Video: DoJ Civil Rights Division chief can’t commit to protecting free speech; Update: Perez clarified later

posted at 11:21 am on September 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Via Eliana Johnson and Michael Totten, the question that Rep. Trent Franks asked Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in July shouldn’t be very difficult to answer — especially for the man who heads up the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and who swore to uphold the Constitution when taking that job.  Yet Franks has to ask the question four different times, and Perez refuses to provide a direct answer.  The question is this: “Will you tell us here today, simply, that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?”

If you read the First Amendment, the answer is simple.  Perez, however, does a two-minute dodge while Franks asks it four times:

Why is that relevant today?  Oh, no particular reason:

As recently as December 19, 2011, the U.S. voted for and was instrumental in passing “U.N. Resolution 16/18” against “religious intolerance,” “condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion.” While this may sound innocuous, it was the latest incarnation of a highly controversial “anti-blasphemy” resolution that has been pushed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the United Nations since 1999.

The real aim of the “anti- blasphemy” resolution is not to protect religion but to clamp down on freedom of expression. Accordingly, “defamation of religion,” by the definition of the 56-member OIC, could include things such as satirizing Mohammed in a newspaper cartoon or a YouTube video, criticism of Sharia law, or security check profiling. A report by the New York–based Human Rights First listed more than 50 cases in 15 countries “where the enforcement of blasphemy laws have resulted in death sentences and long prison terms as well as arbitrary detentions, and have sparked assaults, murders, and mob attacks.”

The U.N. “anti-blasphemy” resolution has been put to the vote by the OIC in the Human Rights Councils every year since 1999 and in the General Assembly every year since 2005. It has passed every year, but it receives a dwindling number of votes. Most Western democracies have voted against, seeing it correctly as a threat to free speech.

Last December, the Obama Administration, during three days of closed negotiations at Foggy Bottom, brokered a compromise for the implementation that allowed the controversial measure to pass the U.N. General Assembly unanimously. The only country to voice concern was Poland, whose representative wondered—rightly—why the only example of interfaith dialogue mentioned in the resolution was located in Saudi Arabia.

When Egypt’s President Morsi threatened to sue the makers of the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims and demanded that the US prosecute them, this was the pretext for demanding legal action.  It’s the reason why Franks asked Perez to categorically state that the DoJ would never seek to criminalize criticism of religion, and why Perez refused to do so.  As Heritage notes, the initial response from the Cairo embassy to the protests calling the YouTube clip an “abuse” of free speech goes right along with this administration’s pussyfooting on First Amendment rights in this regard.

There are tough questions that might take multiple parsings to fully answer.  This isn’t one of them.  The DoJ under the Constitution has no leeway on this issue, and the correct answer is, “Of course the DoJ won’t allow speech critical of religion to be criminalized.”  When the man running the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ can’t bring himself to give that answer the first time it’s asked, we should all be very, very concerned.

Update: Michael Totten noted in a separate post that Perez finally did say that that the DoJ wouldn’t criminalize speech criticizing religion, after Rep. Jerry Nadler nudged him further:

I erred, however, when I wrote that Perez “refuse[d] to say that his department won’t attempt to criminalize blasphemy in the future.” He did refuse to say that in the video, but unbeknownst to me at the time he clarified his position and said the right thing later in the same hearing.

Here’s a link to that clip.

The relevant portion begins at 49:24. Below is a transcript:

Representative Jerry Nadler: I assume the department would make a commitment that you’re not going to offer a proposal to criminalize protected speech, to criminalize criticism of religion or of anybody else, other than in the context of a direct threat.

Perez: Right. We will do this work, as we always have, in a way that is consistent with the Constitution.

Nadler: Which means you cannot criminalize, uh…

Perez: Hate speech.

Nadler: Hate speech.

Perez: Correct.

Franks was quite right that he didn’t ask a hard question. Criticism of a religion (or anything else) is a very different thing from a death threat or an incitement to murder and violence. I don’t know why Perez struggled with it. The simple and correct answer to Franks’ question is “no.”

Perez did later clarify his position, however, so I’m sorry that I wrote about this at all. I wouldn’t have had I known what Perez said later. But I’m happy to correct the record. And this is one of those cases where I’d rather be wrong than right anyway.

I’m less than impressed with Perez’ belated recognition of First Amendment and free speech issues than Michael is, but I’m including his thoughts on this to be as fair as I can on the reversal.  The fact that it took almost the whole hearing for the man whose supposed to protect civil rights to decide whether criminalizing critical speech falls outside the bounds of the Constitution is almost as bad as the first video suggests.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Do you Remember a time when “Liberal” meant support of Liberty?

Chip on September 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Holder’s DoJ being bound to the Constitution and the rule of law??

You’ve got to be kidding.

coldwarrior on September 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM

It’s connect-the-dots time as Obama and Clinton go into the movie reviewing business.

Drained Brain on September 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Yet Franks has to ask the question four different times, and Perez refuses to provide a direct answer.

That is a direct answer. If you can’t commit to freedom of speech, then you are against freedom of speech.

rbj on September 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Tom Perez is a Marxist a-hole.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

And any criticism of Chicago Jesus is here after illegal as well as blasphemous.

trubble on September 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

speaking of the DOJ:

Emails show Justice working with Media Matters on stories that target critics
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/18/emails-show-justice-working-with-media-matters-to-target-critics/

Newly published emails show the top spokeswoman at the U.S. Justice Department regularly collaborating with the liberal advocacy group Media Matters on stories that slam the administration’s critics.

The emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and published by The Daily Caller, often show department public affairs chief Tracy Schmaler communicating with Media Matters bloggers. Sometimes, the emails were in response to inquiries. Other times, Schmaler was pitching ideas, according to the Caller.

Galt2009 on September 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

It’s obvious…For Democrats the UN trumps US Constitutional Sovereignty…

Great video & thanks for posting it.

workingclass artist on September 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

So Obama and company would love to back the UN resolution banning insults to Islam, and they would love to enforce that here. No doubt it would be cloaked in “safety and Security”. But they will turn a blind eye to anti-Christian statements, art and music and “Death to the Jews” will be A-ok too.

clnurnberg on September 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

The people that make up this entire administration are contrary to what people expect out of normal Americans.

If you start looking at them in the light of Marxism and Socialism though, everything starts to line up and they’re doing EXACTLY what they should be.

Meople on September 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

December 19, 2011, the U.S. voted for and was instrumental in passing “U.N. Resolution 16/18” against “religious intolerance,” “condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion.”

the Obama Administration, during three days of closed negotiations at Foggy Bottom, brokered a compromise for the implementation that allowed the controversial measure to pass the U.N. General Assembly unanimously.

What? I don’t remember anyone talking about this.

What?

faraway on September 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

So Christian missionaries wouldl be able to operate freely in the middle east? /

Ellis on September 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

I would love to see the Supreme Court’s take on such a law. Assuming of course that it is not stacked with Obama appointees. Romney must win.

change is for suckers on September 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Mark Levin played this on his show last night. Truly frightening.

TarheelBen on September 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

A good campaign manager would seize on this and the other first amendment attacks coming from this administration and hang it around the opponents neck but of course we will just set back and tell everybody what a nice guy he is.

Big Orange on September 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Our government has now become a direct enemy of its people.

Bitter Clinger on September 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Seriously, I’ll say it again: these people are conducting a full assault on the First Amendment. Look at this stupid video nonsense, Perez’ non-answer here, the hysteria surrounding the Citizens United decision, the contraception mandate, “net neutrality,” and the total takeover of the national TV netweosk and major dailies by the Administration.

Free press? Nah.

Free speech? Not if it offends Muslims or leads to campaign ads we don’t like.

Free expression of religion? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Freedom of assembly? Ask the Tea Party. Sure you can assemble, but we’ll use our state-run media to smear you and call you disgusting names.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

drip…….drip…….drip….drip….drip..drip..drip.drip spew!

That my friends, in our Constitution going down the drain.

HoustonRight on September 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

So Christian missionaries wouldl be able to operate freely in the middle east? /

Ellis on September 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Christian missionaries won’t be able to operate freely inside the US

workingclass artist on September 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I would love to see the Supreme Court’s take on such a law. Assuming of course that it is not stacked with Obama appointees. Romney must win.

change is for suckers on September 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM

John Roberts would find it to be a tax and give the ol’ thumbs up.

Bitter Clinger on September 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM

As noted in the post, official U.S. policy has favored “taking action against anything meeting the description of negative racial and religious stereotyping’ since 2009. The U.S. co-sponsored the resolution with Egypt, so there should be little wonder that Egypt now calls on the U.S. to enforce it in its law courts.

Upon adopting the resolution on October 1, 2009, ranking U.S. diplomat to the U.N., Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Griffiths said:

“The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

Including denying U.S. citizens their First Amendment rights.

de rigueur on September 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Prosecuting Hate Speech = Prosecuting Blasphemy = Shredding the 1st Amendment

PackerBronco on September 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Seriously, I’ll say it again: these people are conducting a full assault on the First Amendment. Look at this stupid video nonsense, Perez’ non-answer here, the hysteria surrounding the Citizens United decision, the contraception mandate, “net neutrality,” and the total takeover of the national TV netweosk and major dailies by the Administration.

Free press? Nah.

Free speech? Not if it offends Muslims or leads to campaign ads we don’t like.

Free expression of religion? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Freedom of assembly? Ask the Tea Party. Sure you can assemble, but we’ll use our state-run media to smear you and call you disgusting names.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Indeed.

Bitter Clinger on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

What? I don’t remember anyone talking about this.

What?

faraway on September 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

You mean that transparency promise?

a capella on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

I would love to see the Supreme Court’s take on such a law. Assuming of course that it is not stacked with Obama appointees. Romney must win.

change is for suckers on September 18, 2012 at 11:29 AM

They won’t be so brazen as to pass a law, especially not as long as Scalia and Roberts are on the Court. It will be more subtle, in the form of public browbeatings, use of the state-run media to attack speech that the regime doesn’t like, and capitulation at the UN.

And once they’re done with the First Amendment, you know they’re going after the Second.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

What about freedom of the press? Should we review that one as well?

d1carter on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

When Islam stops calling for the death sentence for those that leave their religion, I would have a thought about these blasphemy.
What greater insult to a religion would be a death sentence for your belief.

Jabberwock on September 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM

DoJ Civil Rights Division chief can’t commit to protecting free speech

except…”for… my people”!

KOOLAID2 on September 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM

“1st Amendment? What’s that?”

WannabeAnglican on September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Last December, the Obama Administration, during three days of closed negotiations at Foggy Bottom, brokered a compromise for the implementation that allowed the controversial measure to pass the U.N. General Assembly unanimously. The only country to voice concern was Poland, whose representative wondered—rightly—why the only example of interfaith dialogue mentioned in the resolution was located in Saudi Arabia.

This needs to posted over and over again until people realize just what it means.

Deanna on September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

The DoJ under the Constitution the Obama Administration has no leeway must remain flexible on this issue

Of course, Obama supersedes the Constitution, a quaint historical document drawn up by rich white men for the purpose of exploiting and suppressing minorities.

hawkeye54 on September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

I LOVE this!

Protection of free speech…. the approval of the ACLU to determine IF it is HATE Speech OR if it can be used to incite violence under Sharia Law, which is a combination of Islam, a religion and it’s own not separate laws… anyone ever hear of the separation of church and state…the democrats and liberals batter us with that club daily when it comes to abortion, gay rights and freedom of expression through art and screen. Interesting, this dude just will not commit.

World Court and not U.S. constitutional law not such a conspiracy theory anymore.

ActinUpinTexas on September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

some leftists are dead wrong on this. shame on them.

nathor on September 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Oh, and they are also going after our Constitutionally guaranteed right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This weekend I talked with a lobbyist friend of mine who has been in DC for 30 years. He said he has NEVER seen anything like this crowd; they ignore requests for meetings with regulated companies, they throw letters signed by 100 members of Congress in the trash, they defy subpoenas, they file lawsuits backed by no legal authority, they issue demand letters to industry with no statutory authority and refuse to entertain any appeals.

They are strangling us and laughing while they are doing it.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Oh our current DOJ believes in free speech, when they want to lie to the public.

Emails reveal Justice Dept. regularly enlists Media Matters to spin press

Speakup on September 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM

What about freedom of the press? Should we review that one as well?

d1carter on September 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Our press has voluntarily surrendered its freedom to serve its Messiah.

rockmom on September 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Do you Remember a time when “Liberal” meant support of Liberty?

Chip on September 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM

The proggies took over the democratic party decades ago. The Republican Party actually has a platform that’s more small-l liberal than that of the democratic party.

slickwillie2001 on September 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM

I am rereading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich…I recommend it to all who want to follow along with the current administration.

d1carter on September 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Last December, the Obama Administration, during three days of closed negotiations at Foggy Bottom, brokered a compromise for the implementation that allowed the controversial measure to pass the U.N. General Assembly unanimously.

What I wouldn’t give to see that whole compound sink to the bottom of the East River.

Bitter Clinger on September 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM

The DOJ will commit to protecting free speech at that point in time when it commits to prosecuting Black Panther pissants, who wield pipes at polling places.

So … the really easy answer was, “no.”

OhEssYouCowboys on September 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM

People, we HAVE GOT to get rid of bho and his entire team in Nov., period! Please vote R&R, do not stay home, do not vote 3rd!

Just think of the he!! bho will plow up, if not re-elected, till he is out in Jan. 2013? It will not be good for our Republic one bit!
L

letget on September 18, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Where are the people standing up for free speech, a cornerstone of our democracy?

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2012 at 11:46 AM

When someone gives and answer like this, his next appointment should be with the unemployment office…

PatriotRider on September 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

So Christian missionaries wouldl be able to operate freely in the middle east? /

Ellis on September 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Sure. Try Benghazi, great place to spread the Word.
The. Word.

spiritof61 on September 18, 2012 at 11:49 AM

But BO is so likeable. Who cares about this? What is wrong with the people in this country? When did they lose their minds?

yhxqqsn on September 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM

This is right up there with, do you love your wife, do you care for your wife, do you think she’s pretty. I mean, really. “Well, I, uh … uh … I, uh …”. This country is built on freedom of speech. And you swore to uphold, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution! Aren’t you proud of it, and how it forms the basis for the country, and is the social contract between all of us?

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Slowly but surely quietly insipidly slithering its way into our govt is the UN.

The fact that bho brokered a compromise for the implementation that allowed the controversial measure to pass the U.N. General Assembly unanimously.

Is the death nell tolling for American Free Speech Rights!

The UN is like Shari’a law, ever creeping towards its ultimate goal.

Total world domination, who is worst? The UN or Islam?

Scrumpy on September 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM

The people in DOJ are the main reason that Obama must be replaced as soon as possible.

besser tot als rot on September 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Remember Dear Leader is a citizen/leader of the world. Mere United States laws cannot contain him. Sound familiar?

d1carter on September 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM

“The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”

-T. Jefferson

Be careful what you wish for, demorats, power has a way of metastasizing.

Bishop on September 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Perez is fine with his boss aiding and abetting the murder of hundreds of Mexican citizens, permanently silencing their voices, so this is no surprise.

Christien on September 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM

If we had a president with even a modicum of respect for American constitutional values Perez would be fired on the spot.

We have an enemy occupied DOJ.

Chessplayer on September 18, 2012 at 12:01 PM

The Republican Party actually has a platform that’s more small-l liberal than that of the democratic party.

The dems platform parallels that of the CPUSA almost entirely. That’s how far left leadership has moved it, which more than explains the displeasure of half of the delegates at its convention booing the reinsertion of God in the party platform.

hawkeye54 on September 18, 2012 at 12:01 PM

I would’ve cut his mic, just to show him what an ass he is.

Christien on September 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Freedom of the Press? Surely you jest says Mr. Perez of King Putt’s DOJ.
Freedom of the Press is just that. You or anyone can operate a “free press” … as long as it’s only leaves or dried fruit your pressing.
As to what you communicate with your ‘free press’ … that depends.
If it offends President Double Downgrade’s (Muslim) sensibilities then look out … here comes the DOJ to grind you and your organization(s) into powder.

Just think, if Obowmao is elected for a second term, just think of the MESS he’ll inherit!

Missilengr on September 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM

America wake up and throw these Moscow loving rascals out!

Herb on September 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Sharia is “also a part of that universal law which governs the active universe, including the physical and biological aspects of man.”…It includes political, social and economic affairs and their principles with the intent that they reflect complete submission to God alone….It deals with morals, manners, values and standards of society.

Sayyid Qutb
Founder of Muslim Brotherhood

Islam is “ordained for the whole of mankind.” It is the “last message for humanity. We must return to the clear spring, the source that is the Koran and the Hadith, unsullied by Roman, Greek, Persian concepts such as democracy.”

Sayyid Qutb

For the people, and there are many, that believe the above quotes free speech is not only not sacred, it is an evil that must be suppressed. Apparently our Justice Department is ready to be a willing accomplice to that suppression.

SoonerMarine on September 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Uh – obama must go!

Pork-Chop on September 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

First they came for the rich,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t rich.

Then they came for the racists,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t think I was a racist.

Then they came for the 1st Amendment,
and I didn’t speak out because I thought we had 1st Amendment forever in the US Constitution.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left who could speak for me.

J_Crater on September 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Does that mean the DoJ has adopted the UN resolution and thrown the US Constitution out the window?

TerryW on September 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM

So the list has been expanded…..
(If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.)

If you don’t say anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear.

TerryW on September 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM

The DoJ under the Obama administration is as corrupt and incompetent as can be.

Eroding our rights, or UNALIENABLE rights, is untenable.

Obama is answerable for this failing of the DoJ, through his appointment and continued endorsement of Eric Holder.

Obama must be defeated in the election on November 6th, and replaced with an administration that is capable of understanding, and standing up for, the rights and freedoms mandated under the Constitution.

thatsafactjack on September 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Well look what the epa is up to now? Another mandate on how much fuel you must buy? The epa is the worse agency in dc and must be gotten rid of or a major downsize!

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-a-environment/249857-epas-four-gallon-minimum-mandate
L

letget on September 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM

When the man running the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ can’t bring himself to give that answer the first time it’s asked, we should all be very, very concerned.

If he gets a second term, the First Amendment will be eviscerated. I think that’s a safe bet.

petefrt on September 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Does that mean the DoJ has adopted the UN resolution and thrown the US Constitution out the window?

Hah! The US Constitution was thrown out the window as soon as Obama was sworn in. Obama is our living constitution.

hawkeye54 on September 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM

“Will you tell us here today, simply, that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?”

Looks like a good Presidential debate question.

albill on September 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM

December 19, 2011, the U.S. voted for and was instrumental in passing “U.N. Resolution 16/18” against “religious intolerance,” “condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion.”

So the the UN is doing something about the hate fill Islamist hoard persecuting and killing the Coptics etc. Right?….riiiight???

I’ve missed it…they must be focusing like a laser under the radar?

Mimzey on September 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Some speech is freer than others.

mankai on September 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

“Will you tell us here today, simply, that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?”

Looks like a good Presidential debate question.

albill on September 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM

No time. Need to get to the Nicki Minaj endorsement and the Ann Romney’s horse questions.

mankai on September 18, 2012 at 12:36 PM

The assumption of today’s Democrat Party being FOR America as it was founded would not be a good one on your part, Ed.

MNHawk on September 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Criticize Catholicism = GOOD! JUST! FRY THE PEDOHPHILES!

Criticize Islam = BAD! HATE! FRY THE BLASPHEMERS!

Nice country we live in. Remember when it was free?

CycloneCDB on September 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

So what are the odds the media/democrat party would eagerly approve if someone were to suggest those behind Piss Christ or Religulous should be prosecuted?

Yeah, right.

perroviejo on September 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Like franks said “It’s late in the day”.

This country is done.

BoxHead1 on September 18, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Do you Remember a time when “Liberal” meant support of Liberty?
Chip on September 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Sure, it was back when the word “gay” meant pleasant; the word “racist” meant someone who advocated government-enforced discrimination among individuals based on skin color; the word “special” meant above-average; “economic fairness” meant protecting property rights; etc….

Even the word NewSpeak itself is a bit of a misnomer. The goal is not to add new concepts, but to erase old ones.

logis on September 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

It wasn’t the film that led to the violence anyway… it was Bain.

mankai on September 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM

The day will come when it will be considered offensive and stigmatizing of a religion to say, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah and savior of all mankind, and Mohammed was not God’s prophet because all God’s work in this age is complete in Jesus Christ.”

It will be equally offensive and stigmatizing of a religion to say, “The world still awaits the Messiah, God’s name is YHWH, and Mohammed was not a prophet of God.”

It will be offensive and stigmatizing of a religion to say, “There is no God at all, and I refuse to acknowledge or worship one.”

It will be offensive and stigmatizing of a religion to say, “Our custom, based on our deeply-held beliefs, is to let young men and women choose whom they will marry; to be tolerant of homosexuality, even if we don’t enshrine it in a civil religion; to regard it as modest for a woman or man to go about in public without a head covering; to accord men and women equal civil rights, including work, expression, voting, ownership of property, choice of living conditions, access to transportation, and public representation and testimony of all kinds; and to allow dissenting opinions and ideas full expression in public, even if we don’t condone or subsidize all of them.”

There is no moderation in seeking to repress speech. There is only a slippery slope with an abyss of despair at the bottom.

J.E. Dyer on September 18, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Perez and Holder are at the root of the politicization of the DOJ at the expense of justice and the Constitution.

onlineanalyst on September 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM

All this is a setup for the first person to be arrested for a “speech crime” followed by his resisting with a gun. I had thought it would be the seizure of weapons first, but this is much more fun for the Administration. Anyone who does not show respect for Islam is “inciting violence”, the equivalent of screaming “Fire!” in a theater and will be arrested and his personal life gone through, like our recently snatched, exposed and departed movie producer.

It has already started for blacks even before the Zimmerman case. “Hate Facts” are being censored, like black crime rates or smash and grabs or “Beat Whitey Night” or roving mobs of blacks as the news media already do. (See: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/05/15/a-censored-race-war ) by Thomas Sowell. Talk about them, you lose your job.

Any criticism of race/Islam will be a Thought crime, unless the person is White (or White-Hispanic), then you can demean and smear all you want. Whites have let themselves be convinced that it is racist merely to object to dispossession, much less to work for their own interests. Never before has a people been fooled into thinking that there was virtue or nobility in surrendering its heritage, and giving away to others its place in history; only whites have been tricked into thinking that love for their own people is somehow “hatred” of others. The purging of the 1st Amendment is critical, done of course in the name of National Security.

We have a contract with the Federal Government to act civilly as long as they abide by the Constitution. It is rapidly getting to the point where the people are holding to the contract and the Government is not.

Bulletchaser on September 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM

As noted in the post, official U.S. policy has favored “taking action against anything meeting the description of negative racial and religious stereotyping’ since 2009. The U.S. co-sponsored the resolution with Egypt, so there should be little wonder that Egypt now calls on the U.S. to enforce it in its law courts.

Upon adopting the resolution on October 1, 2009, ranking U.S. diplomat to the U.N., Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Griffiths said:

“The United States is very pleased to present this joint project with Egypt. This initiative is a manifestation of the Obama administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement throughout the United Nations and of our genuine desire to seek and build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect in pursuit of our shared common principles of tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Including denying U.S. citizens their First Amendment rights.

de rigueur on September 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Worth repeating in toto.
There has been an open-door policy to the Muslim Brotherhood from the inception of the Obama administration

onlineanalyst on September 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Free speech was an afterthought for Perez, not a first principle. He obfuscated until almost forced to admit he would comply with the Constitution.

That posture is not only telling of this administration’s view on the matter, but in concert with other similar issues should give every single American pause.

Marcus Traianus on September 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

As long as we can practice our second amendment, our first amendment is safe. We have the government we tolerate.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on September 18, 2012 at 1:25 PM

I assume the department would make a commitment that you’re not going to offer a proposal to criminalize protected speech, to criminalize criticism of religion or of anybody else, other than in the context of a direct threat.

After reviewing the update the initial question still remains.

Notice how Nadler added the word ‘protected’ to his question. Without any actual definition for this word in this context, Perez can agree.

Why Perez could not agree earlier still makes no sense.

Freddy on September 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

The tape stands on its own…

d1carter on September 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM

As Freddy at 1:32PM I believe indicates, I too do not see unequivocal proof that Perez verified that the DOJ would protect free speech rights.

Rather Perez agreed that DOJ won’t “offer a proposal” to criminalize criticism of religion. But his statement leaves open the possibility that DOJ would enforce such a proposal made by someone else – the UN for example.

What line or lines must be crossed before the term “anti-American” becomes unavoidable in describing the actions of Perez and those behind him in this matter?

DrDeano on September 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM

So much fodder here:

- hate speech has already been criminalized in the application of sentencing; can you prosecute someone explicitly for “hate speech”? No, but it can be a sentencing enhancement.

- The United States Supreme Court has defined hate speech as any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or other characteristic. In the United States, most forms of hate speech are protected by the U.S. Constitution, and laws prohibiting such speech have been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, with the exception of hate speech deemed to fall into various categories such as obscenity, defamation, incitement to riot, and fighting words. Using principles set forth by the Supreme Court, even in cases where speech would arguably encourage violence, the speech is rendered unlawful only if the threat of violence is imminent and the speech is likely to produce such violence. http://parsequalitycenter.org/newsroom/is_hate_speech_constitutionally_protected1

We have seen repeatedly that when it comes to Muslims disparaging remarks, cartoons, videos, etc. are adequate to incite immediate and deadly violence against Americans and others. Is this the gateway for DOJ to prosecute protected speech in the US?

- or will it be through the gateway that liberals have created saying that US courts of law should take international law and rulings of foreign courts and tribunals into account when issuing rulings on domestic cases?

- we can trust absolutely that politicians won’t redefine derogatory comments about religion to constitute a prosecutable offense – or maybe there will be an Executive Order, or guidance memorandum from the DOJ doing the same. (Last week it was revealed that under Obamacare a new 18 page description of “full-time” employment states that an employee is considered to be full-time if he/she works 30+ hours per week. That will come as a surprise to a whole bunch of employers! Welcome to Newspeak.)

- You can see why Perez was unclear how to respond. On the one hand you have the US Constitution [signed hundreds of years ago by decrepit, hate filled old white men] and on the other you have Obama’s Cairo speech where he explicitly said “And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09

I am completely confident that Mr. Perez and his colleagues in this administration will stalwartly defend the Constitution of the United States. /sarc

in_awe on September 18, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Justice at its highest levels, does not support nor will it defend the constitution. Holder and his crew are emnemies of the Republic.

StevC on September 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Under the Islamists in charge in this administration, creeping sharia has been supplanted (replaced through force or treachery) by Fast and Furious sharia.

The concepts of a global caliphate work hand in glove with a global new world order under the U.N., and the U.S. Constitution is irrelevant in that construct.

The words treason and sedition spring to mind.

If this administration is not voted out, we are facing the unimaginable and unthinkable: the demise of our nation.

I pray we make it to an actual election on November 6th.

Opinionator on September 18, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I’m less than impressed with Perez’ belated recognition of First Amendment and free speech issues than Michael

Ditto.

Tim_CA on September 18, 2012 at 3:26 PM

The other evening, I made a major decision in my life, with which I feel very comfortable.  I denounced my association with the Catholic religion and vowed never again to place foot in a Catholic Church.  I told my wife that I would never accept a Catholic priest administering "last rites" if I am
awaiting death in a hospital or hospice.  I am not denouncing God or His existence, but merely breaking away with an organized religion that is becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s world.  My faith in God will continue, but in a much more personal sense without the interference of a "paternal" organization like the Catholic Church.

I have come to believe that God is calling out to mankind to rise up against the false religion of Islam and it’s encroachment on countries all over the world, including the U.S.  I am not making references to the Crusades, but I do believe God is wanting non-Muslims of all religious denominations to stand up for Him, as the very core tenets of His word is under attack from Islam and, yes, the U.S. government as well as other Western governments in the world. I see the recent unrest in the Middle East as a warning from God that we are "losing our religion", or faith as I would call it, to the manacles of Islam.

Muslim unrest has been occurring for years in many areas of the world, particularly in the Middle East, so the current events taking place are nothing new.  What is different is the beginning of Western governments to appease Muslims in unprecedented ways that will eventually lead to an end of any
organized religion other than Islam.  Jews, Christians, atheists, and others will all be forced to submit to Islam someday or face severe punishment and possible death.  The Crusades for the Christians ended centuries ago, but never ended for the Muslims.

As for the Catholic Church and it’s followers, it seems as if they have gone into hiding.  Yes, there are a few bishops who are currently in litigation with the U.S. government over Obamacare, but not much is made of it.  I think most people, including Catholics, feel the outcome is a foregone
conclusion.  Obamacare will win again in the courts, and Catholics and other Christians will be forced to pay for abortions and contraception, against their religious principles.  But little is coming out of the Vatican on either Obamacare or the problem of Islam.  It’s almost as if the Catholic leaders are saying "turn the other cheek" as their followers are being slapped in the face over their beliefs or the Coptic Christians are being slaughtered in Egypt.  The "others" or infidels can’t seem to organize and present their case.  I’m beginning to believe most Catholics in this country don’t care to raise their voices.  It’s too inconvenient to do so.

Where are the Christians in this country who are outraged over the treatment of Christians in other parts of the world? Where are the Christians, Jews and others who would rather not be forced to pay for abortions and contraception? Where are the Christians, Jews and others who abide by the U.S. Constitution and are willing to stand up for the 1st amendment, regardless of how offensive free speech can be at times? Where will the Christians, Jews and others be will when the U.S. government declares any speech of any kind against Islam as a "hate" crime, punishable by incarceration and monetary fines? That is going on behind the scenes at this very moment, and no one seems to care.  Hollywood liberals will still make offensive movies such as "The Last Temptation of Christ", "The Da Vinci Code", "Religulous" and others while films against Islam will be a crime.

When Jews, Christians and others are ready to organize against the attacks on their religions and beliefs by marching on Washington, I will be ready to join in to make my voice heard.  As for remaining a Catholic, that is not going
to happen and I am at peace with that decision.

metroryder on September 18, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Criticism of a religion (or anything else) is a very different thing from a death threat or an incitement to murder and violence.

Not to Muslims when the criticized religion is Islam.

We either accept the Muslim view (becoming dhimmis and tossing our Constitution and natural rights in the trash forever) or we have to reject it. If we reject their view, then who said what to irritate the Muslims could not be more completely irrelevant. For instance, the government had no damned business hunting down and questioning a citizen about what he said about Islam. It was completely irrelevant to the ongoing violence in Benghazi and elsewhere.

If we reject their view, then they are no more than murderous savages killing for no other reason than that they are savages being thwarted in their will to dominate and oppress us.

This is not complicated. It is as simple and direct a choice as any choice any of us will ever have to make.

Perez clearly wishes for us to submit, but he wants to say it in a way in which he can deceive us into thinking he’s not saying what he is clearly saying. Totten fell for it.

fadetogray on September 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

The people in the Department of Justice take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. If they cannot support the First Amendment, they broke that oath and should be removed at once. No more free rides for this corrupt bunch of would be politicians, do your job or get the hell out of our government.

savage24 on September 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Did he really clarify, though? In a casual conversation, I’d be satisfied with his answer, but the way he completes the reporter’s statement for him with the phrase “hate speech” and then simply replies with
the single word “correct” smells a little fishy. The end effect is that words to the effect of “we won’t criminalize free speech” never leave his mouth, so that later, if he tries to prosecute “hate speech” he can weasel his way out of his answer here, with some BS claim that he didn’t understand the question, and that when he said “correct” he just meant the reporter is “correct” to call it hate speech, instead of free speech.

Maybe I’m being paranoid, but given the general posture of this administration on this issue, I feel like they need to be forced to make more definitive statements on these kinds of things, rather than just giving these one word replies to sentences that involved some crosstalk.

RINO in Name Only on September 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM

consistent with the Constitution

WHO’S CONSTITUTION??

lawyers, left wingers, doublespeak, triplespeak, newspeak, outright lies, manipulation, redirection, deflection…you choose.

John Kettlewell on September 18, 2012 at 5:50 PM

I don’t know why Perez struggled with it. The simple and correct answer to Franks’ question is “no.”

His twitter feed from the WH/DoJ monitors was delayed?

BobMbx on September 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM

The fact that it took almost the whole hearing for the man whose supposed to protect civil rights to decide whether….

Should be “who’s”, Ed. (Or, really, “who is”.)

The real problem with these blasphemy laws is they address the wrong side of the equation. The problem is not people criticizing other religions, but harming those who are of other religions.

GWB on September 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM

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