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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

SALLY MORRIS:  PART 6 - FREEDOM OF SPEECH 101:  “BE IT RESOLVED . . . “

In order to evaluate “freedom of speech” we must consider the alternative.  In many places which claim freedom of speech, to act on this assumption is dangerous.  There might not be a legal prohibition there, just the prohibition of reality.  

 

Canada has its “Human Rights Commission”.  They’re dedicated to human freedoms and rights! But if you’ve read my earlier posts you know better.  You understand when the thing does not exist in fact it no longer matters whether it exists on paper.

 

The label, “hate” is liberally applied to some -  those critical of Islam, or “Black Lives Matter” or “Occupy Wall Street” or “La Raza”, all of which are defined by hate.  In a 2015 opinion piece, the New York Times pays lip service to free speech:  “There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies,” then proceeds to excoriate Pamela Geller for putting it to the test in the “Draw Mohammed” competition:  “. . . Pamela Geller, the anti-Islam campaigner behind the Texas event, has a long history of declarations and actions motivated purely by hatred for Muslims.”

 

Is Geller entitled  to “hate” Islam?   She does. But it is beyond a stretch to accuse her of hatred for Muslims.  She champions women enslaved by the political system of Islam. She hates the evil that attends upon Islam, not only for Muslims but everyone.  She lives under a fatwa. She pays a price for her free speech.

 

Her words are supposedly “provocative”.  Once we would have applauded her. Today even those who see what she sees are afraid to exercise free speech.  If something is “free” should it cost? We are not free in our minds to agree with her because we are condemned by the “tolerance” lobby”; a generation of Americans has freely vacated the First Amendment.

 

A movement is afoot to discourage self-expression.  It’s subtle, but will have a profound impact. “Inclusivity” resolutions - anti-hate-speech resolutions admonish us to welcome everything and everyone.  Grand Forks, ND, passed one, consistent with a pattern of aping Fargo, but the original draft referenced a United Nations resolution of 1964.

 

The Council Member who introduced it, Sandi Marshall, avoided discussing that source. Side-stepping questions on whether it conflicted with the First Amendment, she cast shade on anyone who had concern:  “You have asked several questions about immigrants that seem to suggest concerns you and your readers might have about New Americans in our communities.  This resolution does not favor one group over another, although it names several groups that are most often subject to harassment, discrimination, and hate.” (Is it wrong to ask about assimilation? About free speech?) She contends it “is simply a statement of community values.”

 

We interviewed John Strand, the City Commissioner who introduced Fargo’s resolution.  He informed us it was supported by labor and human rights advocates. He sees it as “respectful and positive” and echoes Marshall’s view that it’s a statement of values.  He indicated it was, in part, prompted by possible White National protests coming to Fargo and “turmoil regarding immigrants”. Although one member voted no, passage, he said, was “cut and dry”.  

 

In contrast, Marshall’s resolution   met with resistance from the populace.   One bone of contention was this paragraph:

WHEREAS, Organizations or individuals or doctrines promoting differentiation or superiority based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, ability, or country of origin are scientifically false, morally condemnable, hateful, socially unjust and dangerous; and are merely expressions to create alarm at the manifestations of discrimination . . .

 

It isn’t surprising this stirred controversy in denial of “differentiation” or “superiority”.

Do believe in your own religion?  Then you believe it’s superior to another’s.  Is that allowable? Is it scientifically false or morally condemnable to recognize superiority or differentiation in professional skill?  

 

Is hate itself legitimate?  Is hate value-neutral? It is right to hate evil!   To label “hate” as a bad thing is, itself, dangerous.  But this didn’t pass, and Marshall came back with a toned-down version. That one passed.  

 

Question:  do we need “toothless” resolutions which intimidate? And if we pass these in order to shut down debate wil free speech thrive?

 

 

The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.  (Cicero)

One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good.  (Edmund Burke)

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