Are We Losing Our Free Speech? Two Stories Which Make the Point


Earlier in the week, I noted how the largest American mosque is equivocating on free speech. Now, two more stories have erupted which keep the issue on the table of concern for anyone who cares about basic human rights.

First, the U. N. Secretary General (Ban ki-moon) asserted that stringent limits should be placed on free speech. Free speech lost two stories christianSpecifically, he notes 2 general guides which would severely limit (if not eliminate altogether) free speech.

The first limit he thinks should be imposed is positive: Speech should be free as long as it promotes common justice and the common good. While this sounds “positive,” it is actually destructive. Who decides “common justice” and “common good”?  Most likely, it will be the group with the most uncommon political clout. This means there will be no minority dissent possible, as it would go against what is perceived as the common good. That this concern is accurate is reflected in the fact that Ban’s comments were made in response to the satirical movie on Islam. Any criticism of Islam would prove to be not for the “common good” because it might provoke violence.

The other limit Ban seeks is negative: Speech is not protected when it provokes or humiliates another person’s beliefs or values. What Ban is saying in this restriction is, basically, that free speech should no longer exist. It’s difficult to see what speech of any substance could reach this bar. Criticism of sexual beliefs would be deemed humiliating. Criticism of Muhammad or Islam would be humiliating. Ban’s idea of free speech is an offer for us all to accept the government’s great ventriloquist routine in which we just sit in the government’s lap while one voice does all the talking. The U.N. is leaning toward a ban on free speech.

The second story which has outed its discomfort with free speech is much closer to home, from the L.A. Times (ironically enough).  In this story, the author, Sarah Chayes, argues that the movie trailer may not meet the threshold for free speech because of its propensity to put people in imminent danger of violence.

Again, this is strange because, historically, when speech was considered violent and thus not free, it was speech in which someone stirred up someone else sympathetic to his cause for the expressed intention of provoking these allies to violence. When Muslims respond with violence to free speech acts, they are doing so against those who made the speech act.  In other words, the relationship is one of enemies, not of allies (see further here).

Even more insanely, the violence is typically directed toward the person(s) who made the speech act. In the case of the recent movie trailer that supposedly started the violence (but really did not), the makers of that movie are now in hiding because their lives have been threatened. So, again going back to a previous post, this ends free speech as we know it. Now, the person who speaks out is also guilty of inciting a riot—against himself!

Free Speech

Public Domain

From the standpoint of freedom, this shift in our thinking reflects the loss of free speech in any meaningful sense. More important, if this new and twisted way of understanding free speech is allowed to stand, then Christianity will effectively be outlawed. How can a Christian preach Christ exclusively without also insulting Islamic beliefs and values?

While many undoubtedly would welcome the demise of Christianity, they should also take note of the offense Muslims take against homosexuality and women’s rights. The Christians may be the first shut down, but they won’t be the last.

Is America’s Largest Mosque Against Violence (or Free Speech)?


Hassan Al-Qazwini

Hassan Al-Qazwini (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Well it is good to hear the largest mosque in America speaking out against the violence Muslims are perpetrating around the globe. Al Qazwini, imam at the Dearborn mosque, has even stated that Muslims cannot tolerate killing. Yet, even with this ostensible condemnation of Muslim violence, Al Qazwini offers three very troubling remarks for those who care about freedom.

First, this imam’s definition of “inciting to violence” displays vision that’s about as clear as, say, Mr. Magoo’s.  After a quick condemnation of the violence in the Middle East, the imam pontificates about the urgent need for stringent action to stop those inciting violence. What the imam means is that there needs to be stronger action against people who make movies that criticize or insult Muhammad.  In other words, there must be stronger action to shut down free speech if it happens to be speech against Islam.

This imam has a fuzzy definition indeed.  Whatever one wishes to say about the putrid nature of the film trailer, he must admit that it did not call anyone to violence against the U.S. embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere. I don’t think it even called for violence against Islam.  Since when did making fun of a religious leader equal inciting to violence? If that were the case, the Monty Python group would have been drawn and quartered years ago.

Second, the only call to action we get from Imam Al Qazwini is a call to shut the movie-makers down.  Indeed, he offers two reasons these movie-makers ought to be silenced. The first reason to silence them is for the supposed safety of American diplomats abroad (like Chris Stevens, the ambassador killed in Libya).  This is an odd concern.  From whom do these ambassadors need protection, the movie-makers? No.  They need protection from violent Muslims. Muslims—not movies—are the problem that must be addressed.

The second reason Al Qazwini gives for silencing the movie-makers is that they “have blood on their hands.”  This charge is unconscionable to me.  It asserts that the people who made a movie mocking Islam are guilty of murdering the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Nonsense. More and more, the evidence is making plain that the attacks in the Middle East were not spontaneous and had little, if anything, to do with the movie. Even if the movie were involved, the movie is not an act of war like the attacks on a U.S. Embassy are acts of war. The violence here is 100% on the side of the Muslims and must be completely condemned as such, with no admixture of excuse.  When Imam Al Qazwini calls for action against movie-makers and says something must be done against them, he is showing his real concern is not Muslim murderers but movie makers. Actions speak more loudly than words.

Rally at Dearborn Mosque against violence and movie

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Finally, the equivocation is unmistakable in this article. And it is reprehensible.  Anytime in the article that there is a hint of condemnation related to the murders committed in the Middle East, there is at least equal condemnation against those who made the Innocence of Muslims movie.  This is insanity.  The end of the article offers a plea to rally at the mosque against violence, a rally “to condemn the attacks on U.S. embassies and an anti-Islam video that angered protesters.”  The rally would have been much more helpful without the “and.”

If Islam is a religion of peace, then Muslim leaders must condemn violence outright, without hesitation and without any hint of excuse. I am not making these remarks out of so-called “Islamaphobia” or hate; I am offering an honest critique which explains (reasonably) why many people struggle to believe Islam is a religion of peace.  And, even more importantly, I am offering glimpses into the future (or lack thereof) of free speech for Americans—especially for Christian Americans, who cannot afford to be silent. Your comments and questions are always welcomed.

Burning Fears


According to this article, Pastor Jones is still planning to burn the bible of Islam at a service commemorating the 9th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. 

I have a couple of simple observations.

Pastor Jones has a right to burn the Quran.  He lives in a nation which prides itself on freedom of speech.  Clearly, he has the right under free speech laws to do what he is doing.

We should be glad that we are free to express ourselves in this way.  To the extent that we are outraged at Pastor Jones, we are probably displaying either a fear of retaliation or an ingrained liberal bias.  Free speech is not about allowing only the speech we like. It is about allowing precisely the speech we don’t like.  Telling Mr. Jones he cannot do this would violate his freedom to express his religious and political views.  Even repugnant views are expressible under our free speech laws.

Many who are outraged that he would burn the Quran are not likewise bothered by the many folks who burn Bibles and desecrate Jesus, Bibles, flags, effigies, etc.  So, why the intense concern over the burning of a Quran?  My guess is that the concern is a tacit acknowledgement that we are afraid that Muslims will become angry.  Therefore, we think it best not to outrage them.  Is this not itself an admission that Pastor Jones is on to something?

He claims that we have for too long placated the violent Islamists.  Instead, he says we should assert our freedom and warn the Islamists not to become violent in retaliation.  I can just imagine someone reading this and thinking Pastor Jones is just plain crazy.  I might be easily convinced of that conclusion myself.  Nevertheless, Jones is pointing to a double standard we have grown comfortable with embracing—the double standard of excusing violence in the name of Islam.

Think of it this way.  If a group in San Francisco held a Bible-burning bonfire of the vanities to voice their displeasure with Christian opposition to gay marriage, few people would notice or care enough to protest the profligate pyro-technicians.  Certainly, there would not be riots in Jakarta or Paris or London or New York.  And if there were rioting in New York which ended with innocent bystanders being killed, we would go to the rioters and hold them accountable.  We would not go to the Bible-burners in San Francisco and act as though they were responsible for causing the deaths.

We do have a double standard.  I think the double standard is evidence that we secretly believe what Pastor Jones is saying, even though we dare not say it ourselves.  We believe that a vocal majority of Muslims are violent against anyone who disagrees with their religion.  If violence in Jakarta ensues, we will be even further persuaded, albeit also appalled by Pastor Jones.  We may wish to condemn his actions, but we will still take notice of the violence in the name of Islam.  At the end of the day, this is Islam’s problem: Violent backlashes tend to characterize Islam in the world today (whether the offense is cartoons, Papal speeches in Germany, or Qurans burning in Florida).

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here.  I don’t think Pastor Jones is doing the right thing.  As a pastor, I believe that we are to speak always with grace, seasoned as it were with salt.  The salt of our seasoning is the gospel of grace through Christ.  We are not called to salt the earth with incendiary rhetoric.  Rather than extending a flaming torch, we should offer a rugged cross. But I do think a message is being revealed through the reactions of others.

Hate Speech Exhibit


We have been talking about hate speech lately (since Obama has signed this atrocious piece of specious bile into law), and we are expecting some of it with regard to speaking the truth about homosexuality to a gender confused culture. The Discovery Institute has been in the thick of hate speech charges for years now.  They are quite accustomed to the threats and intimidation.  I have linked here an example of what we are up against.

Christian Persecution Close to Home


Last week, the warning was sounded that President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate had attached the “hate crimes” legislation to a defense appropriations bill.  President Obama signed it.  Now, it is time to start considering whether we, as Christians, will be silent regarding the truth of sin and redemption.

Over the pond in the UK, the British Christians are struggling with the same problem, only they have slid a bit further down the road than we have.  We can learn from them.  I offer you this article from Right Rev. Jonathan Gledhill as a fine exhibit concerning how quickly Christians may simply drift from their identification as Christians.  At one time, Christians were wearing crosses and fish symbols; yet, when companies began discriminating against them for wearing their faith on their sleeves (or their lapels), many Christians ditched the practice (for practical reasons).  The Rt. Rev. Gledhill, in his November letter, is encouraging Christians to wear the pins and declare their faith, not being intimidated into silence.

More than this, however, the Rev. makes the point that the true mark of the Christian is not a lapel pin. Rather, the true mark is love.  On this particular point, Rev. Gledhill makes a slight mistake.  He puts the mark of love in the context of love for the world.  (One may see how a Christian ought to love the world after the manner of God Himself, Jn. 3:16).  However, Jesus Christ has spoken plainly in Jn 13:35 that the world will know we are Christ’s disciples NOT because of our love for the world, but because of our love for one another.  Church love, love for the saints, is the true mark of the true Christian.

Costly Free Speech


Looks like the day has finally come.  The U.S. Senate has approved federal “Hate Crimes” legislation and sent it on to the President, who has pledged to sign the bill into law.  There are so many problems with this bill, not the least of which is the cowardly, specious manner in which it was passed as an addendum to the national defense bill.  (What does policing citizen thoughts have to do with financing the military?) 

Nevertheless, the bill is written, and, as this article rightly forecasts, will be used against pastors who preach and teach the truth concerning homosexuality.  There is no need to make a slippery slope argument; the point of hate crimes legislation is clear: silence the free speech rights of those who oppose.  These bills clearly seek to police thoughts of all citizens against a protected political class.  The article points to a case in Canada, but there are other cases, too.  Check out the case of Pastor Ake Green.

Dark Day Unnoticed


On this Columbus Day, an insidious and cowardly contingent in Congress has speciously passed a defense funding bill with an attachment to it concerning “hate speech.”  On numerous blogs prior to this one, I have sought to disclose reasons to be suspicious of hate crimes legislation.  Hate crimes change the nature of criminal activity and, essentially, causes political power–not truth–to become the basis on which morality (and speech) is based.

Now, the House of Representatives have voted to attach hate crimes legislation to a defense spending bill; this is cowardly, insidious, and specious.  Such a fundamental shift in the definition of a crime ought to be debated publicly and openly and reasonably.  The bill will now go to the Senate, then to President Obama’s desk.  There will not be any promised transparency in any of this; there will simply be a quiet acquiescence of liberty.  Particularly, if you hold a position of support for traditional marriage, you may become a criminal for your thoughts.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has broken this issue down politically.  I encourage you to visit their page here to see whether your representative voted to support this dubious enterprise in Congress.  You can also click here to contact your senators before they vote.

The Obama Brigade


Ok, Ok, Ok, I know I am a little sensitive to Nazism these days.  I have been preparing a lecture on Nazi Euthanasia and its implications for us which I am giving tonight at 6:30 at the government center in Shepherdsville.  So, I am a little sensitive about modern affinities with the Nazi past.

But I came upon what I think is a stunning piece of legislation.  I have not heard about it before; so, I am thinking that I must be missing something.  Is this just some fantastic internet scare tactic?  According to the Voice, Obama’s ridiculous youth brigade idea is also radically anti-faith, anti-Christian, and anti-constitutional.  In other words, Obama’s youth brigade is as radical as… well, I don’t even need to say it.  Why in the heck are we funding a youth brigade anyway?

Feel free to read the story here and do some follow up investigation. (There are links to pdf files in the comment section below the story). 

I cannot believe this is real.  Someone help us set the record straight.  Surely, Obama isn’t seriously restricting young people receiving government help from attending worship services or Christian schools.

Bravo, Viola!


Here is a blog post about an upcoming bill in California which will coerce doctors into providing abortions or, at least, providing support for the industry.  You may recall that President Obama has recently (by executive order) taken similar steps in limiting conscientious objections by doctors.  At any rate, this blog is informative, as are the comments which follow it.  You will understand the title above after you have read the comments.

 

Obama Approved Prayers


Some prayers meet with Obama’s approval, and some do not. Dr. Mohler has a post today concerning the recent disclosure that the Obama administration is vetting prayers before allowing them to be offered at public events. As this post points out, prayers in Jesus’ name are too volatile. For the first time in U.S. History, Jesus is going to be unwelcomed at the White House and in its prayers. There are theological concerns related to what this means, and there are also concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  We were promised change, and it looks like we are getting what we were promised.  Read Dr. Mohler’s excellent blog on prayer.

Our Canary in the Cave


In days gone by, miners would send canaries into the shafts of mines if there were a question about whether the mines were safe.  Often, mine shafts would be dangerously low on oxygen.  So before fancy “sniffing” equipment was available, canaries were the sniffers.  If they died, the mine was not safe.

I read a reference by Mark Steyn in which Salman Rushdie was referred to as Europe’s canary in the coal mine.  Rushdie’s situation should have alerted Europe to the unreasonable violence of Islam.  Europe has not heard her warning cry, but, perhaps, we will. 

This story calls for us to wake up and realize another canary has not come out of the coal mine of Islamic tolerance.  Geert Wilders–get to know the name–has been convicted under “hate crimes” legislation by the Dutch parliament.  His story is a clear warning to us, if we will listen.  Pay attention.  Freedom is fading fast.