The Obama administration has marked its first foray into the UN human rights establishment by backing calls for limits on freedom of expression. The newly-minted American policy was rolled out at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended in Geneva on Friday.
[…]In introducing the resolution on Thursday, October 1–adopted by consensus the following day–the ranking U.S. diplomat, Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Griffiths, crowed:
“The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
His Egyptian counterpart, Ambassador Hisham Badr, was equally pleased–for all the wrong reasons. He praised the development by telling the Council that “freedom of expression . . . has been sometimes misused,” insisting on limits consistent with the “true nature of this right” and demanding that the “the media must . . . conduct . . . itself in a professional and ethical manner.”
[…]Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, made it clear that they understand the resolution and its protection against religious stereotyping as allowing free speech to be trumped by anything that defames or negatively stereotypes religion. The idea of protecting the human rights “of religions” instead of individuals is a favorite of those countries that do not protect free speech and which use religion–as defined by government–to curtail it.
Speaking as a Christian who values religious liberty, I would not use the power of the state to silence the free speech of people who “offend” me by disagreeing with me. That’s fine with me. In any case, these “human rights” laws are almost never used to defend the free speech of Christians. The fact that Egypt and Pakistan approve of Obama’s plan doesn’t fill me with confidence about who is likely to benefit.
Now might be a good time to review how restrictions on free speech worked out in Canada, where offended Muslims sue news publications and news magazines for citing the actual words of radical Imams or publishing the Mohammed cartoons.