Freedom of religion; freedom of speech.

Just saw this. A Swedish priest was sentenced to a month in jail for a sermon where he donounced homosexuality in fairly offensive terms, – said homosexuality had caused aids, but without calling for violence or anything like that.

This is so wrong. So very wrong. There’s little very little debate, little attention piaid to this.

I think the french anti-scarves/turbans/etc laws weren’t primarily about islamophobia, and that that issue is very much related to this one. Which brings us to another piece of depressing news:
Banning Muslim headscarves in state schools does not violate the freedom of religion and is a valid way to counter Islamic fundamentalism, the European Court of Human Rights says.

In what could be a precedent-setting decision, the Strasbourg-based court rejected appeals by a Turkish student who was barred from attending Istanbul University medical school because her headscarf violated the official dress code.

The court decision, which takes precedence over national court rulings, could help the French government face court cases it expects to be filed in September against a headscarf ban it plans to impose in state high schools.”

6 thoughts on “Freedom of religion; freedom of speech.

  1. “A Swedish priest was sentenced to a month in jail for a sermon where he donounced homosexuality in fairly offensive terms, – said homosexuality had caused aids, but without calling for violence or anything like that.
    This is so wrong. So very wrong”

    Can you explain why this is so wrong? I don’t know the details about this issue so I chose my own emphasis.
    Or maybe you can include this situation I witnessed on Dutch television yesterday: A group of rappers made a “song” about MP Hirsi Ali made up completely out of obscenities and including 5 announcements that she was going to be killed.
    The makers of this garbage were interviewed (unrecognicable…). Core-item in their defense: “they expressed their feelings”. If you feel or believe that Jews are untermenschen you have the freedom to express that feeling?
    In the end of course this is about tolerance towards the intolerant.

    My point is this: don’t treat political groups that call themselves religion different from other political groups.

    BTW: Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and personally experienced the oppressive nature of the medevial interpretation of the kuran.

  2. Freedom of speech in the US (not sure how the Europeans think of it) means that you’re also free to be offended. Unlike Germany, a Nazi can get up on a street corner and make a virulent speech. We’re all free to be offended.

    In a workplace, there are more restrictions, but you can believe anything you want as long as you keep it to yourself (i.e., as long as you don’t offend others). Recent diversity policies by corporations have promoted the gay lifestyle, and some religious people have won lawsuits. The crux of the biscuit seems to be that a company can enforce respect for every individual, but cannot force you to respect someone else’s belief system. That, and you can’t broadcast your personal belief system in a way that would offend your co-workers.

    I find that whenever you oppress freedom of speech, bad things happen. Here in the US, restrictions on anti-abortion speech led to a radicalization (a violent one) of their behavior.

    I personally believe that everyone should have the right to say whatever they want to say, no matter how false, virulent, or evil. I then have the right to argue with it, ignore it, or challenge its veracity. I have faith that in the long run, good things will come of it. I’d rather know that certain groups are openly thinking evil and reproachful thoughts – it gives me warning about their intentions and motivation.

    I don’t need to have secret spies tell me what radical Islam intends for me and my civilization. I can read their filth on the web, or hear their speeches on a street corner. Now that I know that they wish to kill me, enslave my children, and put my wife in a blue head-to-toe bag after raping her, burn my city to the ground, and dance all around the ashes singing alleluia, I’m better prepared for what happens next.

    Tongue in cheek – I can be as offensive as they. But I think most of you would agree that’s the essence of being an American – they’ll say anything – offensive or not – right out loud.

  3. Living in Sweden, I thought I should add a comment about the circumstances of this law. Basically last year hate-speach againsts homosexuality was added to a hate-speach law. This hate-speach law means that you can?t agitate against some protected groups, originally the law intended to protect jewish people. As the law is formulated I think (I?m not a lawyer) that to be found guilty you must do more than express your contempt, you have to in some sense encourage listeners to violence against people based on ethnicity, religion or sexuality (again, I think these are the groups but I might be wrong).

    As hate-crimes based on homosexuality is one of the most common hate-crimes in Sweden, inclusion of homosexuality in the hate-speach law was logical, though protested by the christian right.

    There has been a lot of debate in Sweden over the issue of including sexuality among the groups, though the law itself has not questioned.

    Personally, I think it is right to include sexuality as long as we have this law. If this law should exist at all, well that is another question, and one that I haven?t completly thought through.

  4. Just noted: but without calling for violence or anything like that

    I think I have to do some research into this law. Hope to report back soon.

  5. Morten, I think that if the law allows people to say “I don’t like something” or “I don’t like certain people”, but disallows saying “I think everyone should kill people who do this”, it’s not a bad law. Promoting violence is not a healthy thing.

    I’ve noticed that here in the US, you can’t legislate morality and ethics. Just because it’s against the law to discriminate against a certain group, doesn’t mean that people will stop hating in their minds. In fact, it sometimes makes the hate come out in different, more subtle ways.

    Education, on the other hand, has a more positive effect in the long run. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the US have a great deal of control over the education system in Germany in the immediate post-War period? Education about the Holocaust? Didn’t this have a positive (if initially involuntary) effect on the generations that followed?

    It would then seem rational that the way to stop radical groups is not to imprison them for their speech (which would only engender a more violent reaction), but to educate their children – to stop the infection of hate and prevent its spread by spreading a better message.

    Along those lines, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea to conquer countries who harbor radical Islamists, and take over the education of their children. We can contract out the new education system in such a place to the Swedes (who seem to be able to run bureaucracies and such with an eye to preventing hate). Yes, there would be problems in the short term, but in fifty years, you would have an incredible difference between the former and latter generations.

    On that thought, the general idea (it seems more European than American to me) that the government can be a proactive agent for personal change (and has such a responsibility), could be logically extended to the concept of a world government (not a UN). Do more advanced and empowered nations have an obligation to stop the suffering in the world by intervening and re-educating entire populations?

  6. You might find the following quote of interest:

    “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'”

    Adolf Hitler (1889?1945), German dictator. speech, Nov. 6, 1933. Quoted in William L. Shirer, ?Education in the Third Reich,? ch. 8, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959).

Comments are closed.