Posted by: Jayme | December 9, 2008

Freedom from “Defamation” – OR – Freedom of Speech

The United Nations has passed the Combating Defamation of Religion resolution.  It sounds pretty harmless.  After all, I don’t want anyone defaming my religion.

Unfortunately, as FOX News Religion Contributor Lauren Green writes, it is anything but friendly to free speech.

Drafts of the resolution in early October would have made it a criminal act and violation of international law to “defame another religion.” Although the drafts were amended to say all religions, only Islam is mentioned by name. And the U.S. lobbied specifically to remove any reference to it being a “criminal” act.

One U.S. Ambassador commented a few weeks ago how divisive this issue is: “The resolution could criminalize free speech,” and that “it’s a cover for criminalizing domestic free speech.”

The point is: if a resolution by the world body criminalizes speech even speech that defames and is in bad taste, then International Law could potentially brow beat and trample on the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the U.S. voted “no.”

The resolution is non-binding. There’s no international body to enforce it. But it does set a tone of what is and is not acceptable. The U.S. official said, it would give countries the ability to pass anti-free speech laws if it criticizes a religion, it would make it difficult to proselytize or share your faith unless you practice a State approved faith, or could make you fear changing your religion.

If you doubt that such drastic restrictions could ever be considered in the United States, a look at our neighbors to the North could make you think again.  In the US State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights for Canada, the following was reported in an alarmingly matter-of-fact way: (emphasis mine)

The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may limit free speech in the name of goals such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting gender equality. It also has ruled that the benefits of limiting hate speech and promoting equality are sufficient to outweigh the freedom of speech clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the country’s constitutional bill of rights.

Canada’s human rights commissions and tribunals, described by Pete Vere in a recent CE article, are “state-established quasi-judicial tribunals in which Christians are regularly hauled to account for their Christian convictions. These commissions and tribunals have a 100 percent conviction rate against Christians.”

Vere recently co-authored a book on the subject, The Tyranny of Nice.  The book’s subtitle reads, “How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights (And why it matters to Americans).”

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