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October 5, 2012

Europe's fight over free speech flares up again

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

One of the most blessed parts of the US Constitution is the right of the people to say what they feel without fear of arrest. Of course, one cannot go into a theater and cry, “Fire!” without being locked up for starting a riot; but if you want to stand on the street corner to let your opinion be known or post to Twitter, all of us can do so knowing that the government is not going to be at our door with an arrest warrant.

Sometimes, the free speech clause in our Constitution does anger people, but the same free speech that allowed someone to make people angry can be used to respond. This is a true blessing for America.

In other parts of the world, free speech is not so free. And currently in Europe, Muslims are pressing the case to exempt free speech rights from those who may want to mock Mohammed, the one they see as a prophet. 

German courts recently upheld free speech rights when politicians have tried to stop the airing of provocative material. In May, a small right wing party, Pro-NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), held up anti-Islamic caricatures in front of mosques – some depicting Muslims as terrorists. Some Muslims in Bonn responded with violent protests.

Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, banned the cartoons. But the Federal Constitutional Court overruled him, saying the caricatures alone did not represent a grave enough threat to public order and security to limit free speech. Still, the court could have ruled otherwise.

The French response to cartoons lampooning Mohammed that were published in the weekly French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, shows Europe’s confused approach to freedom of expression, analysts say. The largely secular and atheistic French have accommodated insulting portrayals of Christianity. And when protesters threatened to voice their opinions by marching to oppose the cartoons, French officials banned the marches.

“I think genuinely that is a discussion and debate that has to happen at a national level because if you take Germany, there are particular sensitivities and particular historical resonances which are different than for example would exist in the French context,” Tonra said.

I thank God I live in America.

Europe’s fight over free speech flares up again: “”

(Via USA Today.)

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Europe's fight over free speech flares up again

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

One of the most blessed parts of the US Constitution is the right of the people to say what they feel without fear of arrest. Of course, one cannot go into a theater and cry, “Fire!” without being locked up for starting a riot; but if you want to stand on the street corner to let your opinion be known or post to Twitter, all of us can do so knowing that the government is not going to be at our door with an arrest warrant.

Sometimes, the free speech clause in our Constitution does anger people, but the same free speech that allowed someone to make people angry can be used to respond. This is a true blessing for America.

In other parts of the world, free speech is not so free. And currently in Europe, Muslims are pressing the case to exempt free speech rights from those who may want to mock Mohammed, the one they see as a prophet. 

German courts recently upheld free speech rights when politicians have tried to stop the airing of provocative material. In May, a small right wing party, Pro-NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), held up anti-Islamic caricatures in front of mosques – some depicting Muslims as terrorists. Some Muslims in Bonn responded with violent protests.

Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, banned the cartoons. But the Federal Constitutional Court overruled him, saying the caricatures alone did not represent a grave enough threat to public order and security to limit free speech. Still, the court could have ruled otherwise.

The French response to cartoons lampooning Mohammed that were published in the weekly French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, shows Europe’s confused approach to freedom of expression, analysts say. The largely secular and atheistic French have accommodated insulting portrayals of Christianity. And when protesters threatened to voice their opinions by marching to oppose the cartoons, French officials banned the marches.

“I think genuinely that is a discussion and debate that has to happen at a national level because if you take Germany, there are particular sensitivities and particular historical resonances which are different than for example would exist in the French context,” Tonra said.

I thank God I live in America.

Europe’s fight over free speech flares up again: “”

(Via USA Today.)

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