Sunday, December 12, 2010

The New Caliphate Sez, "Hold Your Tongue, Impudent Kafir!"

Re the UN's latest measure intended to curb "disrimination" (really, intended to curb criticism) that targets religions in general (really, that targets Islam in particular), Dan Shapiro of the Calgary Herald writes:
...Sponsored by Morocco on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), it lends cover and legitimacy to the blasphemy laws of oppressive states which do not respect their citizens' religious freedom. It thus precludes any possibility of an Islamic reformation, the very thing many Muslims want.

How can you "defame" a religion by saying something "false" about it? "Defamation" involves making a purportedly factual claim about someone that harms their reputation, but is false. For example, Jerry Falwell famously sued Hustler publisher Larry Flynt for printing a cartoon implying Falwell had sex with his own mother in an outhouse. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public figures such as Falwell cannot be protected from offensive speech recognizable as satire. Why, then, should "religious symbols and venerated personalities" be protected from ridicule, as the resolution suggests?

Besides, religious disagreement is a very different beast than protecting individuals' reputations. It is about the truth or falsity of the religion or religious claims. So, you can't have a law against saying something "false" about a religion precisely because there is no agreed upon means of determining truth or falsity here.

If religious disputes are to be decided by the state, they will come down on the side of orthodoxy and against dissenting views every time...
"Human rights," disputes, too (because that's how those who are determined to retain the orthodoxy--and their own power--operate).

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