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Posts Tagged ‘hate speech’

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.

French Chief Rabbi Gets Death Threats on Facebook

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

French police said they were investigating death threats made against the country’s chief rabbi.

Polices said over the weekend that they are looking for people connected to a photomontage disseminated through Facebook which shows Rabbi Gilles Bernheim with a revolver pointing at his head. The picture shows Bernheim wearing a Star of David on his forehead.

A lighter labeled as containing Zyklon B, the compound used in Nazi gas chambers, is being held up to his nostrils.

“Don’t worry, Bernheim, I won’t deport you. I just want you to breathe in the content of this lighter,” a caption reads. The photomontage is signed by “Bakala LBD.”

Bakala LBD is the name of a Facebook user whose page offers profanities about Israel and maps that purport to depict the expansion of Jewish presence in Israel and the disputed territories. It also offers photos of the French comedian known as Dieudonne, founder of the French Anti-Zionist Party. Dieudonne has been convicted several times of hate speech because of anti-Semitic statements.

CRIF, the umbrella organization representing French Jewish communities, condemned the threats.

“Anti-Semitism is not an atmosphere. It kills,” Ron Rafaeli of SPCJ, the security service of France’s Jewish communities, said last week at the European Parliament in Brussels.

U.S. Leading Effort to Criminalize Free Speech?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The Human Rights Council concluded its nineteenth session on March 23, 2012 and adopted, without a vote, yet another resolution aimed at restricting freedom of speech throughout the world. While its title[1], as usual, suggests it is about combating intolerance based on religion, its plain language shows that, once again, speech is the real target.

One of its sponsors, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference or “OIC” ), has, for over a decade, introduced speech-restrictive resolutions at the United Nations. In the past, these resolutions contained explicit language about “defamation of religions.” Last year, however, when the OIC introduced Resolution 16/18 without the term “defamation of religions,” the West’s resistance to the OIC’s efforts faltered (discussed here). The “defamation of religions” concept had been easy for Western countries to rally against, in part, because it seemed to attach rights to a concept (here, religion) rather than to individuals. But, dropping that term was little more than a cosmetic change leaving speech-targeting language behind and the OIC’s speech-restrictive agenda intact.

Resolution 19/25, like 16/18, specifically “condemns” certain types of speech and “urges States to take effective measures as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents” (emphasis added). In short, it is an explicit call to action for states to curtail certain types of speech.

The “advocacy” (read: speech) that the resolution “condemns” and calls on states to limit is “any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” using “print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.” This language almost directly parallels International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights Article 20(2), which reads: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

At the time Article 20 was being debated, there was little doubt that it was about limiting speech; and indeed, concerns were raised about the potential for abuse of the provision to limit an essential right. Further, when the United States finally ratified the ICCPR in 1992, it did so with an explicit reservation to Article 20, reading: “That Article 20 does not authorize or require legislation or other action by the United States that would restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

The language of ICCPR Article 20 and Resolutions 16/18 and 19/25 bears a striking resemblance to the “hate speech” provisions that have proliferated throughout Europe and that are already being used to silence speech (as the trials of Geert WildersLars Hedegaard, and others demonstrate).

Further, conceptually, “defamation of religions” and “hate speech” were already linked in prior resolutions. It is puzzling, therefore, that the West was so easily duped into believing that dropping the “defamation of religions” language was any kind of substantive victory. Although the most recent resolutions stop short of Article 20′s language, leaving out “shall be prohibited by law,” it hardly matters. The OIC’s agenda can simply be pushed instead through “hate speech” laws that already exist. (By its own statements, the OIC has not changed its goals, nor has it abandoned the concept.) The shift in wording has simply lost us allies in resisiting it.

That a resolution without an explicit reference to “defamation of religions” but that retained “hate speech” language would be more appealing to European allies is not surprising. Most European countries have already adopted some form of “hate speech” laws — but to terrible effect — on freedom of speech. With regard to this issue, the United States had stood alone—”hate speech” is currently not proscribed here, although we appear headed in that direction: since the United States supported the resolution, how could we expect our Western allies to resist?

Our Secretary of State applauded the OIC and described efforts leading to Resolution 16/18 as beginning “to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression.” Far from demanding a “reservations clause” of any kind, the United States, instead, sponsored a three-day, closed-door meeting in Washington, DC last December on implementing 16/18 —a meeting in a series called the “Istanbul Process.” Taking its lead from the US, the European Union then offered to host the next session, an initiative the OIC hailedas a “a qualitative shift in action against the phenomenon of Islamophobia.”

More On Liberal Rage

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
   Our column week before last, “No Hate Like Liberal Hate,” drew a number of interesting responses from readers, many of whom submitted their own favorite morsels of liberal hate speech. A few noted that for many years Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby devoted a column every December to the year’s most egregious examples of liberal hate.
One reader sent a link to Jacoby’s 2004 column (2004 was a particularly rewarding year for those interested in mining the depths of liberal rage, as the Monitor hopefully demonstrated two weeks ago).
Jacoby described 2004 as “another year in which liberals engaged in, and mostly got away with, grotesque slanders and slurs about conservatives – the kind of poisonous rhetoric that should be beyond the pale in a decent society.”
   That liberals are world-class haters is a fact of life that should be apparent to anyone with an IQ higher than that of a typical television anchorperson.
In his 2004 column, Jacoby observed that “Republicans were almost routinely associated with Nazi Germany.” Former vice president Al Gore characterized Republican activists as “brown shirts” while singer Linda Ronstadt, reflecting on the reelection of George W. Bush, lamented that “we’ve got a new bunch of Hitlers.”
Left-wing crank Bill Moyers, formerly Lyndon Johnson’s political hatchet man and easily one of the most overrated men in the history of television news, told viewers that if Democrat John Kerry were to defeat Bush by a narrow margin, “I think there’d be an effort to mount a coup, quite frankly…. The right wing is not going to accept it.”
And consider the lovely liberal sentiments voiced in an ad paid for by the St. Petersburg, Fla., Democratic Club that called for the assassination of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The ad read, “Then there’s Rumsfeld, who said of Iraq, ‘We have our good days and our bad days.’ We should put this S.O.B. up against a wall and say, ‘This is one of our bad days,’ and pull the trigger.”
Speaking of liberal bloodlust, in 2004 the prestigious publisher Alfred A. Knopf came out with a thinly plotted novel by Nicholson Baker in which a couple of Bush haters spend the entire book arguing the merits of killing President Bush.
It is inconceivable that a mainstream publishing house would even entertain the idea of putting its imprimatur on a novel that discussed in such graphic detail the planned killing of a Democratic president.
Tarring Republicans with the “Nazi” or “racist” label is, of course, old hat for liberal hatemongers. Here’s disgraced Harlem congressman Charles Rangel, one of the more accomplished name-callers in the recent history of Capitol Hill, responding in the mid-90′s to a Republican tax-cutting initiative:
“It’s about race and a certain costume change. Where once it was the sheets and hoods of the Klan, it’s now the black suits and red ties of conservative politicians. It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ anymore. They say, ‘Let’s cut taxes.’ “
Here’s Rangel again, referring to the Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America: “When I compare this to what happened in Germany, I hope you see the similarities to what is happening to us.”
When George W. Bush chose John Ashcroft as his attorney general shortly before being inaugurated to his first term in January 2001, Representative William Clay, Democrat of Missouri, Ashcroft’s home state, said the choice reminded him of “the way Ku Klux Klan members worked to improve race relations; they, too, reached out to blacks with nooses and burning crosses.”
Some months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the actress Sandra Bernhard, a proud and outspoken liberal, opined that “the real terrorist threats” to the nation “are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs.”
            Liberals like Bernhard, Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Harry Belafonte, and others too numerous too mention have spent years impugning the motives, intelligence, integrity, patriotism and simple human decency of conservatives.
Black Republicans have come in for a particularly tough time at the hands of liberals, especially black liberals, who tend to portray black conservatives – actually, not just black conservatives but even moderate black Republicans like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice – as Uncle Toms, Aunt Jemimas, slaves working on their masters’ plantations, and worse.

But if you believe the liberal media, it’s Republicans and conservatives and (shudder) Tea Party Neanderthals who threaten the country’s stability with intemperate statements, uncivil discourse, and hate-filled rants.

 

Jason Maoz can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/more-on-liberal-rage/2011/02/16/

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