A Muslim cleric in Fuengirola, southern Spain, was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison for “advocating wifebeating”. I disagree entirely. If freedom of expression means anything it means unpopular speech must be protected. Otherwise it is meaningless. Assault is a crime which is already punished. This man has not assaulted anyone. Punishing someone for speech is unacceptable.
Furthermore, I have not read the book which was the cause for the sentence. The judge said it advocated violence against women but the cleric said there were NO words of his advocating such violence and the work is strictly his interpretation of the Koran. So it is even more troubling if a man cannot freely give his interpretation of what something means.
This is unacceptable. A free society can and should punish behaviors which it deems unacceptable but speech and discussion of ideas should be free and unpopular ideas should be very especially protected.
This is where free-speech runs up against advocating violence/crime. It’s a hairy area, but if the guy isn’t a citizen, and he’s advocating violence, then he should be shipped back. If I went to India, and started saying it was ok to break one of their laws I disagreed with, I suspect they’d ship me back too.
I don’t like the whole lack of respect for freedom of speech though. It’s a slippery slope.
He’d been doing it for some time. The government had been warning him to stop. Hey, it’s just like a message board! Too much hate speech, and you’re banned.
Considering the limitations that the American FCC is trying to impose on radio and TV content, I don’t think the French government was out of line at all. Advocating wifebeating is worse than “obscenity” in my book.
Yes we have freedom of speech - but not the freedom to act irresponsibly. And to me, advocating wife-beating seriously crosses the irresponsible line.
Also, I hear so much being said in defense of the Koran and Islam (esp after Sept 11th, 2001) and that Islam is the religion of peace.
It sure doesn’t seem that way to me.
The guy’s being deported from France, not the United States. Our freedom of speech in the US is guaranteed under the constitution. I don’t know if it’s guaranteed in France. And even in the US, your freedom of speech is limited - if your freedom of speech compromises the safety of others (the classic “yelling fire in a crowded theatre” thing.)
You’re treading in dangerous territory, me bucko. “It doesn’t seem that way to me” is a spurious argument. Plenty of crime is committed by people who follow other religions, too. That doesn’t make the religions invalid or “bad.”
When I said “we have freedom of speech”, I was speaking in my limited white male Euro-centric mentality thinking that most “Western” countries do allow freedom of speech. And I’m not being sarcastic about that.
As far as my being rather harsh in my judgment of the Islamic religion, maybe I’m being narrow-minded. If nothing else, I should have learned by now about the “never discuss politics or religion” doctrine by now.
By the way, I visited your site. I found your PC Editorial about political correctness interesting.
Naw, I think we ALWAYS need to have the option of discussing religion and politics. That’s how we educate one another. But there is a great deal of casual, tossed-off criticism of other people’s beliefs, and that is closed-minded. I don’t know beans about the Islamic religion, quite frankly, but until I do, I’d hesitate to use the “seems to me” argument. I can’t think of ANY religion whose doctrines haven’t been used to hurt someone else - including mine. But I also don’t think that your everyday garden-variety follower of any religion has the kind of dogma that results in violence to others. You’ll find extremists easily (they tend to be kinda loud and easily visible) but the majority of PEOPLE, in general, are not out to hurt others.
And since I almost NEVER get any feedback off my website (which I am in the process of updating this week) I’d like to hear more - my email is in my profile.
LifeonWry, freedom of speech is guaranteed in France under the European Convention on Human Rights (and additional protocols):
1)Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2)Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”
The ECHR is law in EU member states, enforceable by domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights.
You’ll notice, though, that freedom of expression under the ECHR may be limited in to protect the rights of others. Advocating wifebeating is also advocation of denying rights to others- wives, in this case. The French are on a pretty sound legal limb here.
Didn’t really question that - but I did want to point out that France is not bound to honor OUR Constitution. You can’t say the guy got shafted in France because his United States First Amendment rights were being violated.
If the cleric is not a EU citizen, and is a guest there then I suppose legally he can be expelled for causing any kind of problem.
The case of the Spanish cleric though is different because he was a Spanish national. In that case there is no excuse to punish him for merely expressing his ideas no matter how repugnant. The only case where expressions can be punished is when they are the immediate cause or immediate contributing cause to a crime.
A cleric who writes a book saying “God says a man is allowed to beat his wife when she disobeys him” should not be punished at all. He should be answered with arguments.
Now suppose a man arrives home and sytarts an argument with his wife for not having dinner ready on time. His friend adds fuel to the fire by saying “Are you going to put up with that crap? She deserves a lesson! beat her and teach her!” If this friend can be shown to be a direct cause of the beatig then he is responsible for causing it.
In the USA you can write a book advocating the violent overthrow of the government and that is not illegal. But if you encourage a mob to assault a police station then your speech is a crime.
While the French cleric can be expelled from France for any reason, if he was a French citizen this should be protected speech. No question.