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Thursday, November 08, 2018

 

What is free speech?


A recent Mark Steyn column notes that speech is not free if you can be fined or jailed for speaking freely.  Which is the case in Europe - and in many venues of American academia.



Calling Prophet Muhammad a Pedophile Does Not Fall Within Freedom of Speech: European Court

The subject of the comments was this:
Consider the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife who has lived in several Muslim countries. She was hauled into an Austrian court for calling Mohammed a pedophile on the grounds that he consummated his marriage when his bride, Aisha, was nine years old. Mrs. Sabbaditsch-Wolff was found guilty and fined 480 euros. The judge's reasoning was fascinating: 'Paedophilia is factually incorrect, since paedophilia is a sexual preference which solely or mainly is directed towards children. Nevertheless, it does not apply to Mohammad. He was still married to Aisha when she was 18.'

Ah, gotcha. So, under Austrian law, you're not a pedophile if you deflower the kid in fourth grade but keep her around till high school. There's a useful tip if you're planning a hiking holiday in the Alps this fall. Or is this another of those dispensations that is not of universal application? ...

The case concerned the applicant's conviction for disparaging religious doctrines; she had made statements suggesting that Muhammad had had paedophilic tendencies .

The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant's statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected...

Whoa, hold it right there. There was "no violation" of freedom of expression because the courts "carefully balanced" freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected - and came down on the side of protecting feelings rather than freedom of expression.

The late Jennifer Lynch, QC, then head of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission, used to talk about "balancing" free speech with other rights - and, then as now, "balancing" is code for nullifying: If your right to free speech has to be balanced with people's "feelings", then as a practical matter there is no free speech....

So it's not that it's illegal to "suggest" that the Big Mo "had paedophilic tendencies", it's just illegal to suggest there's anything wrong with that.

It gets worse: read the whole thing.

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