Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Anti-Islam film: free speech or hate speech?

The Anti-Islamic film that triggered widespread anti-American protests, which started in Africa and moved into the Middle East, China, Great Britain, Germany, and Australia is a sad situation of misunderstanding. "There is no justification for this kind of senseless violence," Obama said. “We cannot and will not squelch freedom of expression in this country — it is a foundational principle,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Google denied a White House request to pull down the film arguing that it did not violate its guidelines and terms of service. Now, as Egyptian President Mursi asked the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take legal action in the United States against makers of the film, is the U.S. Department of Justice willing to revisit the debate on free speech versus hate speech and pay more attention to the joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding the film?  

A wise man once said “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Muslims around the world strive and struggle in pursuit of justice. When necessary, they revolt and sacrifice their lives for this noble goal. In practice, Muslims aim at the preservation of five foundational goals: Religion, Life, Lineage, Intellect, and Property. This applies equally to Muslims and non Muslims. All they want is a “Just” government that protects their basic rights.

Protesting is a form of freedom of expression. However, there is a huge difference between a peaceful protest and a violent one. Sound reason agrees with the first and condemns the second. A rational law should allow the first and forbids the second. Keeping peace in a society requires constant review of the rationality of the law.

This is true in local societies as well as in our global society. To have peace, we need to make sure that the law continues to keep peace vampires under control. The law should distinguish between free speech and hate speech. Shifting away from what is common sense turns the law words with no spirit and destroys the society. A wise man once said “your freedom ends when mine begins.”

P.S : Section 296 of the Canadian Criminal Code makes it an indictable offense for anyone to publish a blasphemous libel. The maximum sentence is ostensibly a term of imprisonment not to exceed two years.

P.S.S : Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act makes it a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Related articles:
Sarah Chayes in LA Times: Anti-Muslim movie doesn't meet free-speech test 
Christa Case Bryant, Kristen Chick and John Thorne in Christian Science Monitor: Anti-Islam video clip spotlights difference in global free speech limits