Archive | Freedom of Speech Restricted by Thugs

Indian State Government Temporarily Blocks Release of Spy Thriller, Citing Fear of Riots by Muslims

Agence France-Presse reports:

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Thursday defended its ban on a new film …. Spy thriller “Vishwaroopam” was forced out of cinemas after Muslim groups complained that they were portrayed in a negative light ….

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram said her government was forced to impose the 15-day ban to prevent unrest across the state, because there was “every apprehension” that protests outside cinemas would turn violent….

She said the state did not have enough police to maintain law and order outside more than 500 cinemas that were due to show the movie.

[The director of the film], travelling to Mumbai on Friday for the film’s release there, has reportedly agreed to modify his movie to appease the protesting groups…. [The film] has already passed the country’s censorship board….

Acclaimed British author Salman Rushdie also faced the wrath of Muslim groups on Wednesday, forcing him to cancel a trip to the eastern city of Kolkata for a promotional event for the film “Midnight’s Children”.

Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” is seen as blasphemous by some Muslims, was also forced out of India’s biggest literature festival last year after apparent threats to his life.

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U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Testimony on the First Amendment and Anti-Muslim/Anti-Islam Speech

I was invited to testify on this subject at today’s U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing on Federal Civil Rights Engagement with the Arab and Muslim American Communities Post 9/11, so I thought I’d pass along my written remarks. You can read them in PDF form here, or in plain text below (though without the footnotes). My sense from the questions was that at least some commissioners (and not only the conservative ones) found the subject matter of the remarks interesting.

* * *

October 29, 2012

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
624 9th St., NW
Washington, DC 20425

Dear Members of the Commission:

I entirely agree that the religious freedom rights and free speech rights of Muslim Americans, as well as all other Americans, should be protected. I have publicly spoken out, for instance, in favor of applying religious accommodation law to Muslim employees as well as to others. I have condemned attempts to criticize Muslim office-holders for taking their oath of office on a Koran. I have spoken in favor of extending mosques the same property rights extended to other property owners, and against attempts to exclude mosques from particular areas. And I agree that the government should take steps to make Muslim Americans, like Americans of all religions, feel welcome in America.

At the same time, attempts to make adherents of minority religions feel welcome should not end up suppressing the free speech rights of others who seek to criticize those religions. Islam, like other belief systems — Catholicism, Scientology, libertarianism, feminism, or what have you — merits evaluation and, at times, criticism. And under the First Amendment, even intemperate and wrong-headed criticism is fully constitutionally protected. Yet unfortunately attempts at suppression of criticism of Islam have been distressingly frequent.

Universities: Thus, for instance, San [...]

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D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Ordered to Accept Bus Advertisement

The advertisement, which the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority was also ordered to run a few months ago, is this one:

The D.C. agency originally accepted the ad, scheduled to run Sept. 24, but then “deferr[ed]” it indefinitely on Sept. 18 “due to the situations happening around the world at this time” (apparently referring to the riots and murders overseas that were apparently partly contributed to by the YouTube release of the “Innocence of Muslims” video). Last Friday, a federal district court concluded that this likely violated the First Amendment, and ordered that the ad run starting 5 pm Eastern today. No word on whether the MTA would have likewise banned an ad quoting Hillary Clinton’s condemnation of the Libyan consulate attackers — who likely saw themselves as indeed waging “jihad,” though against America rather than Israel — as a “small and savage group,” or the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s claim that “The ‘Freedom Flotilla’ bearing supplies in May 2010 was savagely attacked by the Israeli navy.”

UPDATE: A quick thought on the underlying constitutional question, largely based on my earlier post and also this one: I sympathize with the arguments that the government, acting as service provider, should be able to exclude material that is likely to greatly alienate or offend some of its customers, while still making money from material that won’t have that effect. But the Court has generally rejected this argument, at least when it comes to the government’s discriminating within the category of ideological expression. The Court has concluded that viewpoint-based restrictions, even on government property that isn’t a “traditional public forum,” are unconstitutional. And this makes some sense, given just how much money and property the government owns (especially once one goes beyond just access to physical property, and gets to access to broadly [...]