No Free Speech for Them

Carrie Prejean is not the only one who is being demonized these days for expressing politically incorrect opinions; free speech had a bad week all over the world. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith last week announced the names of sixteen “extremists” whom she has barred from entering Britain — a smorgasbord of nasty characters including a white supremacist; a Christian fundamentalist hate preacher; two Islamic jihadists; and Samir Kantar, a Lebanese Druze terrorist who brutally murdered four Israelis, including a four-year-old child. On the list also was talk show host Michael Savage, whose only offense seems to have been to espouse views that Jacqui Smith doesn’t like.

Savage was livid, saying of Smith: “She’s linking me with mass murderers who are in prison for killing Jewish children on buses? For my speech? The country where the Magna Carta was created?”

It was a good question, and one made all the more urgent by the likelihood that Savage, as well as the others who were not Islamic terrorists or their allies, were only added to the list in order to avoid aggravating the easily-aggravated sensibilities of Muslim groups in Britain. Alan Mendoza of the London-based Henry Jackson Society dismissed many of the names on the list as being “just here for padding.” According to AP, Mendoza said that the list was devised so as to “avoid giving Britain’s Muslims the impression that it singles them out.”

But why would the barring of Islamic jihadists and hate preachers from Britain offend peaceful Muslims who ostensibly oppose jihad terrorism as a twisting of their faith? Smith offered no explanation for this and succeeded only in yet again calling into question Britain’s commitment to the freedom of speech — a commitment that was already severely threatened by Smith’s earlier barring of Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders from entering the country because of his views on Islam and the Koran.

Nor was Smith alone in acting against free speech last week. The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last Friday slapped human rights activist David Littman of the World Union of Progressive Judaism with a one-month ban from speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council, where Littman has regularly delivered addresses for many years. Littman’s offense? During a debate at the Human Rights Council in early March, he tried to deliver a statement on anti-Semitism in Islamic publications. At that time, Canadian Ambassador Marius Grinius — acting on instructions from the U.N. Secretariat — stopped Littman from finishing his statement. And now this disciplinary action adds insult to injury.

The contrast with the generally free rein given to endless denunciations of Israel made by member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the U.N.’s largest voting bloc, is stark and obvious. And it is those same states that don’t want Littman’s message to get out: “In 2008,” Littman said, “I was constantly stopped on points of order by OIC states….The underlying problem,” Littman explained, “is the treatment of human-rights activists addressing taboo subjects in the council” — and there is no greater taboo than any subject that reflects poorly on the Islamic world. The OIC has dedicated itself to the criminalization of “Islamophobia” and “defamation of Islam,” and has made it clear that it considers “Islamophobic” and defamatory any discussion of how jihadists use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence, as well as any exploration of Islamic law’s institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims. Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch explained, “Everyone here in Geneva sees this as targeted payback for Mr. Littman’s outspoken criticism of Islamic states’ record on human rights, a voting bloc that dominates the Human Rights Council.”

“Mr. Littman,” said U.N. spokeswoman Marie Heuze, “has his own way of lobbying, but there is a red line that you should not transgress.” Her words echoed a statement last year by OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed” regarding free speech about Islam and terrorism. And he reported success: “The official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.”

In other words, “irresponsible” speech — that is, speech he disapproves of — must be banned.

Jacqui Smith couldn’t have said it better.