New Motto: “We Were Just Kidding About That Article XIX Thing”
Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution to encourage member states to adopt laws that would punish speech critical of religion.
In case you didn’t catch that, the Human Rights Council is encouraging its members to punish speech critical of religion.
A host of countries around the world already imprison bloggers, and others, for such speech. The most high-profile example is Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, or Kareem Amer, the Egyptian blogger sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam. Perhaps the fact that it took the UN two years to condemn that sentence but two weeks to approve this measure is not coincidental.
The measure “Deplores the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards any religion, as well as targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons.” Kareem was just the start. The UN is now giving his abusers legal cover and making a mockery of Article XIX.
Free speech is fantastically unpopular around the world. Although countries like Egypt, Iran, Burma and China may be the most egregious and flamboyant punishers of unfettered speech, it is nearly as unpopular in “Western” countries. That is, it is praised right up to the point where it offends someone, as though speech with limits based on offense taken could be a sensible benchmark.
We have come to expect the patent-leather tinhorns and the religious torturers to dish out sentences based on laws like those the United Nations is encouraging, but let’s never forget that the grey little men in places like Brussels and DC, Ottawa and Canberra make them possible.
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