Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Freedom of Speech or Your Freedom of Speech

There was a Israeli diplomat, Michael Oren, speaking at UC Irivine about Israeli relations. During his speech, 10 Muslim men stood up and spoke; their comments were individual and included “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech”. Their interruptions were choreographed, and speeches preplanned. This event went to court. In Orange County a judge found them guilty of disruption and sentenced them to 56 hours of community service and 3 years of informal probation. The judge said that this situation did not require jail time and the probation could be reduced if executed within the year.

The issue at hand is both free exercise and freedom of speech. Was it right for the judge to convict these individuals for exercising their right to express their religious views? Was this conviction a direct infringement on a person’s right to free speech? For me, this case is more about free speech. Was what they did, rude? Absolutely. But, I do not think that it was unconstitutional. Of course, these Muslims did block Oren’s chance to speak freely. But what they did does not justify a court ruling, let alone finding them guilty. Technically, the court is judging whose free speech trumps whose.

Some have offered their opinions on the matter. An Islamic Shura Council of Southern California commented that this ruling is evidence that islamaphobia is present in Orange County. He argued that this is going to cause a “slippery slope” as a reason for justifying the suppression of freedom of speech and further phobia in the country. I agree with him. This court ruling has likely set the standard. I wonder how the court would have judged if it was an Islamic extremists speaking and Christians stood up and spoke their beliefs. I don’t know if it would have been the same ruling. It is important to keep in mind that this event is occurring post-9/11. Circumstance has much to do with this event.

One aspect of the incident that I wish that I had more information on is what exactly were these individuals saying. If they were making comments that pushed people to think that they were going to harm others or themselves in the near future, they I might argue that this ruling is justified. But, if they were making comments that simply went against the views of Oren and were strictly political, then it’s a different story.

In conclusion, I think that more information needs to be researched as to the specific comments. But, to me, it does seem like the court did actively suppress these Muslims freedom of speech.


Elena T said...

I too would like to know more about what was specifically said by the Muslim men, because it does matter what they said for us to have an opinion on their sentencing. However, it does seem to me, as we do live in a post 9/11 world, that this is a case of Islamaphobia. From what was said, I do not think they were in an violation, and were merely practicing their freedom of speech.

Harry R. said...

While I understand Kanderson and Elena's points, I disagree about whose freedom of speech was violated. In a speech given to the public, the speaker has been invited to talk and has the right to speak as he or she wishes. The audience members are not allowed to interrupt the speaker whenever they desire. Interruptions of this nature do not fall under freedom of speech; they are rude interruptions which would be better discussed at a different time. During a Q and A session or after the speech would be appropriate, but they were wrong to interrupt as they did.

Annie M said...

I agree with Harry. The freedom of speech also applies to the speaker. Since this was a pre-planned disruption of peace, there is a feel that they were trying to be blatantly obnoxious. It does matter what they specifically said, but from the sense I got from they deserve the sentencing. Also, realistically, they will not have to serve the entirety of the sentence, like in most cases.

Sir William Grimmer said...

I am also a Christian and it would be a twist of scripture to say this is what revelations is talking about. I don't know anything about said photos for state ID and I do know they become part of a larger Database but a work around would be a passport which allows for you to take your own photo.

I am interested in how this case turned out any updates?