You knew this was coming. It was inevitable. We have seen it before.
When the Obama Administration blamed the Benghazi jihad attack on a video about Muhammad, there were calls in the mainstream media for restrictions on the freedom of speech. Eric Posner in Slate derided the First Amendment’s “sacred status” and declared that “Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order.”
In the Los Angeles Times, Sarah Chayes noted that “the current standard for restricting speech — or punishing it after it has in fact caused violence — was laid out in the 1969 case Brandenburg vs. Ohio. Under the narrower guidelines, only speech that has the intent and the likelihood of inciting imminent violence or lawbreaking can be limited.” She then argued at length that the Muhammad video did indeed have the likelihood of inciting imminent violence, and should thus be banned. Her article was a sleazy and dishonest sleight of hand, as the law is that speech that calls for violence can be banned, whereas she was arguing that speech that doesn’t call for violence, but that might make people who oppose it behave violently, should be banned. That would be to enshrine the heckler’s veto into law and to enable Islamic jihadis to silence anyone they disliked simply by killing someone.
And in the Washington Post, the vile gutter thug Nathan Lean (who has repeatedly published on Twitter what he thinks is my home address and places I frequent, in a transparent attempt to endanger me and those around me, and/or to frighten me into silence) declared: “The voices of hate that hope to fracture our society along religious lines should have no place in our public discourse.” Who would decide which are the “voices of hate” that should be silenced? People like Nathan Lean, of course – that is, purveyors of the “Islamophobia” myth who are determined to silence anyone and everyone who dares raise the slightest objection to the advancing jihad.
And now, Lindsay Wise and Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy wish that Pamela Geller and I could be prosecuted for standing for free speech against violent intimidation, and describe completely wrongly the concept of “fighting words,” which is actually about words spoken in an actual fight situation, not about an innocuous activity that others find so provocative as to commit murder.
The free world is going quietly.
“After Texas shooting: If free speech is provocative, should there be limits?,” by Lindsay Wise and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy, May 4, 2015 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
WASHINGTON — Organizers of the Muhammad Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas, knew violence was a possibility.
They shelled out $10,000 for extra security to patrol the controversial event, which featured a speech by a Dutch politician who’s on al Qaida’s “hit list” and a contest for the best cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Local law enforcement was on the alert. A SWAT team and a bomb squad patrolled.
The two gunmen who opened fire with assault weapons outside the exhibit on Sunday were killed by a police officer. They have been identified by law enforcement as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both of Phoenix. They appear, from social media posts, to have been motivated by a desire to become mujahedeen, or holy warriors.
The attack highlights the tensions between protecting Americans’ treasured right to freedom of expression and preserving public safety, and it raises questions about when – if ever – government should intervene.
There are two exceptions from the constitutional right to free speech – defamation and the doctrine of “fighting words” or “incitement,” said John Szmer, an associate professor of political science and a constitutional law expert at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“Fighting words is the idea that you are saying something that is so offensive that it will lead to an immediate breach of the peace,” Szmer explained. “In other words, you are saying something and you should expect a violent reaction by other people.”
The exhibit of cartoons in Texas might have crossed the line, Szmer said.
“I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect what they were doing would incite a violent reaction,” he said.
Organizers knew, he said, that caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims consider insulting, have sparked violence before. In a recent case that drew worldwide attention, gunmen claiming allegiance with the self-described Islamic State killed 12 people in an attack on the Paris offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was known for satirical depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
On the other hand, “fighting words can contradict the basic values that underlie freedom of speech,” Szmer said. “The views being expressed at the conference could be seen as social commentary. Political and social speech should be protected. You are arguably talking about social commentary.”
It’s unlikely that the issue will be tested in the Garland case, however, because prosecutors in Texas almost certainly won’t press charges against the conference organizers, he said.
The anti-Islam group that organized the art exhibit and contest in Garland is the American Freedom Defense Initiative, whose mission is the preservation “of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal rights for all,” according to its Facebook page….
The gunmen’s violent actions will end up drawing undeserved attention to the hateful message spread by Geller’s group, said David Schanzer, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
“Any efforts to censor them or restrict their rights will just play into their agenda, which is to antagonize and spread a pretty vile message,” Schanzer said.
What exactly is vile about standing up for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law, Schanzer? You’re just libeling, not giving a reasoned argument.
The best way to fight against people you disagree with is to confront their ideas, he said.
“I think their ideas are both wrong and actually makes problems worse through their actions,” Schanzer said. Echoing Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ well-known sentiment from 1927, he added: “I say we go against them by fighting speech with more speech.”…