Mohammed, Corpus Christi, "hate speech", and harassment law
volokh at MAIL.LAW.UCLA.EDU
Thu Aug 23 16:42:43 PDT 2001
I'm not familiar with the details of the incident that Jeff Jacoby
writes about, and I'd welcome any clarification from those on the list who
know more about it. Still, I've found him quite reliable in the past, so
I'll assume for now the description is accurate. Three questions:
(1) Would those who support restrictions in the U.S. on "hate speech",
and who point to the fact that most other Western democracies don't share
U.S. views on this subject, also support the punishment of the speech
described below (putting up leaflets caricaturing Mohammed as a pig)?
(2) Could the law meaningfully distinguish -- not just in theory, but
in practice, as applied by real judges and juries in the U.S. today --
between these caricatures and Corpus Christi, criminalizing the former but
not the latter? (Let me set aside for now the question whether the special
circumstances of Israel, with the high tensions and risk of religious and
ethnic violence, justify punishment of the leaflet or would support such a
(3) Can and should displaying such a leaflet on the outside of one's
office door in a workplace or a university be properly punished as
"workplace / educational religious harassment" (especially if several people
post such leaflets)? What about a leaflet promoting Corpus Christi?
From: JJacoby [mailto:jeffjacoby at earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:02 AM
Subject: A diet of vitriol / 8-23-2001
THE MUFTI'S MESSAGE OF HATE
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
August 23, 2001
In the summer of 1997, a young Israeli art student named Tatiana Susskin
drew a caricature portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a pig and tacked up
copies of it on Arab storefronts in Hebron. She could hardly have devised a
more inflammatory insult. The crude leaflets provoked riots and calls for
vengeance, not only in Hebron but in much of the Muslim world.
Far from defending Susskin, leading Israelis rushed to condemn her.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned the Arab mayor of Hebron "to
express not only my personal revulsion, but the revulsion of the entire
people of Israel ... against this frontal attack on one of the world's great
religions." There was an apology as well from President Ezer Weizman, and
one of the country's two chief rabbis went to Hebron to apologize in person
to the city's senior Muslim cleric.
Susskin, meanwhile, was arrested by Israeli authorities and put on
trial. She was convicted in Jerusalem District Court of (among other
charges) committing a racist act, attempted vandalism, and attempting to
give religious offense. Judge Zvi Segal sentenced her to two years in
prison, calling her deed a "revolting, degenerate act which offended the
feelings of Moslems in Israel and the entire world." Her appeal to the
Israeli Supreme Court was rejected and she spent 16 months behind bars
before being released on parole.
For Americans used to the protection of the Bill of Rights, so ferocious
a reaction to some juvenile graffiti is unthinkable. But while Israel is
not bound by the First Amendment, it *is* bound by the terms of its accords
with the Palestinian Authority. Article XXII of the 1995 Oslo 2 agreement,
for example, obliges the parties to "abstain from incitement, including
hostile propaganda, against each other" and to "take legal measures to
prevent such incitement by any organizations, groups, or individuals within
their jurisdiction." . . .
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