The European Court of Human Rights just ruled that a woman who was convicted in a Vienna court and fined for disparaging a religion — Islam — after she called out Mohammed as a pedophile did not, as she argued, have her free speech rights infringed.
She lost her last appeal and now must pay a fine of 480 euros, which is about $547.
Americans, take note. Lessons can be learned here. Warnings should be heeded.
There are many in the United States who want to mold this country into the shape of Europe — who want America to shed its sovereign system of capitalistic and constitutional principles and step full-steam-ahead into a more globalist type of governance.
But America is special — exceptional, really. Here, unlike in Europe, freedom is a God-given, not government granted. Moving toward the latter, shifting toward an EU-like system that squishes the individual for the good of the collective, means giving up cherished freedoms — freedoms like the right to speak and express oneself without fear of prosecution.
The case in point: A woman known only as Mrs. S., age 47, from Vienna, reportedly taught a couple seminars a few years ago, during which she spoke of the Prophet Mohammad’s chosen bride, 6-year-old Aisha, and their marriage consummation when the girl was just age 9.
Mrs. S., according to court documents cited by the Daily Mail, said to those attending her seminar that Mohammed “liked to do it with children.”
She also reportedly asked, “A 56-year-old and a 6-year old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”
The Vienna Regional Criminal Court convicted Mrs. S. in early 2011 for disparaging a religious belief and ordered her to pay a fine and legal fees. Mrs. S. appealed, claiming the conviction violated her rights to freedom of expression. But the Vienna Court of Appeals and Austria’s Supreme Court subsequently threw out her case, leaving her no choice but to petition the ECHR.
The ECHR ruled against her just this week.
“The Court found in particular that the domestic courts comprehensively assessed the wider context of the applicant’s statements and carefully balanced her right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria,” the ECHR stated.
The fact that Mrs. S.’s use of the word pedophilia to describe the sexual acts of a grown man with a little girl is an accurate one didn’t play into the courts’ decisions — it was all about the preservation of peace and protection of feelings.
“Muslim apologists defend Muhammad wth the claim that such marriages were common at the time and that Islam requires marriage to be between consenting adults, implying the wife could have gone through puberty early,” the Daily Caller wrote.
OK. But the larger point is this: Mrs. S. expressed herself in a manner that some may find objectionable but others, factual. Here in America, God, backed by the Constitution, recognizes this type of expression, known as opinion, as a core individual freedom.
The ECHR’s own code of justice, on the other hand, does not. Rather, it gives government the right to decide which has priority — an individual’s freedom to speak or the feelings of others.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression,” the ECHR’s convention states.
Except when they don’t.
“The exercise of these freedoms,” the convention goes on to say, “since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject so such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
That’s some list of exemptions.
And this is the type of governance the elites in U.S. politics, the left, the Democrats-slash-progessives-slash-socialists — the globalists in both parties — want America to ultimately adopt? The Bernie Sanders’ and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes and Elizabeth Warrens and Eric Holders of the world, to name but a few? The scores of U.S. millennials who apparently see socialism as superior to capitalism and limited government?
It’s all about God-given versus government granted. This is the ideal that separates America from every other nation on earth, the one Founding Fathers etched as a must-have in the country’s guiding Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Mrs. S. and her court fights underscore the lessons America can learn and the warnings Americans can take from forgetting to fight for this very basic, very crucial principle and guiding government light. It’s the God-given we need to protect, at whatever the price, no matter the cost.
There must never be a Mrs. S. in America’s courts.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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