It sure seems to me somebody in the federal government thinks so:
A U.S. attorney in Tennessee is reportedly vowing to use federal civil rights statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech about Islam.
Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, was quoted by the Tullahoma News this week suggesting that some inflammatory material on Islam might run afoul of federal civil rights laws.
“We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we’re here, they’re going to be protected,” Killian told the newspaper.
Killian, along with the FBI special agent that runs the Knoxville office, are set to speak next week to a special meeting with the local Muslim community, informing them about their rights under federal law.
“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian said about the meeting. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”
Killian pointed to a recent controversy where a local Tennessee politician posted a photo of a man aiming a shotgun at the camera with the caption “How to wink at a Muslim.”
“If a Muslim had posted ‘How to Wink at a Christian,’ could you imagine what would have happened?” Killian asked, according to the newspaper.
The Department of Justice did not respond Friday to a question about what guidelines it draws concerning offensive speech and Islam, or whether the department believes that civil rights statutes could be used to stifle criticism of Islam.
The mere suggestion of this makes the first amendment put on a parka and winter hat it’s so chilling.