pageok
pageok
pageok
The UN Human Rights Council Resolution on "Defamation of Religion" and the Influence of Repressive Regimes on International Human Rights Law:

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution supporting the suppression of speech that "defames" religion. The resolution is not considered to be binding international law in and of itself, but many experts claim that such resolutions should be considered in determining what counts as "customary international law."

The substantive weaknesses of the resolution are fairly obvious. In any society where people advocate public policies based at least in part on religious reasoning, free political debate is impossible unless opponents have the right to criticize that reasoning. Even when adherents of a given religion do not seek to use the power of the state to impose their views, open debate over the merits of those views is vital. For example, when the Catholic Church claims that the use of contraceptives is forbidden by God (but does not argue that contraception should be forbidden by the state), skeptics should be able to reply by arguing that the Church has misinterpreted God's will or even that there is no God in the first place.

The UN Human Rights Council resolution also exemplifies a crucial procedural weakness of international human rights law: the extensive role of repressive authoritarian states in determining its content. Most of the nations that voted for the Human Rights Council resolution are oppressive dictatorships, whereas most liberal democracies opposed it. As I explained in this post, the same thing happened when a similar resolution passed the UN General Assembly in 2007. Obviously, authoritarian regimes like the resolution because they can use it to suppress criticism of religions they seek to promote. For example, the present resolution was sponsored and promoted by the Organization of Islamic Countries; most OIC members are dictatorships that have Islam as their official religion and they have an obvious interest in suppressing critics of Islam or even advocates of more liberal interpretations of Islam that view it as compatible with individual freedom and democracy.

To the extent that the content of human rights law is influenced by the very sorts of governments most likely to violate rights, that content is likely to do more to support their repressive activities than curb them. Unfortunately, that problem is far from limited to this particular resolution. As John McGinnis and I discuss in this forthcoming article, it afflicts many other aspects of international human rights law as well. Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, usually considered the most important international human rights treaty, includes repression-justifying provisions inserted at the behest of Joseph Stalin and his communist allies. Indeed, Article 7 of the UDHR (inserted because of Soviet influence) can easily be used to justify banning "defamation of religion," since it forbids speech that incites "discrimination" and any speech critical of a religious doctrine might inspire "discrimination" against that religion's adherents.

The fact that the content of international human rights law is heavily influenced by oppressive governments does not prove that all of that content is harmful. Brutal dictatorships might sometimes support beneficial legal norms, and certainly democratic governments often support harmful ones. However, as John and I explain in our article, it does suggest that we should be wary of allowing such international law to displace the domestic law of liberal democracies. Although there will be exceptions, on average the domestic human rights law of democratic states is likely to be far better than international human rights law whose content has been heavily influenced by repressive regimes.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Vaclav Havel on the UN Human Rights Council:
  2. The UN Human Rights Council Resolution on "Defamation of Religion" and the Influence of Repressive Regimes on International Human Rights Law:
  3. Assessing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
John Moore (www):
The UN Human Rights Council resolution also exemplifies a crucial procedural weakness of international human rights law: the extensive role of repressive authoritarian states in determining its content.


That and then some. The lack of a universal enforcement mechanism is a second problem.

A third, very critical one, is the indirect nature of international law (sort of like EU law) - those voting on it are far removed from the populace - even in democratic societies.

International law too often is a plaything of elites in democracies and a tool of tyrants elsewhere. The term is almost an oxymoron in its more modern incarnations.
3.30.2009 12:13am
Larrya (mail) (www):
The lack of a universal enforcement mechanism is a second problem.
Did you read the article? Lack of an enforcement mechanism in such cases is a feature, not a bug.
3.30.2009 12:34am
John Moore (www):
I was referring to international law in general.

I agree it is a feature in because of the other deficiencies. If one wanted true international law (and I don't), then lack of enforcement would indeed be a bug.
3.30.2009 12:45am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
This is a tempest in search of a teapot.
3.30.2009 1:07am
Patrick who commented above (mail):
Fwiw, I did a brief exercise to calculate the average Freedom House scores for the States voting for, abstaining and against. Respectively, they were 4.55, 2.5 and 1.25, on a scale of 1-7 on which 7 is terrible and 1 is good.

What a sick system.

And fwiw, the document is basically only about Islam. It even expressly refers to Islamophobia twice. I'd laugh if it wasn't sick.
3.30.2009 1:59am
Perhaps . . .:
the appropriate response would be to drown those who favor these odious restrictions on free expression in vats of pig blood?
3.30.2009 3:08am
progressoverpeace (mail):
The main problem with the UN goes right to its rotted theoretical foundation. The idea that anyone would want an empowered, peerless, competitionless entity is nothing but pure insanity. Even national governments have peers and competition (and we are all familiar with how those governments that tried to restrict this national competition turned out), but the UN floats on some utopian bubble in the minds of many people. It is insanity and every move by the UN just goes to prove that the growth of empowered, peerless, competitionless enitites is guaranteed to be grotesque and destructive. The UN is the Utopian Nightmare that anyone with a brain knew would turn out as it is. The only intelligent move is to totally disempower it and reduce it to nothing but a communications channel, or dissolve it (the best choice).

This idiocy with the "defamation of islam" resolution (which is what it is) is just indicative of the insane direction in which this monstrous organization wants to go and will push for the future.
3.30.2009 5:59am
PersonFromPorlock:
Another example of how the meaning of 'freedom' has been perverted from 'freedom to', which liberates, to 'freedom from', which restricts. My standing suggestion is to stop using 'freedom' and instead use 'liberty', which has retained its original meaning - so far.
3.30.2009 8:38am
Joe T Guest:
Did you read the article? Lack of an enforcement mechanism in such cases is a feature

I'd say rioting mobs setting cars alight, storming embassies, death threats and cutting heads off is a pretty good enforcement mechanism. It's sure kept most of the media in this country in check.
3.30.2009 8:43am
ArthurKirkland:
Religion makes people do silly things, from trying to outlaw criticism to trying to make fellow citizens mouth words such as "under God" in a Pledge of Allegiance.

Worth repeating: There is no nuttiness like religious nuttiness.
3.30.2009 10:57am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :
What an incredible indictment of religion this whole episode is.

If religion -- any religion -- were the least bit coherent or convincing, it wouldn't need or even request special protection from criticism.

Whoever heard of a group of physicists demanding a resolution supporting the suppression of speech that "defames" the theory of gravity?
3.30.2009 11:18am
geokstr:

ArthurKirkland:
Religion makes people do silly things, from trying to outlaw criticism to trying to make fellow citizens mouth words such as "under God" in a Pledge of Allegiance.

Worth repeating: There is no nuttiness like religious nuttiness.

Jesus H. Christ, let's have a little perspective here.

There is "nuttiness" and then there is stark-raving evil lunacy.

Have you followed what the those cute little "nutty" Muslims do, and what their holy book advocates, everywhere on this planet? The killing of homosexuals and apostates, decapitating little girls for going to school, taqqiyah (lying to infidels about just about everything), genocide against Jews and Christians, the enslavement of women, forced conversions, honor killings, arranged marriages to first cousins, pedophilia, and lots of other "nutty" things. These are NOT isolated instances; some are official national policies in many Muslim countries, others are common occurences in Muslim communities the world over, and most are preached by the imams in mosques even in the US.

The left in this country apparently thinks that Christians are beyond evil for being against abortion and gay marriage, or liking the phrase "under God". This kind of perversion of the meaning of words like "evil" means that you don't even have anywhere to go to describe what Islam preaches to its adherents, snd what it does to non-believers.

It's multiculti PC run amok. After all, every culture is equally valid and every religion apparently equally "nutty". Who are we to judge?
3.30.2009 11:30am
whit:

Whoever heard of a group of physicists demanding a resolution supporting the suppression of speech that "defames" the theory of gravity?



it's not just limited to religion.

in some countries it is illegal to deny the holocaust happened.

so, by your "logic", the truth of the holocaust is neither coherent or convincing, since it has special protection.
3.30.2009 11:34am
geokstr:

davidb:
What an incredible indictment of religion this whole episode is.

If religion -- any religion -- were the least bit coherent or convincing, it wouldn't need or even request special protection from criticism.

More total lack of perspective.

How many other religionous organizations are behind the suppression of free speech embodied by this resolution, other than Islam? But if one is, the rest are equally "indicted", eh?

Whoever heard of a group of physicists demanding a resolution supporting the suppression of speech that "defames" the theory of gravity?

Not the theory of gravity, perhaps, but you hear this kind thing every day about the theory of globa...er...anthropogenic climate change from groups of "scientists" about their climate theory du jour. James Hansen even says that some people should be imprisoned for disagreeing with him.
3.30.2009 11:49am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Whoever heard of a group of physicists demanding a resolution supporting the suppression of speech that "defames" the theory of gravity?


Well actually on this site we've discussed people (can't recall if they were scientists or just environmentalists) who have called for the criminal prosecution of those who challenged the theory of AGW. Considering how important the leaders of many countries and NGOs think that it is to pay lip service to "issue" of "climate change," I think that would be more a more apt comparison.
3.30.2009 11:57am
ArthurKirkland:
Before assigning Christians any higher ground from a moral perspective, it would be worthwhile to consider the record from the recent (facilitation and concealment of sexual abuse of children, compounded by systematic mistreatment of the victims) to the more distant (the Crusades).

I agree that forcing "under God" into a Pledge of Allegiance, and denying an eight-year-old admission to scouting because he won't mouth the words associated with a belief in a particular strain of the supernatural, and the like become minor petty points against a background of "holy wars," torture and statutory rape, but they are instructive points nonetheless. A bully is sometimes distinct from a despot primarily consequent to the amount of available power.
3.30.2009 12:09pm
Joe T Guest:
Religion makes people do silly things,

Yeah, like running hospitals and schools for the poor, preaching insane stuff like "love your neighbor as yourself," and preaching for an end to things like the death penalty and war.

I can't imagine a more insane branch of human endeavor than that.
3.30.2009 12:18pm
geokstr:

ArthurKirkland:
Before assigning Christians any higher ground from a moral perspective, it would be worthwhile to consider the record from the recent (facilitation and concealment of sexual abuse of children, compounded by systematic mistreatment of the victims) to the more distant (the Crusades).

I think I can agree that a thousand years ago, Xtianity wasn't the saintliest kid on the block either, but then again, that long ago, NOBODY was. However, that religious strain, as well as nearly all the others on the planet outside Islam, has grown considerably in their understandings of human rights. Islam, on the other hand, does not want to join the 21st century, but instead, insists on trying to drag us back to the 7th century where they still reside, and apparently are quite willing to kill us if we don't readily agree to join them.

Judeo-Xtian beliefs were behind many of the laws and philosophies upon which modern civilized countries were founded, including this one. Can you see Islamic doctrine leading to similar results? I don't think so.

Islam bases it's current "nutty" practices on its own bible, the Koran, and the life-style of its own founder. Can you imagine that imitating the life of Jesus would ever lead Xtians to those same practices?

As for the sexual abuse of children, that is only one strain of Xtianity, and in my opinion, that has been mischaracterized at the altar of political correctness, which I don't care to get into, since that will immediately lead to savage attacks from certain other commenters here.

By the way, I am a life-long atheist, but I have no axe to grind against the religions that leave me alone. I think that they are often unfairly attacked by atheists. I find it appalling and bizarre that the left in this country, heavily influenced by atheist and secular thought, seems to have found common ground with a religion that has openly stated its intent to either convert, kill or subjugate everyone else.

I guess BDS/PDS makes for powerfully strange bedfellows.
3.30.2009 12:42pm
Arturito:
People do nutty things under the cover of religion, but if this particular blanket is not available the nuts have plenty of others that work just as well: ideology, nationalism, racial pride, tribalism... Anything that convinces people that they are better for belonging to the "in" group can be used and is used every day.
3.30.2009 12:44pm
John Moore (www):

Before assigning Christians any higher ground from a moral perspective, it would be worthwhile to consider the record from the recent (facilitation and concealment of sexual abuse of children, compounded by systematic mistreatment of the victims) to the more distant (the Crusades).


Yes, it would be worthwhile to consider the record. Christianity has overcome many of its failings. Modern Christianity has vast enterprises providing help and charity to all - without requiring a religious conversion. I personally witnessed this as a disaster relief worker after the 1985 Mexican Earthquake, when the Southern Baptists sent many pre-prepared semi-trailers full of food and workers to help the poor in Mexico City.

The billion which you attack with the sexual abuse stuff, has purged itself and continues to do so.

Your attempt to discredit a 2000 year old religion with the actions of a relative few in the american Catholic Church reeks of bigotry. That some Bishops in the US hid this is a sign of their human failings and the nature of bureaucracy, not a fault of the religion.

The inconvenient truth about the sexual abuse episode is that 95% or so of the incidents were actually homosexual statutory rape, as they involved homosexual priests and post-pubescent males. The media, of course, doesn't want you to know about this aspect of it.

It doesn't absolve the US Bishops, but it does cast it in a different light. The church, believing that homosexuality un-acted upon is not a disqualification for priesthood (it still holds to that), and suffering a shortage of American seminarians, admitted large numbers of homosexual priests in the 70s and beyond. Hence some estimate 40% of American priests are homosexual in preference. Since priests are supposed to remain celibate, in theory this is not an issue. In practice, it created the problem, as an underground homosexual movement sprang up which justified non-celibate acts.

Furthermore, much of the "cover up" was a result of both the Christian belief and the psychological profession's (then) belief that these people could be redemmed. Hence they were sent to "rehab" and then sent out again, and sadly too often they re-offended.
3.30.2009 12:50pm
ArthurKirkland:
Religion has generated good (charity; entertainment and solace for the faithful; etc.) and bad (equally long list). Overall, trying to be charitable, I label it a wash. It is difficult to envision it being more than a wash until the religious demonstrate that they are at least a minute shade better than the non-religious in their conduct.

The Catholics do not get off so easily, alas. They abused the victims in court and from the pulpit. They knowingly sent dangerous criminals into circumstances offering new, unwitting victims. The motivation, I believe, was to preserve the church's wealth and power, and to avoid accountability for a systemic criminal enterprise, rather than any concern about psychological issues.

Bigotry? If the church were a corporate web of day care centers, entertainment and gambling venues, hospitals and counseling centers, and it turned out the day care center division had engaged in one-tenth of the criminal conduct that has been disclosed with respect to the Catholic Church, and that the corporate headquarters had engaged in one-tenth of the concealment and facilitation that has been disclosed with respect to the Catholic Church, would anyone be arguing about proportionality? The Catholic Church was permitted to skate, in large part, and some still blame the critics. As I said, religion and reason are difficult to emulsify.
3.30.2009 1:03pm
John Moore (www):

The Catholics do not get off so easily, alas. They abused the victims in court and from the pulpit.


A critical part of bigotry is overgeneralized stereotypes.

"The Catholics" did not do this. A few renegade Bishops did.



They knowingly sent dangerous criminals into circumstances offering new, unwitting victims.

See redemption/psychological cure above. This was an honest mistake in most (but not all cases). Since "they" refers to "The Catholics," again it smells of bigotry.


The motivation, I believe, was to preserve the church's wealth and power, and to avoid accountability for a systemic criminal enterprise, rather than any concern about psychological issues.

I believe this was true in a few cases. Maybe ten of the 40,000,000 Catholics in the US did that.

Your statement is equivalent to condemning Jews because of what Bernie Madoff did.
3.30.2009 2:00pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Islam bases it's current "nutty" practices on its own bible, the Koran, and the life-style of its own founder. Can you imagine that imitating the life of Jesus would ever lead Xtians to those same practices?
Well, if you believe in Christianity, you presumably believe Jesus appears in other parts of the book as well. And I certainly hope the Christians don't try to emulate that, since I am not a fan of rape, genocide, mass drownings, mass murder of babies, or torture, all of which Jesus variously causes, commands, or both.

Fortunately, these days most Christians are better than that, and simply ignore those bits. Goddess, help us if they ever start taking it seriously.
3.30.2009 2:01pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
By the way, I am a life-long atheist, but I have no axe to grind against the religions that leave me alone. I think that they are often unfairly attacked by atheists. I find it appalling and bizarre that the left in this country, heavily influenced by atheist and secular thought, seems to have found common ground with a religion that has openly stated its intent to either convert, kill or subjugate everyone else.
Who "openly speaks" on behalf of this religion? The Pope can speak on behalf of Catholicism, and the Patriarch can speak on behalf of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but there is no one entitled to speak on behalf of "Christianity" or "Hinduism" or "Islam." The various stripes of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims disagree vehemently with each other about pretty much everything, and will happily label each other heretics with little provocation.
3.30.2009 2:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Prof. Somin;

I think the bigger issue is that there is not a universal and objectively valid description of human rights that the peoples of the world can get behind. Consequently all human rights debates end up degenerating to "we are better than you."

I argue there is an appropriate framework that everyone should be able to get behind but it is a hard pill for human rights advocates to swallow. Basically it states there are two fundamental human rights and anything else is secondary and beyond universal declaration:

1) The right of each nationality to collective self-determination.
2) The right of everyone to equal protection under the law without regard to racial or ethnic heritage.

Every other human right is a social construction and is defined by the national group through the process of self-determination that they have an inherent right to.

I think we have to recognize at some point that the folks in Saudi Arabia have the right to an oppressive regime if they want it. They don't have a right to try to force us, in the US, to adopt their view. Similarly, while the Iranian people have a right to an Islamic Republic if they want it, they do NOT have a right to call for the murder of a British citizen outside their borders. Killing an Iranian for apostasy is not a violation of the most fundamental human rights, but trying to kill a British man for apostasy is a violation of international human rights.

Consequently, there is a two-way street. We shouldn't be compelled by Islamic countries to enact hate-speech laws, but we shouldn't be compelling such countries to abandon such laws either. At most (and I think this would be a positive step) we can mandate what American businesses can do overseas in these regards. However, we cannot and should not be defining human rights to include all sorts of socially constructed prejudices, which is usually what happens, and what is clearly the case in this UNHRC proposal.
3.30.2009 2:19pm
Friend of Loki (mail):
Well, as Loki was saying to me the other day, these Islamic folks defame my religion. Athena agreed, as did Thor, so I guess that a quorum under Valhalla Rules.

I moved that we ban Islam, and it passed by voice vote. So there.

And there's been some discussion among the gods here that if the UN doesn't get its act together and butt out of areas where it doesn't belong (which is just about everything past facilitating agreements on long distance dialing country codes), we may decide that the UN defames our religion.

Then its lightning and thunder time.
3.30.2009 2:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Well, as Loki was saying to me the other day, these Islamic folks defame my religion. Athena agreed, as did Thor, so I guess that a quorum under Valhalla Rules.


Athena was not entitled to vote, as a non-citizen of Asgard. I think she comes from somewhere called Olympus instead. Though I think you are just clueless and thought you saw her, but really saw Freya.....

Also Loki was expelled from Asgard and bound to a rock with the intestines of his son. He will only come back when Thorr is killed, so your story doesn't add up.
3.30.2009 2:31pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

How many other religionous organizations are behind the suppression of free speech embodied by this resolution, other than Islam? But if one is, the rest are equally "indicted", eh?

The suppression of speech that is "insulting" to religion is not a hobby restricted to Islam, alas. Just for example, I suggest you do some research on the reaction of several organized religions to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. You won't like what you find.

And with respect to AGW, I couldn't agree more completely. It's largely become a religion, and that's precisely what's wrong with it. I think you're making my point there -- and quite well, thanks.
3.30.2009 2:41pm
Ken Arromdee:
I think we have to recognize at some point that the folks in Saudi Arabia have the right to an oppressive regime if they want it. They don't have a right to try to force us, in the US, to adopt their view. Similarly, while the Iranian people have a right to an Islamic Republic if they want it, they do NOT have a right to call for the murder of a British citizen outside their borders.

What do the "folks in Saudi Arabia" and the "Iranian people" have to do with anything? Surely you're not suggesting that these countries are democracies.
3.30.2009 2:42pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Well, if you believe in Christianity, you presumably believe Jesus appears in other parts of the book as well. And I certainly hope the Christians don't try to emulate that, since I am not a fan of rape, genocide, mass drownings, mass murder of babies, or torture, all of which Jesus variously causes, commands, or both.

And there's no need to link Jesus to the Old Testament in order to present this problem to Christians.

Consider the odious doctrine of original sin; the unspeakably immoral scapegoating with respect to Jesus himself; and the idea of eternal damnation -- not mere death -- as punishment for lack of faith. All products of the New Testament, I believe.

If not, I'm sure somebody will correct me with cites to the Old Testament. Lord knows (pardon the expression) there are some goodies there.
3.30.2009 2:49pm
PlugInMonster:
I agree with the above poster - human rights do not exist. A right to be treated with dignity can't be granted, it can only be taken!
3.30.2009 2:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
PlugInMonster:

I agree with the above poster - human rights do not exist. A right to be treated with dignity can't be granted, it can only be taken!


I don't know if you were referring to my post. However I don't see a lot of the human rights debate as being much about dignity or about treating folks from other cultures with dignity. This sort of thing happens all the time. For example, some years ago, there was a conference on human rights that broke down in part because of people trying to suggest that a right to sexual experimentation was a human right.

The moment we start saying "You have to adopt our standards regarding human rights" we are already refusing to treat others with some level of dignity that they deserve. We have to start with the premise that people are ABLE to make decisions about what sort of society they want to live in and able to effect such a change.

We really need to start separating those perceptions of rights which are socially constructed from those which are socially necessary. Otherwise we can never get beyond the idea that "I have a right not to be criticized on account of my religion" as we have here. These are fundamentally different from, for example, the struggle of the Kurds in Turkey regarding their national identity, etc. We need to expect self-determination of these groups.

So I am not saying there are no human rights. I am in fact saying there are human rights, but these are different from what we currently recognize as such. The failure of the Israeli Government to provide the same sorts of land zoned construction around Arab and Druze communities as they do around Jewish communities would be an example of a human rights violation, as would the repression of the Kurds by Iranians, Turks, or Iraqis. Similarly, Khomeni calling for the murder of Salmon Rushdie would be a human rights violation. We can get to this point and possibly even get robust treaties to protect these rights without too much controversy. We don't need to argue that everything else we think is important should be included in that umbrella. Otherwise we get here, arguing whether sexual experimentation outside of social norms or protection from criticism are human rights.
3.30.2009 4:00pm
Kirk:
einhverfr,
1) The right of each nationality to collective self-determination.
Nonsense. I completely agree with the self-determination part of this formulation. But why should it be tied to that social construct "nationality"? (Other than as a purely pragmatic matter, that is.)

Really, your reasoning leads to some pretty ghastly conclusions, among them notably this:
Killing an Iranian for apostasy is not a violation of the most fundamental human rights
3.30.2009 4:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Kirk,

I suppose I should add nationality, ethnicity or other similar subgroup.



Really, your reasoning leads to some pretty ghastly conclusions, among them notably this:


Killing an Iranian for apostasy is not a violation of the most fundamental human rights




I stand by that conclusion, btw, provided that it is the Iranian government enforcing their law.

The alternative is to either subject ourselves to whatever the majority of countries in the world thinks are human rights or to simply conclude that we are sufficiently better than them to be morally right in trying to force everyone to adopt our Constitution, etc.

Where would you draw the line? Or do you simply think that might makes right and hence we should be imposing our views on all other countries in this matter?
3.30.2009 4:39pm
Ariel:
einhverfr,

Killing an Iranian for apostasy is not a violation of the most fundamental human rights...The failure of the Israeli Government to provide the same sorts of land zoned construction around Arab and Druze communities as they do around Jewish communities would be an example of a human rights violation

Human rights apparently do not include a right to be free of people murdering you for your beliefs, but do include a right to be free from Jews having discriminatory zoning laws. That's fascinating. It's also a great illustration of your point about relativism - that there are no universal rights, but only rights relative to the situation around one.

More importantly, it's also a great illustration of the perverse results of a relativistic philosophy. The idea of natural rights may be a Western imposition, but you don't see too many Indian wives complaining that they don't have to jump on the fires any more. While our knowledge of what is good and right may be imperfect, it certainly seems to me that I would rather live in the country with the discriminatory zoning laws than the one with the murder-for-apostasy laws - and I suspect this is a fairly objective, reasonable person standard.
3.30.2009 4:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ariel:

The big questions become where we have a right to start trying to build international pressure.

I remain undecided as to what level equal protection under the laws needs to apply to gender internationally. I think it would be a good idea to say so, but at the same time, women are not disempowered in the same sense that minority ethnic groups may be. After all, most of what children learn they learn from their mothers, and women were extremely involved in the rise of Khomeni.

However, let's look at the major ramifications here:

1) Cases where ethnic groups are discriminated against (including Jews), they are generally vulnerable to more serious problems including attempts at cultural or physical genocide.

2) Incidental discrimination is something I am far less worried about.

Yes there are some bizarre conclusions. For example, concern about discriminatory zoning becomes a bigger issue than administrative detention as regards our policies regarding Israel and Arab communities of Israeli citizens. However, at least they are limited to those which have a simple bright line around them. And so we don't get to argue whether freedom of speech as a human right includes a right to call for genocide as an abstract idea (it does in the US, but not in, say, the EU).
3.30.2009 5:18pm
trad and anon (mail):
I suppose I should add nationality, ethnicity or other similar subgroup.
You're going to have a hard time finding anyone else who agrees with you on this one. There are thousands of ethnic/national subgroups and nobody supports giving every single one of them their own state. In this country alone you'd need a state for every Indian tribe, more for the the Native Alaskan tribes, and one for the native Hawaiians.
3.30.2009 5:45pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Repressive authoritarian regimes and repressive democratic regimes - in fact all regimes - play a role in international human rights law. But that is what we are stuck with in a state system. Persistent objection to crystallization of antithetical customary international law (torture memos anyone?) is the way we protect ourselves. And insisting on human rights compliance inside of repressive regimes - since domestic law of one nation has consequences in another nation on only limited principles of jurisdiction (territoriality, passive personality, nationality, security) except for those based on - ta da! - international law (universal jurisdiction).

Best,
Ben
3.30.2009 5:48pm
Kirk:
einhverfr,

No, adding "ethnicity" would definitely not improve things. Jefferson had it right, way back when: it's "consent of the governed", without any specific reference to what kind of "group", or how large, you must "belong" to before your consent counts when measuring the legitimacy of the government.

And I simply conclude that our polity, with all its inevitable flaws, is better than Iran's. Whether it's moral, or practical, for us to attempt to change them is a separate question.
3.30.2009 5:55pm
Ariel:
einhverfr,

The big questions become where we have a right to start trying to build international pressure.

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at. My guess is that you're saying we should pressure those who respond to pressure. If so, this creates interesting incentives.

I remain undecided as to what level equal protection under the laws needs to apply to gender internationally. I think it would be a good idea to say so, but at the same time, women are not disempowered in the same sense that minority ethnic groups may be. After all, most of what children learn they learn from their mothers, and women were extremely involved in the rise of Khomeni.

Women quickly learned to regret that decision, and this is widely known. See, e.g., Persepolis or Journey from the Land of No.

Women's rights in Taliban-led Afghanistan were considerably worse than minority rights in, e.g., the US.

Again, I'm not really sure what your point with this is, but I'm pretty sure it's empirically wrong.

However, let's look at the major ramifications here:

1) Cases where ethnic groups are discriminated against (including Jews), they are generally vulnerable to more serious problems including attempts at cultural or physical genocide.

2) Incidental discrimination is something I am far less worried about.


I don't understand what you mean by your distinction of ethnic discrimination vs. incidental discrimination.

Yes there are some bizarre conclusions. For example, concern about discriminatory zoning becomes a bigger issue than administrative detention as regards our policies regarding Israel and Arab communities of Israeli citizens.

Nor do I see how you get here, apart from either relativism (my initial hypothesis) or applying pressure to those who might accept it (really a form of relativism combined with a cynical application of force to those most likely to crumble under it).

However, at least they are limited to those which have a simple bright line around them. And so we don't get to argue whether freedom of speech as a human right includes a right to call for genocide as an abstract idea (it does in the US, but not in, say, the EU).

What's wrong with such arguments?

Natural rights is a much better basis for rights than relativism. People may disagree with natural rights, or may think that the line drawing process is appropriate in different places. But to say that there are no natural human rights puts you in the perilous place where you are now - that people in some places should have more rights than people in others, which ends up looking like bigotry, disguised as sophistication.
3.30.2009 5:57pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Kirk:

No, adding "ethnicity" would definitely not improve things. Jefferson had it right, way back when: it's "consent of the governed", without any specific reference to what kind of "group", or how large, you must "belong" to before your consent counts when measuring the legitimacy of the government.

And I simply conclude that our polity, with all its inevitable flaws, is better than Iran's. Whether it's moral, or practical, for us to attempt to change them is a separate question.


So if we accept Jefferson's view, then we have to admit that if the Iranian people consent to be governed in the way they are, or the Saudi people consent to be governed in the way they are, then that is legitimate too, at least within that context, correct?

BTW, I agree that our system is much better. It is more of a conclusion as to where we draw the line at trying to mobilize serious international pressure. Khomeni calling for Rushdie's murder is one example that comes to mind where that is appropriate, for example.
3.30.2009 6:48pm
ArthurKirkland:
To John Moore:

Your arguments (it was only a few cases in which victims were abused in court or from the pulpit; there was no pattern to the courtroom tactics of lawyers defending the Catholic church; most of the reassignments were motivated by a desire to do good) conflict with my recollection and with common sense.

The Catholic Church is lucky it was not shut down, many of its leaders imprisoned, and its assets liquidated.

Your "it was only a few" analogy might work if the victims numbered in the tens and the conduct was isolated within the church; when the number of victims moves past the hundreds into the thousands, and the Church responds in a systemic manner, the 'isolated problem'/'generalizing is bigotry' arguments become pathetic.
3.30.2009 6:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Natural rights is a much better basis for rights than relativism. People may disagree with natural rights, or may think that the line drawing process is appropriate in different places. But to say that there are no natural human rights puts you in the perilous place where you are now - that people in some places should have more rights than people in others, which ends up looking like bigotry, disguised as sophistication.


Not at all. I am not saying anyone should have more or fewer rights, but that, barring foreign occupation, people themselves are responsible for determining their rights. What we consider to be our "rights" tend to be social constructions based on the rights I have articulated. Other cultures may define this differently.

I am not convinced that there are many natural rights other than a right to one's own social culture. For example, many traditional cultures in the world have systems that don't involve private property as such simply because such a concept doesn't fit in their way of life (this is typical with hunter-gatherer cultures). Does this mean that they are denying eachother private property as a natural right? Of course not.

Thinking is often very heavily conditioned by culture, language, and things we don't often think about like communication technologies. I true universal right must be as true for the hunter-gatherer in the Amazon as it is for the resident of New York. The only two I could think of (equal protection under laws, and collective self-determination) were mentioned there.
3.30.2009 6:59pm
John Moore (www):
To ArthurKirklan


Your "it was only a few" analogy might work if the victims numbered in the tens and the conduct was isolated within the church; when the number of victims moves past the hundreds into the thousands, and the Church responds in a systemic manner, the 'isolated problem'/'generalizing is bigotry' arguments become pathetic.


First of all, the "Church" didn't respond for a long time. Rather, individual Bishops responded in their own ways. Some of those ways were shameful. Is it so surprising that a large bureaucracy, especially one strongly influenced by the left (i.e. the American Catholic bishops) would have trouble dealing with such an issue?

Second, the number of abusers was a small percentage of the number of priests.

Third, the percentage of abuse was less than that by public school teachers. Shall we condemn the teaching profession?

Forth, radical homosexual activists have been doing their best to damage the Catholic church for several decades. They have a lot of influence, including in the media.

Naturally you can't imagine that most of these re-assignments were meant in good faith - it would conflict with your prejudices. Too bad you didn't look more closely at the issue, rather than getting your information from the Christianity hating main stream media.

Finally, it is still bigotry to blame a religion of a billion people for the actions of a small percentage of a country which has only 4% of the believers in it.

Bigotry is bigotry.
3.30.2009 7:02pm
ArthurKirkland:
I don't blame a billion people, just as I wouldn't advocate condemning every employee or shareholder or customer of a conglomerate whose day care center division abused hundreds of children, concealed the abuse, aggravated the abuse after the victims came forward, played hardball in court against victims, etc. But I believe that liquidating the assets and shutting down the enterprise would have been a likely consequence for any entity other than a huge church, and it is reasonable to ask why the church received preferential treatment.

And I doubt I, or just about any other reasonable person, would be out of the market for moral arguments from that entity for a substantial period.

Anyone who believes that most of the reassignments were made in good faith is basing that conclusion on something other than reason or evidence. Ascribing the natural inference from those circumstances to "prejudice" or "bigotry" strikes me as strange.
3.30.2009 8:59pm
Ricardo (mail):
First of all, the "Church" didn't respond for a long time. Rather, individual Bishops responded in their own ways. Some of those ways were shameful. Is it so surprising that a large bureaucracy, especially one strongly influenced by the left (i.e. the American Catholic bishops) would have trouble dealing with such an issue?

Cardinal Law spoke out against abortion on many occasions -- obviously he cannot have been that "influenced by the left" as you imagine. And then there is Marcial Maciel, head of the Legion of Christ and embezzler and pedophile (and now, it turns out, father of an illegitimate child). Accusations against him go back decades and were certainly brought to the attention of the Vatican at the highest levels -- supposedly left-wing American bishops have nothing to do with his case. Maciel was no marginal figure either:

"Called to accompany Pope John Paul II on his visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993, Maciel was also appointed by the Pope to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the formation of Candidates for the Priesthood in Actual Circumstances (1991). He has been a member of the Interdicasterial Commission for a Just Distribution of Clergy (1991), the IV General Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) (1992), the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life and Their Mission in the Church and the World (1993), the Synod of Bishops' Special Assembly for America (1997) and (since 1994) a permanent consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy. [Wikipedia]"

The Catholic church has shown itself to be very, very slow in policing its own ranks. If this isn't bad enough, consider how the Vatican treats powerful lay members of the Church: Robert Mugabe was invited for an official state visit at the Vatican after the U.S. and EU had imposed a travel ban on him because his regime is so odious. While this goes on, there is serious talk among some bishops of denying communion or ex-communicating abortion doctors or women who get abortions.
3.30.2009 10:23pm
John Moore (www):

But I believe that liquidating the assets and shutting down the enterprise would have been a likely consequence for any entity other than a huge church, and it is reasonable to ask why the church received preferential treatment.

First of all, the church is not a single enterprise. It is a whole bunch of enterprises - some of which have fallen onto very hard times. Second, what makes you think it got preferential treatment? It was sued and payed out tons of bucks.


The Catholic church has shown itself to be very, very slow in policing its own ranks. If this isn't bad enough, consider how the Vatican treats powerful lay members of the Church: Robert Mugabe was invited for an official state visit at the Vatican after the U.S. and EU had imposed a travel ban on him because his regime is so odious. While this goes on, there is serious talk among some bishops of denying communion or ex-communicating abortion doctors or women who get abortions.


From an American standpoint, Rome was too slow. From the standpoint of the rest of the world, the church had a lot of other issues it was engaged with. Furthermore, because of many complications in international affairs, the church will do all sorts of things you may not approve of. I don't know why they invited Mugabe, but the mere act of inviting him by itself says nothing other than the church is not the US or the EU.

Abortion doctors and women who get abortions, by long standing church laws, must not take communion without confessing their sins. If they don't consider them sins, they aren't Catholics, so it shouldn't bother them. That church doctrine is hundreds of years old.

The church doesn't answer to American political fashion. That's why its a church and not a social club.
3.30.2009 10:32pm
Ricardo (mail):
From an American standpoint, Rome was too slow. From the standpoint of the rest of the world, the church had a lot of other issues it was engaged with. Furthermore, because of many complications in international affairs, the church will do all sorts of things you may not approve of. I don't know why they invited Mugabe, but the mere act of inviting him by itself says nothing other than the church is not the US or the EU.

The church would have just loved to do something about serial child rapists in their midst but, you know, running a church is just so much work. Will you accept a similar defense if it turns out a public school district knew about abuse allegations against one of his teachers but was so burdened with other work that they never did anything about it?

It's also great to know that you think Vatican officials can break bread with a murderous tyrant and international gangster without having to explain themselves to anybody. Anyone who criticizes this state of affairs will no doubt be accused by certain elements of being a "bigot."
3.31.2009 2:36am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ricardo.
For Mugabe, substitute Arafat. Look at the folks who thought he was, if not a good guy, welcome in this country. Bread was broken.
For all you know, the Pope or his staff may have thought a bit of moral suasion could be useful and it were better done in person than by snail mail.
3.31.2009 10:06am
ArthurKirkland:
It's not a church . . . or a social club . . . it's a racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization. An organized criminal operation.

The comparative religions discussion arose when someone pulled the "our religion is better than theirs" card. Never a good move. Never.

And that aside about "answering to American political fashion" deserves a recounting:

Thousands of abused children. Thousands.

Hundreds of abusers. Hundreds.

Systemic, active concealment of sexual abuse. Disgusting.

Systemic, active facilitation of additional sexual abuse. Immoral to the core.

Systematic mistreatment of victims in court and from the pulpit. Cruel, disgusting and immoral.

Against that background, refraining from disbanding the church and liquidating the entirety of its assets constituted preferential treatment.

Anyone who scolds others for "disapproving" the church's conduct, or who attempts to excuse or minimize it, has every screw loose.
3.31.2009 12:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Arthur just broke our fancy new law.

Probably projecting the reasonable fear of Islam. But he couldn't afford to go public with that. Might be indicted. Might be beheaded.
Yup. Rome's an easier target.
Nice to get a preview of the process.
Thanks, Arthur.
3.31.2009 2:06pm
faargenwelsh (mail):
Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, usually considered the most important international human rights treaty, includes repression-justifying provisions inserted at the behest of Joseph Stalin and his communist allies.


i don't think this declaration can be called a treaty, at least technically. it's just a resolution of the general assembly of the UN, and as such has no more biding effect that the resolution on "defamation of religion".

furthermore, it is a self-contradictory document, for it stresses in its preamble the recognition of "inalienable rights", which, according to the same preamble, are but "a common standard of achievement".

given this, i do not think you can not even call it "the most important international human document". while the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which is a treaty) based on that convention and which have a binding effect over signatory countries) probably is :)

"...many experts claim that such resolutions should be considered in determining what counts as "customary international law."


well, this is more easy to claim that to prove :)

first, i don't really see how the human rights fall into the scope of the international law. humanitarian law clearly does, but human rights are altogether different concept.

considering the classical definition of the international law as "a body of rules which regulate the relations between sovereign states", legal issues of purely internal nature (and religious defamation is certainly of a purely internal, not interstate nature, just as contracts, torts, mariages, mergers, civil partnerships are), are probably to be kept away from the international law.

second, i've often heard the opinion that resolutions of the general assembly of the UN may be a valuable (but non-automatic) indication as to the contents of some international custom, because the general assembly represents all the states of our planet (more or less).

but this is quite different from the UN human rights council, for it only lists some of them (47 out of 192, to be precise). of course, one may argue that 47 is an important number, but then, even the resolutions of the general assembly are not regarded as an expression of international customs per se, so in case of the resolutions of the human rights council this can be a really difficult thing to prove.

---

and yes, i disapprove the resolution on defamation of religion.
3.31.2009 2:17pm
ArthurKirkland:
Rome became a target when someone started to beat his chest with the ever-silly 'my religion is better than yours,' a claim readily disproven regardless of which religion is on either side of the equation. (If Rome were an easy target, the Catholic Church would have been punished far more severaly -- and appropriately -- for its criminal conduct.)

The proposed law is asinine, regardless of whether the target or the speaker is Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other flavor of religion.

Religion's flaws (and virtues) appear to be associated with every religion.
3.31.2009 2:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Arthur.
Muslims don't go in for chest-beating?
3.31.2009 3:09pm
Yankev (mail):
Einfe -

You failed to mention that the Israeli government also decreed that certain areas must be free of Jews, and that Jews who lawfully bought land in Gaza, Hebron and other areas must not be allowed to live there. In the case of Gaza, families who lawfully lived there for decades were forcibly uprooted, their good stored under conditions amounting to virtual confiscation and destruction, and the promised compensation for homes and businesses has yet to be paid. (None was promised for the goods, as none were supposed to have been destroyed.) And these include the families who cooperated with the expulsion from Gaza.

Is this also a violation of rights, or is your disapproval reserved for zoning that inconveniences Arabs?
3.31.2009 3:37pm
geokstr:

ArthurKirkland:

Religion's flaws (and virtues) appear to be associated with every religion.

Let's see...all religions must believe the following then, right?

- women can't vote, go to school, be seen in public without a male relative, their testimony in court only counts as 1/2 that of a man, have to have 5 male witnesses to prove rape, may be beaten by their husbands
- males can kill their spouses and daughters for doing anything whatsoever that the male feels goes against his "honor", including having been forcibly raped, or being seen in the company of an infidel, or for refusing to wear the prescribed tent-like uniform
- males can divorce their wives by saying "I divorce thee" three times, even in a text message; women have no such rights against the husband
- homosexuals should be killed
- apostates should be killed
- infidels who don't submit or convert should be killed, to the extent of outright genocide in lands controlled by the religion
- infidels can be forced to convert, including underage girls kidnapped from their families, who can then be forced to marry their kidnappers
- marriage to first cousins is encouraged and very common
- arranged marriages to girls as young as nine are acceptable, especially since the prophet himself did it too
- in order to further the spread of the religion, adherents are commanded to lie to infidels about everything
- if slighted in any way, say, with cartoons, it is acceptable to kill, riot, loot, burn and pillage anything that belongs to any infidels anywhere in the world, even if they had nothing to do with the provocation
- males may have up to 5 wives, and if living in the land of the infidels, suck off the welfare teat for all of them
- it is acceptable to commit credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, and engage in drug trafficking to support your causes, as long as you are only harming infidels
- children should be taught to hate infidels, especially Jews, from birth, and motivated with heavenly rewards to blow themselves up and take as many infidels with them as possible
- it's acceptable to confiscate all the property of any infidel living in areas controlled by the religion
- and etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum

And these are not things that happened many centuries in the past, they are common occurences today almost everywhere in the world where adherents to Islam reside. Most of those even happen in the United States, except for the killing of homosexuals and apostates (so far).

This is moral relativism run amok, combined with multiculti PC overdosed on steroids. If you really believe that Catholicism or other strains of Xtianity are comparably evil to this madness, you are living in an alternate universe.

Regardless of the sins of the other 99.9% of the world's major religions a thousand years ago, and certain current sins totally mischaracterized by the left to hide the complicity of one of their own favored victim groups, as an atheist, I'll take any religion over Islam, including satanism.

And hey, let's forget that Judeo-Christian philosophy is the foundation for this and many other advanced civilized nations, while Islamic precepts are the foundations for stone age countries with 7th century economies. Even at the height of their power, they prospered by taking over the successes of the people they conquered, not because of their wonderful religion.
3.31.2009 6:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:

Personally I think that Jews who wished to stay in Gaza should have had full rights to do so, and in fact, perhaps, all settlers in Gaza should have been made de facto "Palestinian Jews" rather than forcibly removed. That is what I would expect to happen when land changes hands between two state parties: residents of that land change citizenship if they want to stay.
3.31.2009 8:10pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Regardless of the sins of the other 99.9% of the world's major religions a thousand years ago, and certain current sins totally mischaracterized by the left to hide the complicity of one of their own favored victim groups, as an atheist, I'll take any religion over Islam, including satanism.


I have a good friend who is a member of the Church of Satan. She is one of the most compassionate people I know.

BTW, I agree that I would also take any religion in the world over Islam, though I think you are even more harsh on that matter than the religion deserves. This being said, Islam has serious structural problems which don't occur with any other religion in the world, and these are exacerbated by doctrinal conflicts inside Islam.
3.31.2009 8:14pm
geokstr:

einhverfr:

...I think you are even more harsh on that matter than the religion deserves. This being said, Islam has serious structural problems which don't occur with any other religion in the world, and these are exacerbated by doctrinal conflicts inside Islam.

Structural problems?

The list of sickening beliefs and actions I mentioned were just off the top of my head, based only on what happens on a regular basis throughout Islam. And they are all justified by the Koran and associated writings, and preached in mosques throughout the world.

The dhimminization of Europe continues apace, as the policians there cravenly bow to an increasingly violent and rapidly growing Muslim population.

Do you follow any blogs that document the ongoing daily perversions perpetrated by the adherents of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage? Here is a good one:
Jihad Watch

The clash of modern civilization vs Islam is already the defining conflict of our time. Tens of millions may die. Once Iran gets nukes, the game is on. The only thing the mullahs respect is power, and we are busy handing it to them.

If I wasn't an atheist, I'd be praying for my country. We have become so pussified by liberal lunacy in the last several decades that we will still be arguing over whether denying mass murderers extra helpings of halal food is "torture" or not while they are storming the walls.
3.31.2009 9:34pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Geokstr:

Beliefs by one faction of Islam does not incriminate the whole of Islam. You can't hold all Muslims responsible for the behavior of, say, the Saudis any more than you can hold, say, Lutherans responsible for the Catholic sex abuse scandle (after all they are all Christians, right?) so....

My concerns over Islam as a whole tend to be structural rather than doctrinal in nature. The major concerns have to do with the structure and function of the religion, and the relationship between legal and religious authorities. Islam presents unique problems here because the religion is fundamentally premised on the idea that religion should be the foundation of a state (and hence very close to the ideas of folks like Pat Robertson in this regard). The result then is that all law should be religious law, and so forth. IMO, this results in too much centralized power and hence results in all manner of social injustices.

The second major problem is the lack of jurisdictional boundaries. When Khomeini can call on can call for the murder of Salmon Rushdie and this is defended by the Muslim world because of the view that Islam has GLOBAL JURISDICTION then there is something fundamentally wrong here too.

However, these two issues go to the heart of the Islamic world view. They are almost universally accepted as core Islamic teachings, so I dont have to resort to fringe sects' views in order to build a case as to why I feel that there are legitimate concerns here.
4.1.2009 12:07am
trad and anon (mail):
And hey, let's forget that Judeo-Christian philosophy is the foundation for this and many other advanced civilized nations, while Islamic precepts are the foundations for stone age countries with 7th century economies. Even at the height of their power, they prospered by taking over the successes of the people they conquered, not because of their wonderful religion.
And at the height of their power the Christians prospered because of their wonderful religion? I thought it had to do more with technological superiority, a special degree of eagerness to commit genocide, and the Americans' lack of immunity to their infectious diseases.

As for this nonsense about "Judeo-Christian" principles being the foundation for our civilization, which principles would those be?

Love your neighbor as yourself? Nope.
Turn the other cheek? Nope.
Correct your wrongdoing before criticizing your neighbor's? Nope.
Kill all infidels? Not for the past hundred years or so.

Of course, you won't find me arguing that the high period of Islamic civilization had anything to do with Islam being a particularly wonderful religion.
4.1.2009 1:46am
John Moore (www):

And at the height of their power the Christians prospered because of their wonderful religion?

Tes, it was one of the causes (the JudeoChristian background, and the invention and multi-century support of universities by the Catholic Church).


I thought it had to do more with technological superiority, a special degree of eagerness to commit genocide, and the Americans' lack of immunity to their infectious diseases.

And that technological superiority came about how?

Furthermore, the Native Americans never had a chance, because their societies were too primitive, they had little technology, and there weren't very many of them, largely because they kept killing each other off.
4.1.2009 2:09am
John Moore (www):
@Arthur Kirkland

It's not a church . . . or a social club . . . it's a racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization. An organized criminal operation.

The comparative religions discussion arose when someone pulled the "our religion is better than theirs" card. Never a good move. Never.



I tire of your vile bigotry. Or is it trollery?

This started when someone claimed that religions were the cause of the world's problems - religions in general. Exceptions were pointed out, and the anti-Catholic bigotry then appeared - taking a short term (20 years out of 2000) failing of a small part of a worldwide church and turning it into the justification for a secular pogrom.

And yes, in todays world, Christianity is doing much more good and much less evil than Islam, so yeah, our religion is better than theirs. Stick it in your mucticultural relativistic craw.



Against that background, refraining from disbanding the church and liquidating the entirety of its assets constituted preferential treatment.

You seem to remain ignorant, in spite of my informing you, of the fact that the church is not one entity.

Neither have you bothered to explain WHO provided that mysterious preferential treatment.


Anyone who scolds others for "disapproving" the church's conduct, or who attempts to excuse or minimize it, has every screw loose.


And those who magnify it's human failings all out of proportion are unabashed bigots.
4.1.2009 2:14am
Yankev (mail):

That is what I would expect to happen when land changes hands between two state parties: residents of that land change citizenship if they want to stay.
And yet the Palestinians demand that their future state must be free of Jews, period. And the US pretends there is no such demand, while the UN and the EU blast Israel for supposed ethnic cleansing.

John Moore,

it was one of the causes (the JudeoChristian background, and the invention and multi-century support of universities by the Catholic Church).
I seem to remember being the reformation and the protestant (specifically Calvinist) ethic had something to do with it. Who was that Max Weber fellow?
4.1.2009 9:18am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Yankev:


And yet the Palestinians demand that their future state must be free of Jews, period. And the US pretends there is no such demand, while the UN and the EU blast Israel for supposed ethnic cleansing.


BTW, I completely agree with those statements of yours. However, I also think that one of the big dynamics in the conflict which must be addressed is that fear of expulsion which hangs over everyone's head in the region (including Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews). There are good reasons why everyone in the conflict is afraid of ethnic cleansing and we need to start with concrete steps to diffuse that fear.

This fear also involves questions of loss of holy sites or access to them, whether the Al Aqsa mosque or the Temple Wall.

Personally I think that the first resolution which must be adopted and thus far hasn't even been proposed, is a recognition that each state must respect the rights of all her citizens, whether Jew or Arab, and this must be binding on both the Palestinian state(s) and Israel.

I also think that the old PA really does need to go and that it is going to take an international occupation to accomplish this. I also wonder if splitting Gaza and the West Bank into separate states might meet everyone's needs better since each of these would have territorial contiguity.
4.1.2009 1:26pm
John Moore (www):
That's why I said "one of the causes."

The Catholic Church created and maintained universities throughout the dark ages - universities with substantial academic freedom and a focus on science. The dark ages were not dark in those universities, contrary to modern myth. They were a place of intellectual ferment and true scientific research.

The invention of the printing press, which enabled the Protestant Reformation, was one of the most important steps in a chain of scientific and technological progress dating back thousands of years.

The impact of the "protestant ethic" is much over-rated. More important was the general intellectual entrepreneurialism let loose by technological progress in transportation and printing - and fueled originally by the works from those universities and the more ancient works they preserved.

Galileo, after all, was the founder of the Vatican Academy of Sciences.

Max Weber was very much a late comer to all of this.

----

One might ask: why would the Church foster science? That answer is a theological conviction that to honor God, one must endeavor to understand his creations - the laws of the Universe - in all of its detail and manifestations.
4.1.2009 1:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

The Catholic Church created and maintained universities throughout the dark ages - universities with substantial academic freedom and a focus on science. The dark ages were not dark in those universities, contrary to modern myth. They were a place of intellectual ferment and true scientific research.


It is actually interesting to see the works which were preserved at these learning establishments. I am not sure I would call them "universities" but they certainly had an important part to play.

Look up the Lacnunga and the Leechbook of Bald. Also the Medicine of Quadrupeds.... Much of the material is closer to folk magic than science.

However, the main reason why these establishments were in place had to do with political power and the fact that the church maintained a monopoly on writing, so you had to have somewhere for people of letters to congregate and study. This mostly had to do with size of political units, etc.

Of course at that point Islam was pushing widespread literacy and Islamic culture was scientifically far more advanced than one found in Europe. So there was a reversal that occurred too. My own opinion is that a lot of this had to do with the struggles relating to free exercise of religion in Europe after the Black Death.
4.2.2009 12:30am
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Somin:
The UN Human Rights Council resolution also exemplifies a crucial procedural weakness of international human rights law: the extensive role of repressive authoritarian states in determining its content. Most of the nations that voted for the Human Rights Council resolution are oppressive dictatorships, whereas most liberal democracies opposed it.
IIRC, more authoritarian states are also stronger opponents of torture than others; presumably on the theory that their ability to control access and message prevents them from being held accountable for their own acts (or alternatively, that any failures to "practise what they preach" is potentially less damaging to their rule, being less accountable to the public). They get a freebie by "opposing" torture. Yes, this is a problem, but not so much with regard to the UN organisations, but rather WRT the existence and persistence of authoritarian regimes.

Cheers,
4.2.2009 1:46pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.