by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).
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(Blog No. 3xx).
#First Amendment, #right to free speech, #free exercise of religion,
The right to free speech and free exercise of religion in the USA is protected in the First Amendment to its constitution (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution). As the Constitution is written in English words, it is possible to surreptitiously change the meanings of English words to change the American Constitution! Similar situations apply to other countries.
1. The changing boundaries of the protection of free speech and the right to free exercise of religions.
The right to free speech does not apply to hate speech (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech) which is defined to be any speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of protected attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The right to free exercise of religion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Exercise_Clause) also has its boundary
This view of the Free Exercise Clause would begin to narrow again in the 1980s, culminating in the 1990 case of Employment Division v. Smith. Examining a state prohibition on the use of peyote, the Supreme Court upheld the law despite the drug’s use as part of a religious ritual, and without employing the strict scrutiny test. Instead, the Court again held that a “neutral law of general applicability” generally does not implicate the Free Exercise Clause. This was followed by intense disapproval from Congress and the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993 to attempt to restore the prior test. However, in City of Boerne v. Flores, the Supreme Court struck down the act as applied to the States, holding that it unconstitutionally attempted to usurp the Supreme Court’s role in interpreting the Constitution, thus leaving the Smith test in place.
This brings up the interesting problems of
1. what constitutes a “religion”
2. and of whether a “religious preaching” can be a hate speech and consequently be banned?
2. The proliferation of catch all phrases in identity politics.
On top of the collision between the right to free speech and the free exercise of religion there are also deliberate attempts by political factions to label their opponents with catch all phrases in order to make the speeches of the latter classified as hate speeches and make them illegal on internet media.
Discussions on the preaching (of some branch) of Islam can be easily labeled with the catch all phrase “anti-Islamic” (with the current meaning of “vilifying all Islam followers”) or “anti-migrants” (with the current meaning of “vilifying all immigrants”).
Discussions on the national laws of Israel can be easily labeled with the catch all phrase “anti-Semitic” (with the current meaning of “vilifying all Jews” instead of “anti-<the Semitic people including Arabs>). Why has not any Arab been labeled anti-Semitic ? Why only non-Arab been labeled anti-Semitic ?
On the other hand, hate speeches can be disguised as religious belief and become protected under “free exercise of religion”. This brings up a hard question of what is a religion as mentioned in the First Amendment?
The whole American political system is now in a mess and it is no more a model for harmonious societies. The problem has been caused by deliberate modifications of words out of their established constructs and meanings.
To rectify the problem, USA should
a/- authoritatively define and rectify its language and issue “government issued dictionaries for the USA”,
b/- have an additional new Amendment to Define Words and Prohibit Against Unauthorized Modifying the Meaning of Established Words to define words and prohibit against modifying the meaning of so defined words,
c/- and should impose heavy fines on people distorting the construct of its authoritatively defined words and distorting the meaning of such words. Private publishers of dictionaries should strictly comply with this requirement.
The proposal looks authoritarian but it is indeed necessary to avoid the fracturing of USA.
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