June 30, 2006

Oriana Fallaci and Criminal Speech

Highly relevant to what we generally do here everyday, Cinnamon Stillwell writes on the expanding criminalization of "offensive" speech:

Journalist and author Oriana Fallaci cannot visit her native country of Italy for fear of being thrown in prison because of a lawsuit brought against her by the Italian Muslim Union for the crime of "defaming Islam." . . .

College Republican Steve Hinkle is found guilty by California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) for "disruption" for the crime of putting up a flyer advertising a black conservative speaker.

What do the above examples have in common? They are the logical outgrowth of a dangerous trend sweeping the Western world: the criminalization and censorship of speech.
. . .

Outright censorship and draconian speech codes have long been a staple of Third World authoritarian regimes. But Western democracies and in particular the United States (where the First Amendment is supposed to reign supreme) have always prided themselves on protecting free speech. Yet because of the creeping reach of political correctness, one can now be put in prison, lose a job, be kicked out of school or be otherwise censored simply for uttering an unpopular opinion.

It's called hate speech. If there ever were a more Orwellian concept, it would be difficult to find. For much like the concept of "thought crimes" in George Orwell's novel "1984," hate crimes and hate speech suppose intent on the part of the "perpetrator" that may or may not have any basis in reality. What is often mere criticism or disapproval is labeled "hatred" and thus made worthy of punishment. Such a perspective demands that one think only nice thoughts about others. But when it did it become law that we have to like everyone?

Sounds pretty bad, but what can one person do? Well, for starters, we can get off our butts and take a stand. In fact, we don't even have to get off our butts. Michelle highlights this online petition of solidarity with Oriana Fallaci:
We believe that freedom of speech is a universal value and should not fall within political, cultural or religious interests. Oriana Fallaci has been fighting for the freedom of expression in her work as a journalist throughout her whole life. As we intend to protect the freedom of speech we want to express our solidarity with Oriana Fallaci. Being aware of contentiousness of her latest statements, we still stand against the trial which is infringing the freedom of expression.
If anyone reading this doesn't think this is a big deal, you really need to wake the hell up. Courageous women like Oriana Fallaci and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are proverbial canaries in the coal mine of Western culture. The fact that these women can no longer live peacefully in Europe should send a chill down everyone's spine. If they are silenced, who will take up the banner. Will it be us? Will we take a stand? Or will we settle down in our quiet, comfortable little lives and try to avoid any trouble? The truth is, standing up today takes very little courage, but it does take some. Do we have within us even that tiny kernel of courage? For anyone inclined to do something to protect free speech, I suggest that sooner would be preferable to later.

By Ragnar Danneskjold, Typical Bitter Gun-Clinger at 01:26 PM | Comments |