Dutch legal authorities tried repeatedly, if unsuccessfully, to prosecute Mr. If you denounce a belief as absurd, you are implicitly criticizing the believers as credulous fools.
Freedom of political speech, however, was regarded as sacrosanct by all.
As legal restraints on obscenity fell away, however, freedom of political speech began to come under attack from a different kind of censor—college administrators, ethnic-grievance groups, gay and feminist advocates.
Yale University Press especially distinguished itself by publishing a major study of the controversy in 2009—without the actual drawings. and the European Union have entered into a dialogue in recent years with the 56 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is seeking an international law prohibiting blasphemy.
Governments began to treat those threatened for their opinions almost as harshly as those attacking them. In 2006, Tony Blair’s government passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Act—a kind of “blasphemy lite” law—ostensibly designed to protect all religions against threatening expression but generally understood as intended to limit hostile criticism of Islam. In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the OIC that, while the First Amendment prevented the U. from prohibiting speech, the administration might still “use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming so that people don’t feel they have the support to do what we abhor.” Admittedly, it is difficult to draw a clear line between criticism of an Islamic belief and an attack on Muslims who believe it.
Surely such things can’t happen in the land of the First Amendment? In recent years, their attacks on free expression in the U. have generally been prompted by a philistine discomfort with provocative art, from the “Sensation” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 to the more recent flap over “The Death of Klinghoffer” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.