I used to think that it is important to devise ‘perfect’ legal system where there is no loophole available to be exploited by ‘law experts’ who act for the sake of money or their personal political ideology. By designing such system, crime will be gone or significantly reduced.
However, there are so many factors which contribute to consideration whether an action constitutes good or evil action. We can cite many factors, most commonly include consequence, motivation, authority and natural law. Hence, in practical, it is impossible to devise such perfect legal system because an action can be crime in one situation but the same action is perfectly normal in another situation.
So, what’s this about? In this post, I want to discuss free speech protection law which is commonly perceived as positive in Western world and its relation to 3rd and 5th commandment of Torah. We knew 3rd commandment restricts us to use God’s name in vain, which include false oath and blasphemy. 5th commandment also told us to respect our parents and Old Testament actually instituted death penalty for cursing parents (Leviticus 20: 9). Hence if we want to be consistent with Torah, there cannot be such thing as complete freedom of speech.
However, as I read in the Wikipedia, even for free speech law in United States, there are many exceptional speech which are unprotected. Among those exceptions are incitement of violence, child pornography, intellectual property, false advertising, and so on. Additionally, there is one very important missing thing on this exception list which causes many troubles in this Internet era: Blasphemy.
Since there are exceptions for both laws, we can conclude that there is no such thing as complete free speech both in secular and religious civil laws. However, the debate is usually related to what things should be included as exceptions to free speech.
We can see that a lot of abuse for freedom of speech mostly from atheists and non-religious people in Western country because blasphemy or desecration of religious symbol is not included in exception of free speech. The reason is that because it is insulting someone whose existence cannot be proven and hence it is victimless crime.
But this assertion is actually ridiculous, because freedom of speech is derived from United States’ Declaration of Independence and it presumed the existence of Creator. Hence by affirming freedom of speech, you are indirectly affirming that God is exist.
Furthermore, actually there is a double standard by saying blasphemy is victimless crime. If they say they believe in free speech, then why do they call police when fundamentalists exercised their free speech right by sending them death threat either by emails, phone calls, or letters? Death threat is also victimless crime, right? You are not dead yet. The crime is yet to occur.
Another reason I heard is because religious believers can have choice whether or not to be angry because of blasphemy done. Furthermore, death threat is potential crime and hence it deserves special attention to be excluded from free speech. However, with the same reason, I can say that atheists can choose whether or not to be afraid because of death threat done.
Besides, it is quite naive to say that death threat is potential crime whereas blasphemy is not. If what they say is right that most religious believers are dangerous because of violent tendency when it is dealing with their God, then most probably blasphemy is potential cause of crime. So, one is potential crime whereas another is potential cause of crime. How does it different? I don’t see any good reason why one is included under free speech whereas another is not.
In my opinion, because of a lot of life on stake because Muslim fundamentalists around the world and also because of unnecessary and useless nature of desecration of religious symbol, it is better for United States to add blasphemy into free speech exception. Blasphemy produces nothing but hatred and anger. Believers will not be persuaded to leave their religion and unbelievers also in constant danger because of death threat from fundamentalists. And fundamentalists will never care about free speech thing. They will still chase blasphemer even if he will go to prison after that.
It does not mean that I ever want to establish theocracy, though. Theocracy only works for country in which all people have the same religion. It will never be established in modern days since there are no such country with 100% Christian (except probably Vatican). But even for non-theocracy, some limit to free speech to prevent loss of life and to enforce act of decency is needed.