But there’s an even more sinister development of “hate speech” sanctions that this verdict facilitates. That is the ongoing effort of Muslim organizations to smuggle Islamic “blasphemy” prohibitions into “hate speech” laws. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been trying for years to get the U.N. to codify Islamic shari’a blasphemy laws in secular international law. And President Obama is supportive of such efforts. In his infamous Cairo speech of 2009, he proclaimed his commitment to fighting “negative stereotypes about Islam.” In December 2011 Secretary of State Hilary Clinton invited the OIC to Washington to “exchange ideas” and “discuss implementation” of the President’s goal. A few months earlier, representatives of Islamic advocacy groups had met with the Department of Justice to press for ways to label criticism of Islam “religious bigotry and hate,” as the president of the Islamic Society of North America put it.
We already know where this attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam in the guise of “hate speech” will lead, for we have seen its consequences in Europe in the hate-speech charges leveled against Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, and numerous others––over 40 prosecutions since 2000 just in the paragon of “tolerance,” Denmark––simply for stating patent facts about Islamic theology written in the Koran. Nor can those accused turn to the European Court of Human Rights, which has decided that the European Convention on Human Rights does not protect “hate speech.” Nor can relief be found in the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which likewise sanctions free speech on the subjective basis that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” So too the U.N and its utopian Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which obliges states to criminalize “all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred [and] incitement to racial discrimination.” When it comes to Islam, free speech in Europe and international law is, if not dead, on life support.
Given the progressive fondness for Europe as a superior social and political model, we should not assume that such legalized censorship won’t ever take hold in America in the framework of already existing “bias intimidation” or “hate speech” laws. Such legal sanctions, even if offenders are acquitted, as Wilders was, nonetheless create what the Hudson Institute’s Paul Marshall calls “extra-legal intimidation,” self-censorship predicated on fears of violence in addition to fear of prosecution by the government. And when the enemy endorses a theology of divinely justified violence, as does the jihadists, this intimidation can be very effective indeed. We have already seen the pernicious effects of jihadist intimidation against critics of Islam in the propagandistic fantasies about Islam as the “religion of peace,” and the dread of “Islamophobia” that permeate our universities and government agencies.
In addition to empowering the government to interfere even more in our social relations, and the privileging of some political factions and ideologies over others, the assault on free speech by ever-expanding “hate speech” law strikes at the heart of our political order: the free exchange of ideas without government interference––exactly what the jihadists want to destroy.
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