Free Speech Isn’t the ProblemPosted: September 21, 2012
There is no alternative to the First Amendment
‘No One Murdered Because Of This Image.”
That was a recent headline from the Onion, the often hilarious parody newspaper.
The image in question is really not appropriate to describe with any specificity in a family newspaper. It’s quite simply disgusting. And, suffice it to say, it leaves nothing to the imagination.
Four of “the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity,” according to the Onion, and yet “no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday.”
“Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”
There was one conspicuous no-show for the celestial orgy: the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
The Onion’s point should be obvious. Amidst all of the talk of religious tolerance and the hand-wringing over free speech in recent days, one salient fact is often lost or glossed over: What we face are not broad questions about the limits of free
speech or the importance of religious tolerance, but rather a very specific question about the limits of Muslim tolerance and the unimportance of free speech to much of the Muslim world.
It’s really quite amazing. In Pakistan, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being harassed, brutalized, and even murdered, often with state support, or at least state indulgence. And let’s not even talk about the warm reception Jews receive in much of the Muslim world.
And yet, it seems you can’t turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper or a highbrow magazine without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a movie theater.
It’s an interesting comparison. First, the prohibition on yelling “fire” in a theater only applies to instances where there is no fire. A person who yells “fire” when there is, in fact, a fire is quite likely a hero…