Freedom of speech is more sticky than religious freedom. Everyone recognizes that it is criminal to yell fire in a crowded theater. But should it be criminal to produce a video that offends members of a religion? The recent case over a placard ad on a Washington, DC, subway brought into focus just how difficult it is to draw a reasonable line.
Anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller, has placed ads in several transit areas in the U.S. In the New York subway it reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), claimed that the ad endangered passenger safety and refused to display it. She sued. Arguments before the court included citing the recent riots across the Muslim world over an obscure video and strong defense of the First Amendment.
Fortunately, the judge ruled that the placards could stay up. However, one had to be replaced because someone defaced it with a can of spray paint. Inevitably, discussion of "hate speech" came into the picture. And here it gets more sticky. Customarily speech was not legally "hateful" until it became "inciteful," commonly defined as calling for lawless, violent action.
The riots over the anti-Muhammad video were a maneuver to redefine "inciteful" to include mere "insulting," what Islam considers "blasphemy." To Islam, "insulting" becomes "inciteful," illustrating how one man's hate speech is another man's mere comment.
Muslims and homosexuals have not been content to attack American freedom of speech from within the U.S. They also see the forums on the world stage as a place to push their agendas. The main one is the United Nations. Muslim nations and the various "denominations" of Islam have banded together to pressure the UN leadership to promote "blasphemy" laws and treaties.
A highly influential Muslim leader in Saudi Arabia recently called on the United Nations to impose international restrictions on free speech, pushing member nations to criminalize any statement that insults Islam. He was speaking in response to the riots and violence that erupted in Muslim nations as the result of the "Innocence of Muhammad" video.
Every year since 1999, the 57-member-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation has pushed for the UN and individual countries to enforce "religious defamation" laws. They claim that this would protect all religions from insult, but would primarily promote their "blasphemy laws."
If such laws were evenly applied, Islam would be the worst offender. The Qur'an and other writings go far beyond just insulting other religions. Islam's central goal is world conquest for Allah. Anyone who resists must either die or accept slavery. As soul winners, how are we involved? That same effort will drag us into the fire of persecution as it becomes "insulting" to tell a sinner he is going to hell and needs Christ to save him. As the UN is pressured to adopt this stance, and the U.S. First Amendment is breached, Bible believers will feel the squeeze on our soul sinning, if not the dull knife of the beheaders.
For years, unbelievers have tried to label Chick tracts as "hate literature." So far, because of the wonderful bulwark of the First Amendment, it hasn't stuck. But the attack is intensifying. Unless we can raise righteousness back to where the people will elect godly leaders, that wall may topple. (See Proverbs 14:34.)
As soul winners, that's our Great Commission. The night is coming when no man can work. (See John 9:4.)