Free Speech < ‘Tolerance’

by Sonny Bunch on September 18, 2012

On the heels of this and this, comes this:

Holmes’ test — that words are not protected if their nature and circumstances create a “clear and present danger” of harm — has since been tightened. But even under the more restrictive current standard, “Innocence of Muslims,” the film whose video trailer indirectly led to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens among others, is not, arguably, free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution and the values it enshrines. …

The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.

Should Sarah Chayes’ cowardly advice be heeded, the lesson to Jews, Christians, Sikhs, etc is simple: If you don’t want to see your faith insulted, kill some random people and blame it on the insult. Piss Christ pissin’ you off? Burn down a mosque! Anti-Semitic op-eds in the New York Times gettin’ you down? Shoot a journalist! You don’t like Spike Lee failing to respect Sikhs in Inside Man? Blow up a movie theater! As we’ve seen, the First Amendment only applies if it doesn’t insult someone to the point of violence.

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