Gov’t. Censorship of Offensive Speech Doesn’t Work, Expert Says

If there’s one thing the past three weeks have revealed, it’s the difference in which the United States and countries across the world handle free speech and more specifically religious speech.

The anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” produced in the United States by a Coptic Christian set off a chain reaction of protests across the Muslim world and many nations’ leaders called for the arrest of the filmmaker. In the United States, leaders condemned the video for its attack on one of the major world religions but said that nothing could be done to punish the filmmaker, who was under the protection of the First Amendment.

The film and the subsequent call for his arrest have prompted many of those nations to begin discussing anti-blasphemy laws.

Coincidentally, this discussion began just in time for Sunday’s Blasphemy Rights Day, an annual day “to promote the rights to freedom of belief and expression and stand up in a show of solidarity for the liberty to challenge reigning religious beliefs without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal,” according to its Facebook page.

To discuss the debated blasphemy laws, free religious speech and more, host Jamila Bey spoke with Dr. Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center.

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