The Terrorists’ Veto

Using riots, mayhem, and murder to “protest” an asinine trailer for an anti-Mohammad video on the Internet, the Middle East’s mobs, assassins, and hostile regimes have vetoed freedom of speech in the United States. Not only did America’s overseas diplomatic officers and staff have to hunker down under siege for a week, individual citizens here at home have good reason to fear that if they criticize the wrong religion, the response could be catastrophic for themselves, for others, or both. Neither the First Amendment nor the United States government, it seems, can do much about it.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before in another context. In the wake of the Beirut Spring in 2005, when massive demonstrations forced the end of Syria’s military occupation, Lebanon had decent provisions for freedom of speech—at least by regional standards and at least on paper. The country was theoretically free. But free speech was extra-legally and extra-judicially nullified by terrorists backed by a foreign police state. A wave of car bombs targeted journalists, activists, and officials critical of Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad. Everyone needed to watch what he said. Those who didn’t might be killed.

This is the terrorist’s veto. Now it’s our turn. A week after region-wide riots started in Cairo, Hezbollah sent half a million supporters into the streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs, ostensibly to protest the trailer for the now-infamous movie on YouTube. The mob screamed the same tired slogans we’re accustomed to hearing—“Death to America” and “Death to Israel”—but Hezbollah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah said something new. “The U.S. should understand that if it broadcasts the film in full it will face very dangerous repercussions around the world.”

Hezbollah is technologically advanced and media-savvy. Nasrallah knows perfectly well that when an individual uploads a video to YouTube, it doesn’t count as “the United States broadcasting a film.” That’s actually his point. He’s not threatening the United States in the abstract. He’s threatening you. If you insult Hassan Nasrallah’s religion on the Internet, terrorists may come after you.

You’re kidding yourself if you think he’s bluffing or that this is just talk. He’s not and it isn’t. There are precedents…

More via The Terrorists’ Veto by Michael J. Totten – City Journal.



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