Should insulting/shaming religious figures or icons be seen as a hate crime?
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America (IICNA), suggests shaming or insulting religious figures as seen with “Innocence of Muslims” should be considered a hate crime. Calls for national dialoge.
The Islamic Circle of North America today condemned the violence, tactics and reactions to the anti-islamic film, “Innocence of Muslims”. He notes that most American muslims do not support the actions made by their religious brethren in the middle east.
“And they also sympathize with the family of Americans, the ambassador and other servicemen who were slain there.”
He notes that there is a tiny group of extremists and bigots in America, and asks whether or not the freedom of expression should be limited. He asks to start a national dialogue regarding the legal validity of publishing and spreading such films, and to review such films to consider them as hate crimes.
“For the policy makers we would like to raise that issue, that insulting any religious icon, either personality or scripture or books, it should become a hate speech action… a hate incident action”
Reading further into hate crimes in the US, the federal government does currently recognize and reserves the right to prosecute those who commit crimes based on characteristics of religion. This brings up a valid point that perhaps should be discussed and we can ask whether or not it should be protected.
|Image from the film “Innocence of Muslims”|
I will add now however, that much like the KKK rallying and publishing hateful music against African-Americans or Jews, people in this country do currently enjoy such freedoms. The filmmaker did not commit a crime that would be considered a hate crime in the US, as images and words that offend someone do not currently constitute any chargeable crime unless you are being harassed. In this case, the filmmaker creating and publicizing the film is not directed at any individual and these individuals can choose to plainly ignore it. It is when acts result from such films or insults of religious figures we can consider them as hate crimes.
So the issue is now whether or not it should be included as a hate crime. I think that the above paragraph is telling to the reason why it is not currently included in hate crime laws in the US. Making it such severely cuts into our first amendment rights, and may lead down a path most wouldn’t like to go. Lets try to find an example:
I personally don’t like seeing the PETA videos spread around calling us (meat-eaters) evil/ignorant/etc., and I can imagine some videos I choose not to see are pretty hateful. That being said, they are trying to send out a message that competes with that of the mainstream. Perhaps going further into the future we may find out that the best way to live life is to eat a salad and let the cows wander (okay this might be a stretch).
While this is certainly not an ideal example, the point I am trying to convey is: the first amendment has progressed our society into the one it is today, fighting the mainstream with your ideas like darwinism. We should not so easily try to limit this right, even if it is at the expense of offending some people. Instead, people need to learn to respectfully disagree, and spread their superior message. And the best response to “Innocence of Muslims” is for all of us to come out with our superior message, and spread the truth. This is the way to keep inferior and bigoted messages mute.
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Author’s twitter: DanielSethMcKay