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U.N. General Assembly Urges Prohibition of "Ideas ... Aimed at Any Religion or Its Followers That Constitute Incitement to ... Hostility":

Jurist reports this happens last month, and points to this version of the resolution as the one that was passed. The paragraph I quoted above says that the UN General Assembly "Urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."

I think U.S. law is right to protect even racist viewpoints, as well as ones that advocate violence. But surely it is right to protect ideas that incite mere hostility to a religion. Anyone who argues Scientology, fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist Islam, or for that matter religion generally is foolish or dangerous will say things that are aimed at a religion and constitute incitement to hostility to a religion. The General Assembly resolution aims at the heart of the sort of speech that's necessary for free debate about ideas, not just at the periphery.

I noted two years ago that a similar resolution had been promulgated by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Resolution; now it's the U.N. General Assembly. Fortunately, this vote was 95-52, with nearly all the developed countries voted against. Let's hope that coalition continues to hold over the years.

Waldensian (mail):

Fortunately, this vote was 95-52, with nearly all the developed countries voted against. Let's hope that coalition continues to hold over the years.

Sure, but really, who cares if it doesn't? They could pass a resolution that I am 6-feet-5, and it would have about as much effect. I have never seen any reason to believe that votes by the UN can meaningfully affect domestic US politics or Constitutional rights.
1.4.2008 12:24am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Waldensian: What do you think of my post about that from a few years ago, quoting a leading American international law scholar?
1.4.2008 12:27am
neurodoc:
"Urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."
I don't understand. "Racism" is discrimination, hostility or violence directed at people on account of perceptible physical features like skin color, isn't it? And "xenophobia" is fear or distrust of strangers, usually those of different national origins. If the specific concern is to combat discrimination, hostility or violence on account of religion, why call for a prohibition on the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and materials?

Of course, this is all but a very unfunny joke, since the UN is readying to put on a Durban II, Durban I having been possibly the greatest rally of antisemites since Nurenburg. And the crudest expressions of antisemitism regularly issue from the Arab world, especially Palestinian organs, with no word of condemnation from the UN.
1.4.2008 1:12am
Frater Plotter:
If "hostility" meant hostility, there wouldn't be a problem here.

When we're talking about nations or street gangs, "hostility" involves people physically attacking each other, whether with guns and bombs or with brickbats and knives. And indeed, it's a pretty bad thing to stir up this kind of hostility against members of a religion -- or, really, against anyone at all.

But on the subject of religion, "hostility" doesn't mean violence; it means doubt. It means mentioning flaws, expressing disbelief, or even voting against politicians who want to impose their religious views by force. Generally, any discussion of religion that fails to fawn over it is labeled "hostility".
1.4.2008 1:47am
Wayne Jarvis:
This is a precursor for the resolution urging the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas that are hostile to the UN.
1.4.2008 7:33am
ralph:
This resolution would outlaw the entire Protestant church, which was founded on the belief that the Roman Catholic church had become corrupt. It would also outlaw any off-shoot denominations that do not agree with the mother church.

Fascinating what sort of mischief you can dream up with just a few words...
1.4.2008 8:54am
Beran Panasper:
"Urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."

The most notable source of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at religions and its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is, of course, Islam. Yet the UN clearly didn't have "resolute action" against Islamic hate and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence in mind when it crafted this resolution. Indeed, just the opposite... Islam is the victim, not the perpetrator, of discrimination and hostility.
1.4.2008 8:54am
Gary McGath (www):
I'm seeing an error message when I try to access that link.
1.4.2008 9:18am
ReaderY:
How do we know that U.S. law protects this? Why do we think it will continue to? The First Amendment has always been interpreted to have exceptions like libel, obscenity, etc. But if we simply look to foreign law rather than framer intent, U.S. history, or English common law, then what the U.N. says could just as eaily be a source of exceptions as the sources the Supreme Court has traditionally looked at.
1.4.2008 9:58am
Waldensian (mail):

What do you think of my post about that from a few years ago, quoting a leading American international law scholar?

With respect, and recognizing you know much more about this sort of thing than I do, I think the scholar is wrong, and I think your fears are unjustified.

I have never seen a coherent explanation of how, exactly, some ridiculous UN resolution is going to affect free speech rights in this country, nor am I aware of any examples of that happening. I have read elaborate theories of how this all might come to pass, but to me they read like futuristic conspiracy theories.

I'm reminded of the recent, and absolutely absurd, claims by the NRA that the UN was going to be able to ban guns in the U.S. Yet here I sit; I still have my Garand, and I'm trying to figure out how the UN is ever going to do be able to do anything about that.

The Supreme Court was on to something in 1957, apparently.
1.4.2008 10:08am
Ken Arromdee:
The US's conference didn't manage to ban anything because the US spoke up about it. The idea "we stopped them, so they were never a threat to begin with" is silly.
1.4.2008 11:33am
Tony Tutins (mail):
I wonder if this resolution means that Germany will have to accept that Scientology is a religion and not a money-making business (which incidentally must not operate on Sundays under the German Labor laws). Or does a particular religion have to be at least a century old to be recognized?

Waldensian: the UN seeks to ban possession of small arms in civilian hands. Your Garand is particularly heinous because it is a military weapon, obtained by a transaction between a State (the US) and a non-State actor (presumably, you). Not that your Garand is as desirable as an AK-47 would be in some third world rebellion, but supposedly the IRA would shop US gun shows and smuggle weapons to the British Isles, so you see their concern has some validity.
1.4.2008 11:40am
SenatorX (mail):
"Urges States to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."

They are making the Quran illegal?
1.4.2008 11:52am
Yankev (mail):

the crudest expressions of antisemitism regularly issue from the Arab world, especially Palestinian organs, with no word of condemnation from the UN.

When the UN considers religious discrimination, they say "Oh, we can't address anti-Semitism now; the Jews are a national/racial group." And when the UN meets to consider racial or ethnic discrimination, they explain "Oh, we can't address anti-Semitism now; the Jews are a religious group."
1.4.2008 2:20pm
cathyf:
material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence
So a muslim guy has a daughter who refuses to wear a hajib and he kills her. The prosecutor brings him up on charges, the judge presides over a trial, the jury convicts him, the judge sentences him to death, the state prison system imprisons him, the appeals courts uphold the sentence, and the executioners execute the guy.

Yep, looks to me like the legislature, prosecutor, jury, judge, appeals court were all inciting violence against this guy. The prison system and its executioners were not just inciting violence, they carried it out.
1.4.2008 6:24pm
KeithK (mail):
They are making the Quran illegal?

Nah, they just have to redact all of those pesky passages that discuss jihad.
1.4.2008 6:30pm
Waldensian (mail):

The US's conference didn't manage to ban anything because the US spoke up about it.

And this is precisely my point. All we have to do is speak up and poof, the UN's alleged power is gone.

How, exactly, is the UN going to bar, or even affect, the exercise of free speech rights in this country?
1.4.2008 11:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Waldensian.

It happens when something comes to court, to the campus speech police, to a libel trial, and the appeal by one side to the UN causes the other side additional expense and effort.
See Mark Steyn's view of winning against the HRC's complaints.

It's odd, on a lawyers' board, to have to remind people of the cost of winnng a frivolous and malicious case. It's almost as if they don't want people to think about it.
1.5.2008 10:58am
Issue #37:
Caling pope an old man gets you 2 years in jail in Poland (our ally in war in Iraq).
1.5.2008 7:41pm