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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘hate speech’

Jewish TV Host Apologizes for Anti-Roma Rant

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

A controversy-courting Canadian Jewish television host apologized for a rant against the Roma people.

Ezra Levant of the Sun TV network sparked widespread outrage in September when he referred to Roma as “gypsies” and “a culture synonymous with swindlers…one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.”

He also said: “The phrase ‘gypsy’ and ‘cheater’ have been so interchangeable historically that the word has been entered into the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well, the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees,” Levant said on the segment, which was titled “The Jews Verses the Gypsies.”

The attack came amid news reports about a crime ring of Romanian immigrants working in the Toronto area.

Canada’s Roma community on Monday asked Toronto police to investigate Levant for hate crimes.

Levant referred on Monday to the segment as “a pretty good rant” but added: “To those I hurt, I’m sorry….It’s just wrong to slur a group of people. I made the moral mistake of judging people collectively.”

Known for his blustery talk and fervent belief in free speech, Levant said, “I don’t apologize simply for the sake of being consistent in my views. I regret having made these statements and I’m hopeful that those remarks will serve as an example of what not to do when commenting on social issues.”

Sun News apologized for the segment last fall and pulled the offending video from its website.

Writing in the National Post newspaper in the wake of the broadcast, three prominent Jewish community leaders said, “If the Sun News Network had aired an attack on Jews, the whole country would be outraged.”

Some have said that Levant’s apology is suspiciously timed, as the Sun network is in the midst of asking Canadian broadcasting regulators for inclusion on digital basic cable for five years.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Mocking Muhammad Is Not Hate Speech

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

To stop Islamist violence over perceived insults to Muhammad, I argued in a FoxNews.com article on Friday [also republished on the JewishPress.com], editors and producers daily should display cartoons of Muhammad “until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”

This appeal prompted a solemn reply from Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim website, who deemed it “irresponsible and beyond the pale.” Why so? Because, as she puts it, “The solution to escalating violence and hate speech is not more hate speech.”

Hate speech, legal authorities agree, involves words directed against a category of persons. Here’s a typical definition, from USLegal.com: “incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like.”That sounds sensible enough. But does mocking Muhammad, burning a Koran, or calling Islam a cult constitute hate speech? And what about the respectful representations of Muhammad in the buildings of the U.S. Supreme Court or the New York State Supreme Court? Even they caused upset and rioting.

Attacking the sanctities of a religion, I submit, is quite unlike targeting the faithful of that religion. The former is protected speech, part of the give and take of the market place of ideas, not all of which are pretty. Freedom of speech means the freedom to insult and be obnoxious. So long as it does not include incitement or information that urges criminal action, nastiness is an essential part of our heritage.

On a personal note, I have had to learn to live with torrents of vulgar venom, in speech and in pictures alike, from those who disagree with me; you don’t hear me whining about it. More broadly, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and other faith communities in the West have learned since the Enlightenment to endure vicious lacerations on their symbols and doctrines.

If proof be needed, recall Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christi, and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary. Or the avalanche of antisemitic cartoons spewing from Muslims.

For an over-the-top recent example, The Onion humor website published a cartoon under the heading, “No One Murdered Because of This Image.” It shows Moses, Jesus, Ganesha, and Buddha in the clouds, engaged in what the caption delicately understates as “a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity.” As the Onion mock-reportingly but accurately goes on, “Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”

I asked for the cartoons to be published again and again to establish that Islamists must not chip away at the freedom to mock and insult by hiding behind bogus claims of incitement. Name an instance, Ms Musaji, when biting remarks about Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam have led to riots and murders by non-Muslims against Muslims?

I cannot think of a single one.

When attacks on Muslims take place, they occur in response to terrorism by Muslims; that’s no excuse, to be sure, but it does indicate that violence against Muslims has no connection with lampooning Muhammad or desecrating Korans. Muslims need to grow thick skins like everyone else; this is one of the by-products of globalization. The insulation of old is gone for good.

To make matters worse, Islamists tell us Be Careful with Muhammad! and threaten those with the temerity to discuss, draw, or even pretend to draw the prophet of Islam, even as they freely disparage and insult other religions. I can cite many examples of actors, satirists, artists, cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, ombudsmen, and others openly admitting their intimidation about discussing Islamic topics, a problem even Ms. Musaji herself has acknowledged.

To cool the temperature, Muslims can take two steps: end terrorism and stop the rioting over cartoons and novels. That will cause the antagonism toward Islam built up over the past decade to subside. At that point, I will happily retract my appeal to editors and producers to flaunt offensive cartoons of Muhammad.

Originally published at Foxnews.com on Sept. 24, 2012. See also Danielpipes.org.

Daniel Pipes

Google Will Not Take Down Anti-Muslim ‘Trailer,’ But Restricts Access to Muslims

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Google has rejected a White House request to remove the anti-Muslim video ‘trailer’ of a supposed full length, anti-Muslim movie titled “Innocence of Muslims,”” from YouTube, but is restricting access to it in certain countries.

The White House said on Friday that it had asked YouTube, the online video sharing site, to review whether the video violated its terms of use. Google owns YouTube.

YouTube said in a statement Friday that the video is “clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”

The short film denigrates the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a blood thirsty womanizer and pedophile. It ignited mob violence against U.S. and other Western missions around the Muslim world.

“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” the YouTube statement said. “This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”

YouTube’s community guidelines say the company encourages free speech and defends everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But YouTube says it does not permit hate speech.

“‘Hate speech’ refers to content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group,” the guidelines say. “Sometimes there is a fine line between what is and what is not considered hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation, but not okay to make insulting generalizations about people of a particular nationality.”

Yori Yanover

To Protect Jewish Students, California University Committee Recommends Ban on Hate Speech

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Each year at many California universities, pro-Israel students dread the inevitable arrival of “The Wall,”—the centerpiece of Israel Apartheid Week. These programs, sometimes known as Justice in Palestine Week or Palestinian Awareness Week, usually take place sometime between late-winter and spring and focus on charges that Israel is an Apartheid state that illegally occupies Palestinian territories.

But what if the wall wasn’t allowed to go up?

Speculation on the future of anti-Israel demonstrations on University of California (UC) campuses has increased in recent weeks after a mid-July report compiled by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate recommended that UC consider banning all hate speech from its nine campuses.

Between October 2011 and May 2012, a group of professionals handpicked by UC President Mark Yudof travelled to six UC campuses (Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to assess the social conditions of Jewish students as well as Arab and Muslim students.

Jewish student leaders on the campuses were interviewed by the council, which evaluated the students’ biggest concerns as Jews on campus.

A separate report, providing background and recommendations on behalf of Arab and Muslim students was also released in mid-July.

Ultimately, the council recommended that hate speech, particularly anti-Israel demonstrations, be banned because of the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that can ensue on campus.

“UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus such as the KKK,” the council wrote in the report. “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”

The council recognized that such a ban, if put in place, almost certainly would lead to legal action challenging it. Already, a petition asking Yudof to table the recommendations has gathered over 2,300 signatures.

Opponents of the recommendation claim that the report, released July 9, does not consider all viewpoints of Jewish students on campuses—particularly those of Jews who are critical of Israel.

In response, StandWithUs started a counter-petition urging the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to accept and implement the recommendations outlined in the report. While the first petition targets the hate speech ban proposal, the StandWithUs petition focuses on implementation of the entire report’s recommendations which include ensuring that kosher food options be available on UC campuses and that anti-Semitism be clearly defined and banned.

The advisory council also recommended that UC staff members receive cultural competency training and that accurate data be kept on Jewish students to better evaluate their needs.

There has been mixed reaction to the report in the pro-Israel community. Sharona Asraf, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and board member of Tritons for Israel at UC San Diego, created a Facebook event promoting the petition and said she supports the Council’s recommendation to ban hate speech.

“This will verbalize protocol and will elaborate what the consequences are for hate speech,” Asraf said.

However, Daniel Narvy, President of Movement for Peace in the Middle East at UC Irvine, said that while he thinks hate speech should not exist, banning it on UC campuses could actually make life more difficult for pro-Israel students.

“I can promise that SJP will claim the university is Islamaphobic and complain until they get their way,” Narvy said. “Do I think the hate speech, which it clearly is, should be there? No, but the university cannot use prior restraint and just censor a club just because [some members of the club] are obnoxious .” Richard Barton, who is the national education chair for the Anti-Defamation League, co-wrote the report with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. Barton defended the report in an Aug. 23 op-ed in the San Francisco Gate.

“By including an examination of the climate for Jewish students, the Campus Climate Council has truly advanced the notion of honest and critical examination that lie at the heart of the UC’s core values,” Barton wrote.

Though UCOP is not expected to finish evaluating both the Jewish and the Arab and Muslim reports until late October, Yudof noted that ensuring a right to free speech would remain a priority.

“The Council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members,” Yudof said in an August 8 open letter to the UC system. “None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty and staff.”

Zev Hurwitz, Israel Campus Beat

Charge: Facebook Pages Spew Blood Libels, Attack Jews and Aborigines, Mock Anne Frank

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

There is no scientific equation to determine what is hatred, but a Facebook picture of a smiling Anne Frank surrounded by the caption, “What’s that burning?  Oh it’s my family” is an easy one.  So is a Facebook picture of a baby on a scale emblazoned with a Jewish Star, where the bottom of the scale is a meat grinder with raw ground meat (presumably, a baby’s) oozing out.

Is there any doubt in your mind that those images constitute hate speech (one of the official categories for removal under Facebook’s Terms of Service) and should be removed from Facebook?  That was the basis for the complaints filed by the Online Hate Prevention Institute last month.

Facebook disagreed.  The pictures remain up.

The Australia-based Online Hate Prevention Institute was launched in January this year.  Its mission is to help prevent, or at least control, abusive social media behavior which constitute racism or other forms of hate speech.

Dr. Andre Oboler is the chief executive officer of OHPI.  Oboler has been involved in analyzing and monitoring online hate for five years.   In the time that he’s been monitoring Facebook, the response time has improved, but the results have not.

“OHPI submitted documented complaints following the Facebook complaint protocol, and, true to their word, we received a response within 48 hours,” Oboler told The Jewish Press.  “It’s quite amazing; the Facebook reviewers took down the images, reviewed them, and put them back up with a ‘no action’ decision within 48 hours.”

Oboler waited until the Facebook reviews were completed before posting OHPI’s findings.  The methodical process and the constructive suggestions OHPI made could be held up as models of what to do when confronted with hate speech on social media, except that at this point the diligence does not appear to have paid off.

The suggestions included:

1. Remove the offensive images

2. Close the offensive pages that are posting them

3. Permanently close the accounts of the users abusing Facebook to spread such hate

4. Review which staff assessed these examples and audit their decision making

5. Take active measures to improve staff training to avoid similar poor decisions in the future

6. To institute an appeal process as part of the online reporting system

7. To institute systematic random checks of rejected complaints

At this point, Oboler is hopeful that if sufficient attention is generated, Facebook will feel compelled to re-examine their procedures.  What he would like is for there to be a “systematic change to prevent online-generated harm in the future.”

One way to generate that attention, Oboler suggested, is for Facebook users who think the images described above are offensive to go to the Facebook OPHI site and “Like” it.  Another is to sign the OPHI petition urging Facebook to stop allowing hate speech on its site.

OHPI is also critical of the way in which Facebook has chosen to respond to complaints about offensive Facebook Pages.  Its standard response to pages that are entirely devoted to offensive material is to insert the bracketed phrase: [Controversial Humor] before the rest of the page title.  That phrase acts kind of like the warning label posted on cigarette packages.  The page remains vile, just as the cigarettes remain carcinogenic, but by slapping on the Controversial Humor disclaimer, it appears Facebook is seeking immunity from liability.  Or at least from responsibility.

OPHI discovered this Facebook method when it was engaged in an effort to eradicate hate-filled Facebook Pages dedicated to brutalizing Aborigines.  Remember – OPHI is based in Australia.  After engaging in some promising responses to OPHI’s complaints, Facebook ultimately responded that “While we do not remove this type of content from the site entirely unless it violates our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, out of respect for local laws, we have restricted access to this content in Australia via Facebook.”

But that just doesn’t make any sense, according to Oboler.  As he pointed out, “Facebook’s ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities’ says at 3.7 ‘You will not post content that: is hate speech’. We find it very hard to understand how Facebook can look at this material and decide it is not hate speech. Ultimately, this is where Facebook is going wrong.”

Is there anything Facebook has determined to be sufficiently offensive that it will be removed? Yes, but not much.

Oboler explained that thus far the only hate speech kind of content that has been permanently removed by Facebook is when it is directed against an individual, rather than at an entire race or religion.  In other words, the same problem that hate speech codes on campuses have encountered, plagues complainants hoping for a non-offensive inline community.  Unless the nastiness is directed at a specific person, the default Facebook position is to not remove it.

But really, is it possible for anyone to consider the words accompanying the Anne Frank picture anything but impermissible hate speech?  Facebook apparently does and will continue to do so unless enough people tell them they are wrong.

 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

NY Court: MTA Violated Pro-Israel Group’s 1st Amendment Rights in Rejecting Ad Campaign

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the New York City Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) refusal to run a bus advertisement calling enemies of Israel “savages” violates the First Amendment rights of the plaintiff, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

The ad – which the group sought to run on 318 city buses for four weeks, at a cost of about $25,000 – states: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Proposed bus ad by the American Freedom Defense Initiative

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is headed by blogger and critic of political Islam Pamela Geller, sued the MTA in September 2011 for rejecting the group’s sharply-worded advertisement. The MTA claimed the ad violated its advertising standard, which prohibited ads that “demean individuals or groups based on race, religion or other protected categories.” The MTA offered the group the opportunity to revise the ad, but it refused, and instead filed suit claiming that the MTA’s “no-demeaning” standard violated its First Amendment rights.

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, stated that the ad was “not only protected speech — it is core political speech,” and ruled that the ad “is afforded the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.” He found that the no-demeaning standard had the effect of discriminating against advertisers based on the content of their intended message.

The judge granted a preliminary injunction barring the MTA from enforcing the standard, but said it would only take effect in 30 days, to permit the MTA to evaluate its legal options and consider alternatives to its current advertising standards.

The MTA said in a statement that it was “evaluating its existing advertising standards in light of the court’s ruling.”

An article on albawaba.com said that the case is “sparking much concern that Islamophobia in the United States is being allowed to grow and has found support in the judiciary.” Omar Makram Radwan, a Muslim-American and CUNY student, was quoted on Bikyamasr.com as saying:“This sort of hate speech is now being tolerated by judges and as Ramadan hits it is very unfortunate. People are angry.”

Radwan warned that if the ads going up “there will be widespread anger and protests against what to almost all common person is blatant hate speech against Muslims and Muslim-Americans.”

In response to the decision, Geller wrote on her blog, Atlas Shrugs: “Any war that targets innocent civilians is savage. Period. These ‘irate’ Muslims sanction jihad and Jew-hatred. That is what they are saying.

“I never see US Muslims marching against jihad. Or supporting Israel’s right to exist.” she continued, “Where are they? Instead, they issue threats if our ads go up. And, brother, are they going up.”

Solomon Burke

The Bible and the US Constitution Protect the KKK’s Right To ‘Adopt-A-Highway’

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Conspicuously wearing my kippah, I walked out of a TJ Maxx in Cincinnati Ohio, where I was visiting family, when a car full of skinheads sped up to me with arms stretched out the window in a Hitler salute chanting “Sieg heil!” I sternly retorted: “I condemn and despise your hateful ideology but support your right to free expression!” If these Neo-Nazi skinheads thought Jewish people were strange, I’m sure my response confirmed it.

The Georgia Department of Transportation rejected the Ku Klux Klan’s application to adopt a highway because of the group’s hateful ideology. The American Civil Liberties Union is now defending the Klan. Despite the KKK’s despicable and hateful ideology, the First Amendment protects their free speech, and therefore their right to participate in Georgia state’s Adopt-a-Highway program.

At face value, Jewish law does not appear to support pure free speech. It does, however, recognize and espouse the benefits of rigorous debate. The interpretation of Jewish law is in fact created through heated debate, for example, between the schools of Hillel and Shamai. The Jewish approach tends not towards regulating different opinions, but rather promoting the “marketplace of ideas,” believing that is where the truth of matter will be revealed.

Laws prohibiting the government from regulating hate speech, excluding of course obscenity, defamation, and incitement to riot, are generally unconstitutional in the United States. U.S. Supreme Court opinions dating back to Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire 315 U.S. 568 (1942) affirm that speech directed at a specific individual meant to inflict injury or “incite an immediate” threat (i.e., yelling “fire” in a theater) is not protected under the First Amendment. However, unless you can show that the words pose a direct and immediate threat, hate speech is still generally protected.

The more difficult question is where do we draw the line when it comes to hate speech that is not designed to incite but is an expression of a hateful ideology? Should society regulate speech such as a sign bearing the insignia of the Georgia KKK on an interstate highway?

In Jewish law the punishment for hate speech (e.g. Lashon Hora) is a heavenly dermatological disease called tzaraat. In Numbers 12:10 Miriam is afflicted with the disease for criticizing the Ethiopian race of Moses wife. Interestingly, nature and the divine, not the justice system, afflict an offender with tzaraat (Artscroll Tanach, Leviticus 13, commentary, page 272). Those afflicted with tzaraat were marginalized from society, in designated camps, as part of their atonement (Leviticus 13:45-46). The inherent message is that we don’t need to ban or censor hateful speech, because the real solution is marginalizing hateful ideology through truthfulness. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said it best: “Freedom of speech carries with it certain obligations. One of those is to condemn false speech. The best answer to false speech is not censorship, it is truthfulness.”

Racist, homophobic, and hateful organizations like the Ku Klux Klan undermine their ideology more than promote it. Allowing them to speak in public helps expose them for who they are. The best way to respond and defeat those ideologies is by exposing them.

By attempting to suppress their speech we only make them stronger. Racist ideologies thrive in countries like Austria, France, and the United Kingdom, where hate speech is restricted. For instance, the Netherlands islamophobic and racist Party for Freedom received almost 1.5 million votes in the 2010 election. Those guilty of hate speech often garner media attention, become martyrs, and use speech suppression as a recruitment tool.

In 2004 when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the KKK had a free speech right to adopt a highway, the Missouri legislature used the opportunity to effectively and constitutionally combat the hate speech:

Lawmakers named that section of roadway the Rosa Parks Highway, as the New York Times reports. When a different white supremacist group adopted another highway segment, Missouri lawmakers renamed that road for Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian who escaped Nazi Germany for the U.S. where he became a civil rights activist.

The best way to delegitimize racist and bigoted viewpoints is through the marketplace of ideas, not through government regulations infringing on the First Amendment.

Eliyahu Federman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/my-religion-protects-the-kkks-right-to-adopt-a-highway/2012/07/02/

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