There oughtta be a law.
Actually there is, just about.
The non-binding United Nations Resolution 62/145, was passed very quietly a year or so ago. It's called "Combating Defamation of Religion," which sounds nice enough. The idea is to stop defamation of all religions. Islam is the only one mentioned, though.
That's because of "the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001...." Like I said, your buddies kill a few thousand people, and people just won't let you forget.
In some circles, at least, you'd better be all for this attempt to keep people from saying things that Usama bin Laden and President Ahmadinejad don't like: because if you don't, you're a supporter of Islamophobia.
This Kind of Protection We Don't NeedI know what it's like to experience blasphemy. A college professor down the road exercised his academic freedom recently by desecrating a Host. While he was at it, he tore a page out of the Quran, and tossed the lot in the trash.
Then he took a photo and, in somewhat loud taste, posted it.
I'm not a happy camper about that. Particularly since I'm a devout Catholic, and taxed to pay that blasphemer's salary.
But nobody said that life is fair.
I think that it might be appropriate to see if the sort of theft involved in getting the Host he used is prosecutable, but I do not want a law on the books that says that "blasphemy" is illegal: particularly one that singles out Catholics as a protected class.
Special treatment may feel good in the short run, but I think it leads to resentment from people who aren't so privileged, and arrogance on the part of the preferred people.
American law has enough provisions covering libel and slander, to say nothing of physical attacks. I'll settle for that.
The Incredible Disappearing ResolutionNon-binding United Nations Resolution 62/145 isn't available any more. I tried the link provided in a FOXNews article, repeatedly, and got this message from the un.org website:
"There is an end-user problem. If you have reached this site from a web link,
- Through your internet options, adjust your privacy settings to allow cookies or
- Check your security settings and make sure this site has not been blocked or
- You are probably using a very slow link that may not work well with this application.
Otherwise you have reached this site through unauthorized means."
I looked for the resolution with a Google search, and came up with zilch. I would expect that something this high-profile would be easier to find.
Make that 'that should be this high-profile.' There's precious little in the news about Resolution 62/145, "Combating the Defamation of Religion."
Maybe it's not considered all that important, with American presidential elections coming up, a melt-down on Wall Street and a global credit crisis.
On the other hand, maybe most editors don't want to be accused of supporting Islamophobia.
Beware Profiling! Beware!The United Nations resolution focuses on the "ethnic and religious profiling" of Muslims.
The word "profiling" has gotten abused lately. The idea is that all profiling is like: that appalling stunt played by Israeli airport security, when Abdur-Rahim Jackson was forced to dance before he was allowed to leave the terminal at the Ben Gurion airport; or forcing a woman to take off her nipple rings at the Lubbock, Texas, airport. And, yes, given the way "profiling" is used these days, the Lubbock incident was a result of pierced-people profiling.
That's the lunatic side of "profiling."
There's another sort, which may be used to identify individuals or members of a group. There can be good reasons for this sort of profiling.
A Personal AnecdoteI'm pretty sure I've been the subject of individual profiling. Several years ago (pre-9/11), my daughter and I were taken aside and subjected to a particularly careful search, twice, at the same airport: once on our way to a destination, and again on the way back.
I never got an explanation for this inconvenience, but I think I must have looked like someone that law enforcement was looking for. Which is understandable. I've got a full beard, use a cane, and have a big nose. Odds are, I was close enough to a (probably vague) description to warrant some special attention.
Beware Tall Blonds!I proposed a thought exercise last year, to put profiling in perspective.
Briefly, I suggested a hypothetical situation where a group of Scandinavian Lutherans, driven to homicidal rage by America's lack of appreciation for lutefisk, had blown up the Sears Tower in Chicago by flying airliners into it. Most of the Lutherans involved were from Sweden. Under those (again, hypothetical) circumstances, I think it would be reasonable to be particularly suspicious of a group boarding an airliner at the Minneapolis St.Paul International Airport, in August, if they were:
- Tall blond men
- Wearing bulky overcoats
- Singing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
And sometimes, as in Mr. Jackson's case, it most profoundly doesn't.
Back to Resolution 62/145I wish I could have had access to that "Combating the Defamation of Religion" resolution. It might have made more sense that it seems to. As it is, I'm left with a fragment from a news article, that makes me very concerned about the possibility of preferential treatment.
Not that one group being more equal than others is anything particularly new.
One phrase quoted from Resolution 62/145,
"...notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001..." is very close to a 2004 resolution (), part of which reads,
"...Notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001..."
The only difference I could see was that the earlier resolution had two more commas, and the phrase, "the tragic events." This is nit-picking: but has blowing away 3,000+ people become less tragic lately?
The Dark Side of Protecting IslamI'm not sure what I think of this argument, but I'll quote from one of the few articles on this "Combating the Defamation of Religion" resolution.
"Critics give some recent news events as examples of how the U.N. "blasphemy resolution" has emboldened Islamic authorities and threatened Westerners:" The list that follows details
- Great Britain
Three men charged for plotting to kill the publisher of the novel "The Jewel of Medina," a fictional account of the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride
A student is on death row for downloading an article about the role of women in Islam
- [Unspecified location]
Two foreigners sentenced to six months in prison for marketing a book deemed offensive to Aisha, one of the Prophet Muhammad's wives
A British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in jail in Sudan for offending Islam (see "British Teacher Home from Sudan:
Gillian Gibbons, Muslim Clerics, and a Teddy Bear named Mohammed" (December 3, 2007))
An Internet blogger sentenced to four years in prison for writing a post that critiqued Islam
- The Netherlands
Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh killed after the release of his documentary highlighting the abuse of Muslim women
Islamophobic? I Don't Think SoGiven what little information is available about "Combating the Defamation of Religion," I don't think that questioning the resolution amounts to supporting Islamophobia.
In the news:
- "US Mounting Effort To Counter Limits on Speech Critical of Islam"
Assyrian International News Agency (October 3, 2008)
- "The Bush administration, European governments and advocates of freedom of speech are ramping up efforts to counter what they see as a campaign by Muslim countries to suppress speech about religion, especially Islam...."
- "Embassy Row: DEFENDING FREE SPEECH"
Washington Times op ed (October 3, 2008)
- "Advocates of free speech and religious liberty Thursday denounced the latest efforts at the United Nations to impose what they call "blasphemy laws" on critics of Islam.
- " 'An anti-defamation law is a wolf in sheep's clothing,' said Kevin Hasson, founder and president of the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. 'In passing these resolutions, the United Nations is damaging its credibility in the name of protecting hurt feelings.'..."
- "U.N. Anti-Blasphemy Resolution Curtails Free Speech, Critics Say"
FOXNews.com (October 3, 2008)
- "Religious groups and free-speech advocates are banding together to fight a United Nations resolution they say is being used to spread Sharia law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam...."
- "Human Rights Council: The fight-back begins"
Europe News / International Humanist and Ethical Union (September 30, 2008)
- "In what was probably a first for the United Nations, delegates to the Human Rights Council heard two Muslims describe Islamism as 'Racism' and tell their listeners that the OIC does not speak for the majority of the world's Muslims. Danish MP and leader of the Liberal Alliance Naser Khader, and Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress were eloquent in their denunciation of the OIC, its Saudi paymesters, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood...."
- "US Leading Fight Against Islamophobia Resolution At UN
TruthNews (September 4, 2008)
- "The Bush administration, European governments, and religious rights organizations are coalescing to defeat a UN General Assembly resolution that would demand respect for Islam in a preferential way and could be used to even justify persecution of other religious minorities...."
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.