Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Islam and free speech

As usual lately, this will be a fairly brief post. I just heard a news story about a student at Pace University who apparently threw a copy of the Quran in the toilet...twice. I assume it wasn't the same copy, but who knows. Anyway, he's being charged with a hate crime and CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) is supporting these charges.

Why? Look, I love and respect books of any kind, and it bothers me when people do anything to destroy, harm, or desecrate them. (I suppose this is at least in part due to growing up with a mother who owned a bookstore.) I don't care what book it is--I hate to see them destroyed. I'm not arguing that what this student did was disrespectful and possibly intolerant...but he didn't harm anyone (to the best of my knowledge), he simply treated a holy book in a way that is offensive to the religion. I don't condone his actions, but is that really a hate crime or just disrespect and intolerance?

I view it as free speech, just as much as burning an American flag is free speech. Like it or not, the bill of rights protects freedom of speech--ALL speech, not just the speech that you might like or agree with. Look, I believe that it is the right of a white supremacist group to shout their message from the rooftops. That is NOT to say their message doesn't make me angry, disgusted, sad, and confused. Their message is terrible, it is based on blind, irrational hatred, and it is something I don't think I can ever understand....but it is their inalienable right to express their views, regardless of my (or anyone's) personal opinion of them.

I think the same goes for the student who desecrated the Quran. I disagree with his actions, I don't believe in deliberately taking actions that deeply offend any religion, and I think it speaks of disrespect and intolerance for Islam. Regardless, it is his inalienable right to express his views...how can an act protected by the Bill of Rights that harms no one be considered a hate crime?

What do you think?

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1 comment:

angelsdepart said...

A hate crime? Of course not! It only shows the inferiority of religion that its followers must punish a dissenter so seriously.