From Nathaniel Sugarman, at American Thinker, "Fatal Attraction: U.S. Flirts with International Speech Codes."
Guard free speech, but accurately identify what is and is not a threat to it: In the USA, this isn't: youtu.be/Zhp32UYp2UI via @youtube
— J. Casper (@repsac3) November 26, 2012
This week, the United States meets with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in London to discuss whether speaking about religion can violate international law. The meeting represents round three of the "Istanbul Process," an effort Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched in July 2011 in the eponymous Turkish city. The initiative's goal is to implement non-binding UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which itself calls for the criminalization of various forms of speech concerning religion. The OIC, an association of 56 Islamic member states and the Palestinian Authority, represents the largest voting bloc in the United Nations.Well, of course this administration's seeking a fundamental transformation of the United States, and that includes its relationship to the Muslim world, so who should be surprised? Not Abigail Esman, it turns out, last December at Forbes, "Could You Be a Criminal? U.S. Supports U.N. Anti-Free Speech Measure":
The renewed Istanbul Process talks come just a month after a UN official urged the United States to combat racism by adopting a "solid legal framework" for regulating internet speech. In a November 5, 2012 address to the General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur Mutama Ruteere recommended that countries take steps to combat "racial hatred," which include adopting "legislative measures" to address the problem. These measures, according the rapporteur, should be in compliance with "international human rights standards." Special Rapporteurs are UN-appointed officials assigned to research a particular issue and report back to the organization with their findings. In his report, Mr. Ruteere specifically identified the United States as a country that should consider new legislation targeting internet hate speech.
Why should the United States be concerned with the rapporteur's recommendations regarding internet speech regulation? After all, "freedom of expression and opinion," according to the report, should not be impeded by any of the new proposed "measures." And why be concerned about the Istanbul Process? It seems to merely condemn incitement, which the United States does not protect in any case.
An answer requires closer examination of the terms of art used by the respective parties.
Resolution 16/18 calls for criminalization of "incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief," and it "condemns... any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence." At first glance, this language does not seem restrictive; even in the U.S., incitement is not a protected form of speech. The issue is the respective ways in which the U.S. and the OIC define "incitement." U.S. Courts use a content-based test to determine whether speech is incitement (See: Brandenburg v. Ohio). Brandenburg, which is still the law, ruled that in order for speech to be unprotected as incitement, the speech must (1) intend to produce imminent lawless action, and must be (2) likely to produce such action. In other words, there is both a subjective and objective prong, both concerning the speech itself. By contrast, the OIC endorses a "test of consequences," which punishes speech based not on its content, but based on the result. This is a completely subjective test, and fails to consider the words uttered by the speaker, focusing only on the reaction of others. How would this play out in practice? Violence claimed to be in response to cartoons of Muhammad, could, under the OIC's definition, retroactively define the cartoons as incitement. Surely, this framework is in direct conflict with U.S. law.
The rapporteur's suggestions regarding internet hate speech regulation also conflict with U.S. law upon closer examination....
The Istanbul Process and the move to regulate internet speech, in addition to creating conflicts between U.S. and international law, also represent a departure from the policies of past U.S. administrations.
While you were out scavenging the Wal-Mart super sales or trying on trinkets at Tiffany and Cartier, your government has been quietly wrapping up a Christmas gift of its own: adoption of UN resolution 16/18. An initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of Islamic Conferences), the confederacy of 56 Islamic states, Resolution 16/18 seeks to limit speech that is viewed as “discriminatory” or which involves the “defamation of religion” – specifically that which can be viewed as “incitement to imminent violence.”Well, we won't have lost the heart of what progressives are. They're the ones pushing for these kinds of speech restrictions, despite what pathological liars and "troll rights" stalkers might say otherwise.
Whatever that means.
Initially proposed in response to alleged discrimination against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11 and in an effort to clamp down on anti-Muslim attacks in non-Muslim countries, Resolution 16/18 has been through a number of revisions over the years in order to make it palatable to American representatives concerned about U.S. Constitutional guarantees of free speech. Previous versions of the Resolution, which sought to criminalize blasphemous speech and the “defamation of religion,” were regularly rejected by the American delegation and by the US State Department, which insisted that limitations on speech – even speech deemed to be racist or blasphemous – were at odds with the Constitution. But this latest version, which includes the “incitement to imminent violence” phrase – that is, which criminalizes speech which incites violence against others on the basis of religion, race, or national origin – has succeeded in winning US approval –despite the fact that it (indirectly) places limitations as well on speech considered “blasphemous.”
What’s worse, the measure codifies into the UN agenda support for the very notion democracies now wrestle with, and which threatens to destroy the very fabric of our culture: tolerance of the intolerant, or rather, the question of whether a tolerant society must also tolerate ways of life that are intolerant – that oppress women, say, or advocate violence against homosexuals, or force strangers to marry against their will. It is, in fact, this very concept that the OIC has long pressured Western governments to adopt in other ways, and that those supporting the adoption of Sharia law in the west have emphasized. Yet if we fall into that trap – as it appears we are – we will have lost the very heart of who we are.
PREVIOUSLY: "The End of Freedom of Expression in the West."