And the same day Sinead O’Connor converted to Islam. It kind of undermines the European narrative that they’re more enlightened than us knuckle dragging MAGAs. I mean, Sinead was always bat-s**t crazy (I have video from 1988 of her appealing to MTV 120 Minutes viewers to send money to the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua), but the European court going full-on Fatwa? What’s next? Banning women from driving? Making men grow beards? Halal Big Macs in Paris?
The best write up I’ve found so far is on Tech Dirt. The anonymous writer concludes, “the idea that (1) that should be balanced against how upset it might make people and (2) that the balance should weigh against her, seems crazy and outright offensive to freedom of expression.”
Multiple lower courts found that such comments could not be permitted, and it finally went up to the European Court of Human Rights, where much of the discussion centered around what the court believed was a clash, of sorts, between freedom to express opinions and freedom to manifest religion. And, the court comes down in this with an argument that would be laughed out of any US court, in that it sets up a “balancing” test. As Ken White has explained multiple times, the Supreme Court in the US doesn’t recognize any “balancing” test when it comes to free speech. In US v. Stevens, the Supreme Court explicitly rejected any sort of balancing test:
The Government’s proposed test would broadly balance the value of the speech against its societal costs to determine whether the First Amendment even applies. But the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs.
S/he points out that the balancing act between speech and hurt feelings – yes the EU’s Court explicitly bans speech thereby “protecting religious feelings.” I tell you, we’ve come a long way from “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” because in the EU at least, words can get you arrested and fined 500 euros.
I’m really not surprised. Europeans don’t get religion. I visit Europe fairly frequently and with each visit I see a culture that claims to be irreligious slowly being devoured by it. 2000 years ago when most of Europe was under Roman domination people were free to worship whomever (or whatever) they wished. But since the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313 AD the continent became ground zero for one religious war after another, a state of affairs that continued well into the 20th century. Today Europeans believe they’ve moved beyond that, that religion isn’t important to them and therefore not really important compared to other burning issues like global warming or Trump’s latest tweets. They fail to recognize that not everyone thinks like them and that the vast majority of their own history belies deep religious zealotry, making their few decades of atheist tolerance an aberration that will soon be fixed by the continent’s Islamization or reversion to traditional European religion like we are seeing with the rising of the European far right. The EU’s recent state of anti-religious behavior is an anomaly. The continent will revert to its mean and when it does the only question will be the nature of the dominant religion: Islam or Christianity? Although I’m not a betting man if I were European I’d know whose suras to start studying.
One commenter in Tech Dirt’s article writes, “It’s quite simple, isn’t it? You’re free to talk what you want, but you’re not free to be an asshole (about religion or anything else). That’s something Americans can’t comprehend for some reason.” And the reason we don’t get it is because America is a nation of assholes and I am a proud one myself. The commenter doesn’t understand something that we Americans instinctively do: At heart everyone is an asshole at one time or another which is why governments should not be in the business of deciding who is one and who isn’t. It’s self interest. Even though I’m a decent, law-abiding bloke 99% of the time, chances are I will inadvertently be an asshole to someone at one time or another. Being an asshole should not be a crime, but the EU Court’s ruling does just that. Worse its ruling simply makes the court an extension of a Sharia court until some “asshole” Muslim is accused of hurting the religious feelings of some Jews.
Yeah, I won’t hold my breath for that one.
Photo by Monado
Photo by Newtown grafitti