Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who now serves as a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, appears to be taking a page from Michele Bachmann with a new claim that the Obama administration is going to begin limiting free speech and expression to prohibit anti-Muslim rhetoric. While speaking to Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio, Bolton agreed with Gaffney that the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton is working with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to curtail the freedom of speech and begin “reinstitute blasphemy laws.” He even warned that there are people within the Obama administration who have hate speech laws “on their agenda” and made the absurd assertion that Secretary Clinton is opposed to the freedom of expression.
Bolton: I am very worried that under the Obama administration we are submitting to this claim that people have to temper their free speech rights to be respectful of what the OIC claims is the appropriate standard. Take the US embassy in Cairo’s first statement which apologize for this film as if appeasement was going to stop the mob from coming over the embassy’s wall, while it’s true that the Obama administration repudiated that statement honestly if you look carefully at what the President and particularly Secretary Clinton said since then they still are apologizing for this act, scurrilous though it might be, of an American private citizen. And it ties in directly — it’s a direct analytical predicate for the claim that it’s the movie that’s the whole problem with the riots and demonstrations in the Middle East. I think this is something that we need a broader public debate about because the notion that somehow we’re going to reinstitute blasphemy laws in the United States is something the overwhelming majority of Americans would react instinctively against.
Gaffney: Yet we are seeing as a result of something called the Istanbul process, which as you mentioned Secretary State Hillary Clinton has been involved, John Bolton, which produced last December a resolution in the Human Rights Council which is aimed at trying to prevent defamation of religions and goes beyond really what Mrs. Clinton has talked about in terms of ‘old fashioned peer pressure and shaming’ as instruments of suppressing free expression that offends Muslims. It seems uniquely geared towards Muslims by the way, I’ve not heard anybody saying we have to be impede people from being critical of Christians or Jews or Hindus or anybody else. But John Bolton to the extent to what we have been seeing elsewhere around the world, notably the prosecution of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Lars Hedegaard in Denmark and Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant in Canada to what amounts to hate speech. Do you think we’re on a track in this country, maybe under the guise of incitement, of a similar kind of constraint on freedom of expression if the Obama administration has its way?
Bolton: I think there are people who clearly have that on their agenda; I don’t see how we can blanket that reality. I do think that it comes in with a deceptively cautious approach to say ‘we just want people to be respectful,’ well fine that’s a decision each individual makes. But the whole point of our first amendment which I think distinguishes us from every other country around the world and is another example of American exceptionalism is that the government does not interfere with the content of speech, that is up to the political opinion of each speaker. That favorite liberal icon, Justice Brennan, in that famous iconic case New York Times v. Sullivan, said that debate in America should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and I say I stand with Justice Brennan and against Secretary Clinton on that point.