A Rookie Mistake Or A Portent Of Things To Come?

Not every country in the world has freedom of speech. In a case recently decided, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed an Austrian court’s conviction of her for denigrating the beliefs of an officially recognized religion by uttering “hate speech” against the prophet Mohammed. Unfortunately the European Court of Human Rights ruled against her appeal.

For those who came in late, the hateful words uttered by Elisabeth were in the form of a rhetorical question about Mohammed’s sexual relationship with a 9-year-old girl: “What would you call it, if not ‘pedophilia’?”

The European Court of Human Rights is made up of a group of countries considered to be part of western civilization. What Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff said is true, but evidently that fact did not help her case. How in the world did we get here? We need to realize that free speech is a gift that needs to be protected.

Meanwhile back in America, yesterday The Federalist posted an article about a recent statement by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Admittedly the new Congresswoman is not known for her knowledge of the U.S. Constitution or any familiarity with her new job description, but her comment is somewhat chilling.

The tweet below is her response to a meme about socialism that she did not find humorous:

There are some problems with that statement.

The article notes:

Now, in a perfect world, we’d be holding debates about the merits of state-controlled economies versus markets via more dignified forums and mediums, but that’s not how things go in 2018. Not only is this all absurdly juvenile, but Ocasio-Cortez should be aware that, per page 150 of the House Ethics Manual, “Members…are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals, or their partisan affiliation. Members and staff are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations.”

This seems like a small matter, but it is not. Essentially it is an incoming member of Congress threatening to use subpoena power against someone she disagrees with. Combine that with the censorship of conservatives on social media, the concept of ‘hate speech’ (who determines hate speech?), and the rumblings that the First Amendment is no longer needed, and you have the potential for Americans losing a large portion of their freedom. Pay attention and stay tuned. This may not have been a casual remark.



Europe’s War On Free Speech

Many years ago I met Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff at a dinner in Stoughton, Massachusetts (story here). She told her story of being charged with hate speech for teaching a course about Mohammad that included identifying him as a pedophile (story here).

Today, Reason posted an article about a decision by the European Court of Human Rights that most knowledgeable observers recognize as the case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. The title of the article is, “European Court: OK to Criminalize Calling Mohammed a Pedophile.”

The article reports:

The case, decided yesterday by the European Court of Human Rights, is E.S. v. Austria — I assume from the facts and from the initials that this is the Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff case. Here’s the court’s own summary:

Criminal conviction and fine for statements accusing the Prophet Muhammad of paedophilia: no violation

Facts – The applicant held seminars with the title “Basic information on Islam” at the right-wing Freedom Party Education Institute. At one such seminar, referring to a marriage which Muhammad had concluded with Aisha, a six-year old, and consummated when she had been nine, she stated inter alia “[Muhammad] liked to do it with children”, “the thing with Aisha and child sex” and “a 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do you call that? Give me an example? What do we call it, if it is not paedophilia?”

In 2011, as a result of these statements, the applicant was convicted of disparagement of religious precepts pursuant to Article 188 of the Criminal Code. She was sentenced to pay a fine of EUR 480, or serve 60 days of imprisonment in the event of default.

The domestic courts made a distinction between child marriages and paedophilia. In their opinion, by accusing Muhammad of paedophilia, the applicant had merely sought to defame him, without providing evidence that his primary sexual interest in Aisha had been her not yet having reached puberty or that his other wives or concubines had been similarly young. In particular, the applicant had disregarded the fact that the marriage with Aisha had continued until the Prophet’s death, when she had already turned eighteen and had therefore passed the age of puberty.

The thing to remember here is that there is no regard for truth here.  What Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff said about Mohammad is true, but according to Sharia Law, any speech that a Muslim does not like can be considered slander. In a country under Sharia Law, you can be executed for slander. Is Europe moving toward a Sharia Law definition of slander by calling it hate speech? In America we have the First Amendment (at least for now). We need to protect our First Amendment rights because they are somewhat unique–even in the western world. In Britain and Canada pastors have been charged with hate speech for quoting the Bible on such issues as homosexuality. Their pastors are not free to share the Bible in its entirety. In America we need to make sure we elect leaders who will abide by the Constitution and protect free speech.

I strongly suggest you follow the link above to read the entire article at Reason. The thought that you can go to prison for telling the truth is chilling.


Why We Shouldn’t Get Involved In Syria

On Tuesday, the Washington Post posted an article about the Syrian rebels. It seems that the rebels, which we are considering sending aid to, executed a fourteen-year-old boy because he insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

The article reports:

When a 14-year-old boy from the Syrian city of Aleppo named Mohammad Qatta was asked to bring one of his customers some coffee, he reportedly refused, saying, “Even if [Prophet] Mohammed comes back to life, I won’t.”

According to a story reported by two grassroots Syrian opposition groups, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center, Qatta’s words got him killed. A group of Islamist rebels, driving by in a black car, reportedly heard the exchange. They stopped the car, grabbed the boy and took him away.

The boy was later brought back to the place where he was grabbed, and shot to death in front of his family.

The article concludes:

The influx of avowed jihadists and extremists is bad news for Syrians, and not just because those under rebel rule have to worry about sharing Qatta’s fate if they are perceived as insufficiently pious. The growth of these groups seems bound to exacerbate tensions between rebel factions, easing Assad’s military path to victory, and scaring off the Western powers that might otherwise be persuaded to lend the rebels greater support. Lots of people in and outside of Syria could get behind the idea of ousting a cruel and unpopular dictator and replacing him with something more democratic. But few things are more universally loathed than an al-Qaeda-allied group that executes children.

Unfortunately, there is no one we should support in the Syrian civil war. It is unfortunate that civilians are the victims in this struggle, but this is a struggle that will not have a happy ending–neither side supports any sort of freedom for the people of Syria. To further complicate things, Russia and Iran are working very hard to keep the current regime in place. Our involvement in the Syrian civil war would essentially put us in a proxy war with Russia and Iran. We have been in a proxy war with Iran for years, but I really don’t think it would be wise to add Russia to the mix.

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A Contrast In Values

Hamas has repeatedly told Israel, “We love death more than you love life.” That is the culture of Palestine–Hamas rules Palestine. This week there was a vivid illustration of that statement.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line reported that Mariam Farhat died in Gaza City after a long illness. She had been previously elected to the legislature in Gaza. She was the mother of six sons, but three died while committing suicide missions in Israel.

The article reports the touching story of her son Mohammed:

In a video that mother and son made together just before the attack, Farhat said: “I wish I had 100 boys like Mohammad. I’d sacrifice them for the sake of God.”

“When I see all the Jews in Palestine killed, that will be enough for me,” his mother said on camera. “I wish he will kill as many as he can, so they will be scared.” …

The video showed Mohammed holding hands with his mother, who prayed for him to become a “martyr,” the term Palestinians use for militants killed in attacks on Israelis. Armed with grenades and automatic rifles, he broke into a study hall, killing five seminary students before he was shot dead by a soldier.

Hamas supervised Mrs. Farhat’s funeral.

After reading Mrs. Farhat’s statement and seeing that she was honored for the sacrifice of her sons, I have no reason to believe there will ever be peace in the Middle East unless this kind of thinking changes.

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Let’s Stop A Minute And Think About This

France 24 posted an article today stating that France will close 20 embassies across the Muslim world on Friday after French weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked. Now wait a minute. I’m really not into naked pictures of Mohammed, but what is going on here? Did anyone notice that there were no riots after the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” was released? That movie was certainly as obnoxious to Christians as naked cartoons of Mohammed would be to Muslims.There were some peaceful protests, as allowed by American law, but no one was killed.

At some point you have to ask, “Is the problem the film, pictures, cartoon, or whatever the current medium is, or is the problem with the protesters?” There is nothing wrong with gathering in a group carrying signs expressing your opinion–killing people, however, is another matter. I recently heard an interview where someone who had spent considerable time in Iran talked about students who were called and told to be at a specific place for a spontaneous protest. I don’t even have a problem with that (provided they are peaceful protests). I wonder if part of the reason that protests seem to get out of hand in Muslim countries is that the right of protest is not universally guaranteed–protests are organized by the government or groups opposing the government and seem to be designed to get out of hand.  A spontaneous protest in a Muslim country is generally not allowed.

Over the years, Muslim leaders have mastered the art of propaganda. They have painted Israel as an apartheid state when Arabs in Israel have more freedom in Israel than they do in Muslim countries. The protests we are seeing are a part of that propaganda war. The protests are designed to make the western countries open to a concept found in Sharia Law–disrespecting Mohammed is punishable by death. The theory is that as violent protests follow any perceived slight to Mohammed or the Koran, the west will be intimidated into curtailing free speech in western countries. This is the beginning of the path to Sharia Law.

As western countries, we need to learn to condemn the people who commit violence–regardless of the perceived cause. Bad behavior needs to have consequences. Otherwise we will continue to see more of it.

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Sometimes I Just Have An Attitude Problem

Yesterday’s New York Times reported on the antics of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other detainees being tried at Guantanamo as the planners of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. Needless to say, the trial is a something of a circus because of the behavior of these five men. Al Qaeda and its related groups have very little respect for the American justice system (military or civilian), and play our courts and our media very well. I don’t have any other comments on the article, but I mention it because it leads to what I want to say.

Today’s New York Post posted a story by Gary Buiso explaining some of the details of how we eventually collected information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Just as America waterboards many of its military to prepare them for what will happen to them if they are taken prisoner by an enemy of America, Al Qaeda and related groups prepare their terrorists for what will happen to them if the Americans capture them (we used to capture them and send them somewhere for questioning–now we simply kill them with drones and cut off our source of information). The source of the story in The New York Post is a book titled “Hard Measures” by ex-CIA official José Rodriguez, Jr.

The article at the New York Post mentions Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s response to waterboarding. He had been coached on how it worked and how long it would last, and he simply counted on his fingers until it was over. Waterboarding alone would not have resulted in America getting the information we needed to understand the organization of Al Qaeda and eventually find Osama Bin Laden.

So what made Khalid Sheikh Mohammed talk–the experiencial equivalent of having a newborn baby in the house!

Ex-CIA official José Rodriguez Jr., told The Post:

The first day he was in custody, Mohammed — who attended college in Greensboro, NC — initially pretended to only speak Urdu, fooling no one. Officers forced him to stand, and after hours of questioning, his weakness for shut-eye began to show.

“Here’s the deal,” an interrogator said. “I know you speak English. I want you to politely ask me to let you go to sleep.”

The idea was to demonstrate to Mohammed “that he was no longer in control,” Rodriguez says. Officers would later keep him awake for 180 hours straight — 7 1/2 days. Loud noises and stress positions — where a detainee is shackled and forced to stand, putting intense pressure on the leg muscles — were used.

Other than the stress positions, that really does sound a lot like different stages of parenting. One of my daughters had a child who finally slept through the night after about a year. By the time that year was over, I think she and her husband would have given about anything for a good night sleep. As for loud noises, what do you say to parents who are raising a child who is a gifted drummer?

My point here is that there is a legal definition of torture–it does not include simply making someone uncomfortable.

The article reminds us:

One of Mohammed’s frequently stated goals was to be put on trial in civilian court in New York — which nearly happened until Congress last year blocked the Justice Department from transferring any Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States.

“It seemed to us that he was looking for a platform from which he could spout his hatred for all things American, and a trial would certainly present that opportunity,” Rodriguez writes. “It strikes me as more than a little ironic that several years later, Attorney General Eric Holder almost granted KSM his wish.”

A civilian trial in New York would have been made into a circus with the antics of these five prisoners. Thank God it never happened.

There is one other comment in the New York Post article I would like to mention:

“More than one detainee expressed surprise when slapped, and told the interrogator, ‘Hey, you aren’t supposed to do that!’ The al Qaeda training manual told them that Americans would treat them with kid gloves!” Rodriguez writes.

We can’t win the war on terror wearing kid gloves. Even if we are not planning to use torture, it might be a good idea to let our enemies think we are. We are not dealing with nice people–we are dealing with people who cut off the heads of innocent people with dull knives and think it is fun. We need to remember that.


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Why I Am Concerned About Free Speech

The thing to remember when dealing with Muslim blasphemy laws is that under Sharia Law, the charge of blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. If what has been said about the Muslim religion or its past or present leaders is negative, it can be considered blasphemy, whether it is true or not. I believe that in America some time in the near future, we will see the same standard applied to the concept of ‘hate speech’ against Islam. The case of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria is an example of this happening in the European Union.

Front Page Magazine posted an interview with of Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff today. Please follow the link to read the entire article–it is fascinating. Because of her years of living in Muslim countries in the Middle East, both under Sharia Law and under secular governments, she understands totally how Muslims use ‘hate speech’ laws to curtail free speech.

In the article she explains where she is and how she got there:

What happened? A young woman, a journalist, had infiltrated two of my seminars in October and November, illegally recording my presentation, and then reported me to the Austrian authorities, who in turn began an official investigation. The charge: Hate speech.

The outpouring of criticism from official Austria was astounding. From the vice chancellor to the chief rabbi, from a high-ranking bishop to party leaders: My statements – all taken out of context – were condemned through and through. I was even compared to Bin Laden by one Muslim official. Not one of these so-called leaders bothered to ask for clarification from my side. I was to be vilified, my statements were to be condemned, for two reasons. First, I gave these seminars for the “right-wing, xenophobic” Freedom Party and second, the content of the seminars described Islam.

She continues:

Simply put, I have now been made a victimless convict. On December 20, 2011, my conviction for denigration of a legally recognized religion was upheld by the higher court.

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating. The Austrian state has created a victimless crime, and a criminal without a single victim.

The trial is now officially over. There is only one way to appeal, and that is taking the matter to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. But– this will cost a lot of money and will take a lot time (6-8 years minimum).

The law that Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted under took effect in November 2010, when all members of the European Union were required to implement the “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia”, or, more fully, the “Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008. The intent of the law was to combat racism and xenophobia. The impact of the law was to severely limit free speech.  

In the article, Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff details here supposed ‘crime’:

What was the reason for this conviction, you may ask. Well, during the course of my seminars, I mentioned the choking EU directive “Framework decision on combating racism and xenophobia,” and in order to illustrate my point I told the audience about a conversation I had with my sister and how she believed that one should find a different word for Mohammed’s actions with Aisha. I said, “How does one name what he did if not call it pedophilia?” And this sentence got me convicted, for I am allowed by law to say that Mohammed had sex with a young girl, but I may not qualify this behavior as this is deemed “excessive” and thus denigrating.

Again, under Sharia Law, blasphemy has nothing to do with truth. Evidently, under the new speech rules in the EU, that is also true.


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