Scions of Freedom
Freedom of speech remains under attack this week as Islamic radicals seek to institutionalize the “heckler’s veto.” The latest political functionary to succumb to the siren song of the mob is no less than the Secretary General of the United Nations. According to Reuters:
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday the maker of an anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests across the Muslim world abused his right to freedom of expression by making the movie, which he called a “disgraceful and shameful act.”
“Freedoms of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose,” Ban told a news conference.
“When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way.
“My position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act,” he said.
What is disgraceful and shameful, not to mention cowardly, is the head of an organization that ostensibly stands for human rights essentially saying that if enough people get offended and break things in response to speech they don’t like, said speech should be prohibited. Ban has officially thrown in his hand with the thugs and dictators of the world, and the United States should demand his resignation forthwith.
Not that there’s any chance of that, what with the White House and State Department falling all over themselves the last eight days apologizing for Americans exercising their rights. Nor is there any chance of that as long as people like Harold Koh, the chief lawyer for the State Department, are in office. Betsy Woodruff of National Review Online reports that Koh may just be looking at the current upheaval in the Middle East as a crisis that shouldn’t go to waste:
One of the reasons many conservatives opposed his confirmation was that he wrote a paper implying that the U.S. ought to take the same stance toward free speech as many European countries do, fining and imprisoning those who say things that are offensive to specific religious or ethnic groups. In a 2003 Stanford Law Review article called “On American Exceptionalism,” he argued:
“Admittedly, in a globalizing world, our exceptional free speech tradition can cause problems abroad, as, for example, may occur when hate speech is disseminated over the Internet. In my view, however, our Supreme Court can moderate these conflicts by applying more consistently the transnationalist approach to judicial interpretation.”
He also wrote, “As American lawyers, scholars and activists, we should make better use of transnational legal process to press our own government to avoid the most negative and damaging features of American exceptionalism.”
In other words, stuff like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s UN General Assembly resolution condemning “vilification” of religions, adopted late last year with State Department support, should be used to, shall we say, persuade individuals to not publish cartoons making fun of Mohammad or films that could ignite the mob. So now you know why Ban’s cowardice in the face of radical Islamic rage will not meet with an appropriate response from the American government: because it agrees with him.
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