Our erstwhile ally in Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is responding to the brutal murder of U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff in Benghazi on Wednesday. Stevens was reportedly suffocated to death by the attacking mob which attacked the consulate because of a small film shown in the United States that was deemed as insulting to the Muhammad.
The Obama Administration has been working to develop an international standard for blasphemy prosecutions. The West has steadily yielded to the demands of religious groups that free speech must be curtailed in the name of faith. At the same time, Western governmental and religious leaders have denounced agnostics and atheists as one of the greatest threats facing the West (here and here and here and here). President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been facilitating this trend by working with Muslim nations to develop an international standard allowing for the prosecution of those who insult religion. The Administration has drawn a dangerous line with Muslim countries in first supporting the concept of an international blasphemy standard. As I have mentioned before, the efforts of the Obama Administration to work with these countries on an international blasphemy standard is a threat to free speech around the world. After first supporting an international blasphemy standard, the Administration sought to get Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries to adopt the Brandenburg standard as the basis for such prosecutions. This case also shows why the use of the Brandenburg standard is so dangerous in the hands of such officials who view free speech as the cause of imminent violence. Past cases show that even the suggestion of blasphemy is enough to trigger violent riots in some Muslim nations. Because any joke or image of the Prophet can trigger violence, the standard is immediately satisfied in countries like Egypt and Pakistan, which can then claim some legal legitimacy under the standard created with the United States. Secretary of State Clinton continues to push for the implementation of the new international effort to criminalize certain forms of anti-religious speech as our Muslim allies expand their definition of blasphemy.The United States already have a standard, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Despite, or perhaps because of, numerous judicial glosses on its meaning it has served us well. There is neither need nor justification to change it to make Islamists or others feel comfortable -- nor even to win their hearts and minds. Yet responses by representatives of the U.S. Government to the recent travesties in Egypt and Libya suggest a different view. They have not yet labeled those travesties "workplace violence" having nothing to do with the Religion of Peace; perhaps that will come as they continue to apologize for the exercise of free but offensive speech in the United States. There would be little need for the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech if it applied only to speech offensive to no one. Happy talk needs little such protection, unhappy talk needs and must have it in full measure.