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U.S. co-sponsors anti-free speech resolution at the UN
Free speech death watch. The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the resolution, cosponsored by the U.S. and Egypt, yesterday.
It calls on states to condemn and criminalize "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence." It also condemns "negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups," which is of course an oblique reference to accurate reporting about the jihad doctrine and Islamic supremacism -- which is always the focus of whining by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other groups about negative "stereotyping" of Islam. They never say anything when people like Osama bin Laden and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed issue detailed Koranic expositions justifying violence and hatred; but when people like Geert Wilders and others report about such expositions, that's "negative stereotyping."
And the worst aspect of this and all such measures is that the "Incitement" and the "hatred" are in the eye of the beholder. The powerful can decide to silence the powerless by classifying their views as hate speech. The Founding Fathers tried to protect Americans from tyranny by protecting free speech. Now our free speech is threatened, and tyranny will take advantage of that. But we still have the First Amendment, right? Eugene Volokh, in an excellent analysis of the resolution, explains why it isn't that easy to dismiss this:
But why the fuss, some might ask, if we're protected by the First Amendment? First, if the U.S. backs a resolution that urges the suppression of some speech, presumably we are taking the view that all countries -- including the U.S. -- should adhere to this resolution. If we are constitutionally barred from adhering to it by our domestic constitution, then we're implicitly criticizing that constitution, and committing ourselves to do what we can to change it.
So to be consistent with our position here, the Administration would presumably have to take what steps it can to ensure that supposed "hate speech" that incites hostility will indeed be punished. It would presumably be committed to filing amicus briefs supporting changes in First Amendment law to allow such punishment, and in principle perhaps the appointment of Justices who would endorse such changes (or even the proposal of express constitutional amendments that would work such changes).
By Robert Spencer, October 3, 2009