Monday, September 17, 2012

Freedom of Speech vs. Religion - 3 Case Studies

Here are 3 interesting cases of freedom of speech vs. religious persecution.

Case 1:  Trailer for Anti-Muslim Film on YouTube

The official response
U.S. Embassy in Cairo (tweets):

"We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others"
"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy" [link]

The reaction of those being persecuted
Offended Muslims riot and burn buildings (U.S. Embassies, businesses, etc).  In the process, a U.S. Ambassador and 3 other U.S. Citizens were murdered.  This happened in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen. [link]

Reaction to the persecutor
The Filmmaker was brought in for questioning at the sheriff's station by federal probation officers  to see if he could possibly be sent to prison on unrelated charges.[link]

Case 2: Main Street Church to pass out Anti-Mormon literature outside the new LDS Temple in Brigham City during a public open house

The official response 
Brigham City requires a permit based on a city ordinance passed in 2010.  The church was granted a permit that restricted the number of people to four per day and further restricted their activities to the least trafficked north and south sides of the buildings.

The reaction of those being persecuted 
No rioting

Reaction to the persecutor
Main Street Church is represented by the ACLU, suing Brigham City for the right to persecute people attending the Temple open house.  They win the case and can now send as many people to surround the Temple as they want.


Case 3: "Book of Mormon" Broadway musical, disrespectful, obscene satire of Mormon religion

The official response
No official response.  Public and media: applause, laughter, praise

The reaction of those being persecuted

"The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ." [link]
Also, the LDS Church purchases advertising space in Playbill with photos of smiling Mormons saying "You've seen the play...Now read the book" and "The book is always better" [link]

Reaction to the persecutor

Tony Award, Grammy Award [link]


Though freedom of speech and freedom of religion can be at odds, I think that attacks on a religion should be done in a venue away from religious worship.  For example, a theater or YouTube are valid forums to express critical viewpoints of a religion.  Taking the criticism to the place of worship of those being offended is not acceptable.  For example, expressing anti-Muslim views at a Mosque, or anti-Semitic views at a Synagogue, or anti-Catholic views at a Cathedral or anti-Mormon views at a Temple.  Even worse would be to express those views at a sacred time such as Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah,  Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Easter, Christmas or in Case 2, the opening of a new Temple.

Case 1: Free Speech as violent as the response was, should be allowed.
Case 2: Free Speech should be restricted as to not impinge on the free exercise of religion.  And criticizing another religion is not religion, it's speech.
Case 3: Free Speech, though offensive to some, should be allowed.

I can choose not to watch a video on YouTube and I can choose not to go to a musical.  On the other hand, if I choose to go to the place of worship for my choice of religion, I should not have to face the bigotry disguised as free speech as it distracts from my purpose for worshiping: to find a place of peace in a world filled with turmoil.

Update 9/18/2012
I thought this was a nice image of a PRO-American rally.

Update 9/29/2012

I'm not the only one who sees the hypocrisy

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