That is, not only public officials but also media are ignoring this story about the erosion of freedom of speech in the West. And that goes for America's talk radio and cable kings, some of whom are headquartered in New York City. From Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Mark Levin: Even as these men, among other broadcasters, alternately bristle and rail at the likelihood that they themselves may be targeted by First Amendment-flouting "hate-speech" controls in our brave, new Obama world, they fail not only to uphold Wilders' right to free speech, they fail to notice the threat to it.
All of which is why your statement, Mr. Mayor, in front of your Dutch visitors about the slippery slope of speech restrictions -- "Before you know it, you can no longer say what you want" -- sounded like a declaration of independence from the Sharia-serving speech codes that the West increasingly adopts to regulate expression and debate.
And that includes New York. As you may know, over at the United Nations in December, the United States (and the Netherlands, for that matter) voted against a resolution introduced on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to promote a Sharia-serving speech code. Then again, you may not know. There were no news stories in the local press -- Times, Post or Daily News. Is this more evidence of the pattern of Western silence on Sharia-serving speech codes generally? Hard to say.
Anyway, the resolution, which prohibits the "defamation" of religion, passed 86 to 53 with 42 abstentions. A dangerous gag on speech even in ecumenical theory, the resolution mentions only Islam, and the "defamation" it describes includes any linkage between Islam and terrorism.
It was left to the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations to point out that the resolution objects to efforts "pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed ... at incitement to religious hatred," but omits any mention, for example, of what he called "the toxic religious incitement and indoctrination of Palestinian children, and the brutal persecution of Christians in Gaza," adding: "Where is the rejection of the Hamas Covenant which states: `No war takes place anywhere in the world without the Jews behind the scenes having a hand in it. ... Whenever they fan the flames of war, Allah will extinguish them.'"
Such rejection is nowhere. It is not "defamation of religion" the U.N. resolution prohibits, it is defamation -- read: criticism -- of Islam. As such, the resolution is an instrument of Sharia. But hardly anyone takes note.
Certainly, the General Assembly of the United Nations doesn't represent New York City. Still, I would like to draw your attention to a recent incident that took place last month as you dined inside the Marriott Marquis hotel on Broadway, a guest at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee dinner.
You may know from a brief New York Post account that 10 "pro-Gaza" demonstrators were arrested for chaining themselves to the hotel. What you probably don't know is that a New York Post photographer was prevented from taking pictures of the demonstration by "pro-Gaza" protestors. Mr. Mayor, you should watch the video (by the blogger VigilantSquirrelBrigade) of the photographer being harassed and, at one point, bashed over the head with placards by the demonstrators. (To find the video, Google: "Pro Gaza Rally Assaults Photographer.") Worse, you should watch the photographer's treatment at the hands of apathetic, unresponsive New York City police who ignored his plight. In failing to act, in looking the other way (literally), the NYPD not only ceded control of Broadway to the mob, it also failed, miserably, to protect freedom of speech in New York.
A small thing? Clearly, this is a blip next to the Dutch case against Wilders' freedom of speech, or the U.N. vote against freedom of speech. But it is highly significant nonetheless, and something you, as mayor, should know about so you can ensure freedom is better protected on your streets. A little intimidation here, a little restriction there, and there's your slippery slope. All of which is to say, Mr. Mayor, it's one thing to declare that the slippery slope exists; it's another to figure out what to do when we are already on one.