Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What does Giuliani have in common with CAIR?

Both want to impose blasphemy laws in the name of stopping "hate crimes".

Back in 1999, Rudy Giuliani asserted that the Brooklyn Museum, in their "Sensation" exhibit, committed a "hate crime" by displaying Chris Ofili's painting "The Holy Virgin Mary" which featured elephant dung as a design element. In response, Giuliani filed suit against the museum and witheld legally mandated city funding from it. After U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled against him in no uncertain terms, Giuliani was forced to settle his lawsuit against the museum, after getting several months of press concerning the issue, which was in fact his true motivation. By the way, Hilary Clinton opposed Giuliani on constitutional grounds. (More here.) Although he wasn't honest about his motives, Giuliani was attempting to punish blasphemy in the name of preventing a "hate crime" against the Catholic community of New York.

In the Pace University Koran desecration case, CAIR, Pace University and its Muslim student associations, are doing essentially the same thing. (In this case, a student was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief (vandalism), but the charges were then raised to felony level because they were defined as "hate crimes". He is subject, under these felony laws, to several years in prison if convicted.)

If desecrating a holy book or portraying saints in a way considered inappropriate were crimes, then that crime would be blasphemy, regardless of what other name is given. But blasphemy is not a crime in this country, and shouldn't be. That would run counter to the American system in which religion gets no special protection in the marketplace of ideas. The general public or a particular constituency may not approve of Koran desecration as a means of expression, but it is clearly protected speech. It is an act protected by another book -- the book the government is forbidden from desecrating by exceeding its authority and violating the rights of its citizens -- the Constitution. In this case, that would be the true desecration.

Check out what Eugene Volokh has to say: "The Perils of Hate Crime Laws". And read what Christopher Hitchens has to say about this and other instances where free speech (from the sublime, like Rushdie, to the ridiculous, like the Danish cartoons) is suppressed in the name of preventing "Islamophobia".

Let's leave blasphemy laws in the Middle Ages where they belong...

On Youtube... you can view a debate on this subject...

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