Clare Lopez on Civil Liberties and Natural Rights

Update: The prepared text for this intervention has been added to the bottom of the post.

The following video shows the intervention read by Clare Lopez, representing the Center for Security Policy, at OSCE Warsaw today, September 14, 2017, during Session 6, “Fundamental Freedoms, Including Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion, or Belief”.

Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:

Below is the prepared text for Ms. Lopez’ intervention:

America’s Founding Fathers understood that tyranny takes hold when men allow governments or religious systems to usurp the rights of the individual unto themselves

For this reason, they enshrined freedoms of belief, conscience & speech in 1st Amendment of our Constitution

These principles & these freedoms are Judeo-Christian-based, first articulated among the brilliant thinkers of the Enlightenment in Europe — although their roots trace back to Athens, Rome & Jerusalem

They derive from the revolutionary idea that the individual is the key pillar of society — not the clan, or tribe, or a religious belief system

The individual human being is entitled to these rights & freedoms because the laws of nature — which are knowable thru human reason — endow each & every person – men women equally — w/human dignity & the right to live free

Freedom of speech is among the most essential of our human liberties & one that gives voice & meaning to all the others – especially freedom of conscience & belief

Islam doesn’t have such beliefs or freedoms — there’s no such thing as ‘freedom of speech’ or belief articulated in Islamic Law (shariah)

Instead there is the “Law of Slander” — which defines ‘slander’ as anything that a Muslim would dislike — including the truth

Slander under shariah can carry the death penalty – indeed the Sira & hadiths tell us that some of the first assassinations ordered by Muhammad were precisely against poets for writing verses that he found insulting – apostasy from Islam likewise is a capital crime

I refer to the Council of Europe report from October 2016 on the ‘Compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights: can States Parties to the Convention be signatories of the ‘Cairo Declaration’?

And I suggest the answer is ‘No.’ A government or system that defines itself as liberal, Western & democratic does not impose restrictions on free speech to shield itself from criticism – much less impose a death penalty for belief or lack of belief

We of Western Civilization dignify the individual by permitting all speech, no matter how we dislike it, if it is not explicitly inciting to immediate violence – and all beliefs or lack of belief

And so I recommend for the ODIHR 2017: Let us leave here today, renewed & inspired to reject liberty-crushing concepts like ‘hate speech’ & death penalties for religious beliefs or rejection of belief & instead committed to defend freedoms of belief, conscience & speech & all the principles of liberty we hold so dear.

For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.

One thought on “Clare Lopez on Civil Liberties and Natural Rights

  1. I always had a problem with the concept of “natural rights”, ” laws of nature — which are knowable thru human reason” in Lopez’ words.

    To derive laws of nature, your premises have to be correct, and deriving natural laws of human rights is quite obviously completely dependent on obvious initial premises.

    What “natural rights” seems to mean is that it represents the consensus view of what is desirable for human conduct in a European society. It has a philosophical and legal base in the Magna Carta, Greek and Roman Law, and even Catholic Church theology, but is definitely not natural or derivable in other civilizations, particularly in Muslim societies.

    Muslim countries tend to be ruled by dictators, and it would not occur to them in their wildest dreams to extend freedom of speech to imams: it would be suicidal for a ruler in a Muslim country anyway, Islamic theology being what it is. If nothing else, a ruler who allowed imams to openly criticize him would be viewed as weak: a very fatal condition in a Muslim society.

    So, I think the “natural law” defense of free speech is weak, unsuccessful, and totally dependent on unstated, assumed premises.

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