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A number of people on this site have, in recent months, expressed glowing approval of European "hate speech" legislation and have vehemently denied that it will be misused to shut down legitimate debate. Some have suggested that European-style laws controlling speech would be more civilized than our current First Amendment rights. I and many others believe that we Americans need to zealously guard our freedom of speech, because it takes no time at all before legitimate commentary on social and political issues is labeled offensive and hateful. Here's the latest in a long line of legal assaults on free speech in Europe: an Iranian woman, from a Muslim background, has been convicted of a racist crime for criticizing Islam and saying that Muslim men use Islamic ideology to justify abuse of women.  

The Danish-Iranian woman was given a 5,000 Kroner fine; if she refuses to pay, she'll have to spend 5 nights in jail. She says she's going to take the jail time as a matter of principle.

Firoozeh Bazrafkan was charged with racism after writing in a blog entry, published in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in December 2011, that she was "very convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters".

She added: "This is, according to my understanding as a Danish-Iranian, the result of a defective and inhumane culture – if you can even call it a culture at all. But you can say, I think, that it is a defective and inhumane religion whose textbook, the Koran, is more immoral, deplorable and crazy than manuals of the two other global religions combined."

If anyone thinks that her latter statement was highly offensive and perhaps the state was right to crack down on her, I have to say that I'm quite sure I've read just as strong condemnations of the Catholic Church on this site. I wonder how many people here would like for it to be illegal , with a threat of jail time, to call Catholicism a crazy cult that subjugates women and promotes pedophilia. I'm a practicing Catholic, and I would defend any American's right to say all that and worse, if they so choose. Otherwise, it takes no time at all for powerful institutions -- and both the Catholic Church and a number of international Islamic organizations are powerful institutions -- to cry "Hate speech!" every time someone attempts to point out their corruption or flaws. Freedom of speech has to include the freedom to be offensive, including freedom to criticize a belief system and to observe that that belief system can give rise to abhorrent behavior. Ideologies don't need to be protected from criticism -- in fact, they shouldn't be.

Originally posted to Noisy Democrat on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 08:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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