Thursday, April 5, 2007

Well, Shut My Mouth!

I just read a recent article in the International Herald Tribune describes a resolution passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which strongly urged a prohibition on any speech that "defames religion." The resolution has its genesis in a block of Islamic nations, who want to see speech critical of Islam banned. They're offended by things like the Danish caricatures of Mohammed, or perhaps anything coming out of Salman Rushdie's mouth...breath included. Although the resolution was opposed by European countries, Japan, Canada, and South Korea, it passed nonetheless.

Such a ban, were it in force in the United States, could be used to silence...well...anyone. You could use it to prosecute the atheists who are still earnestly putting up their silly Blasphemy videos. You could use it to being critical of a cult like the Creciendo en Gracia movement. Were this in force worldwide, you could use it to coerce Mahmoud Ahmedinajad into silence about Judaism. Again, we see the fundamentalist incapacity to understand irony at play.

Fortunately, this Orwellian interpretation of what "human rights' means has no legal bearing at all. Freedom to be annoying is one of the necessary byproducts of a real democracy. As difficult as it might be for people who strongly hold to their faith, we've got to be willing to defend the rights of those who oppose us if we're to really honor our democracy.

It's a pity that so much of the world as of yet does not grasp that.