We are at a dangerous juncture. The 1st Amendment to The US Constitution is under a very real threat. People are getting very, very angry. People are just beginning to feel the tingle of fear. I understand their anger, as a worker on a military installation, I’m living the negative externalities of some of the fear. However, decisions made by angry or scared people are at a lower level of quality and foresight than decisions made by people who stop and give it thought. We need to give this some thought.
The question we are asked here is this: “Just how valuable to our society is free expression?”
The traditionalist answer*was expressed by Thomas Jefferson. A society with a government and no newspapers is worse than a society with newspapers and no government. The hard truth just has to be put out there. This is accomplished by letting anyone say what they want with very few exceptions and letting us all make our own best judgement as to what is true. Let that process run free, and you get to see your occasional sexually grotesque Mohammad drawings and a few handy-dandy Piss Christ sculptures thrown in just to be offensive.
Yet recently we’ve gotten two subsets of people who don’t share my opinion with respect to free expression. There are those who believe that speech offensive to their religions is so bad and so hateful that the speakers should be censored and possibly executed for their hate crimes against God. We saw this, of course, in Texas when two Jihadi attacked an anti-Islamist event held by Pamela Gellar. The attacks failed to hit Gellar; however, their negative externalities had minor impact on our society.**
There are people who gaze at that Piss Christ I posted and have begun cleaning their handguns. I’m no fan of Andreas Serrano myself. How you react to being disgusted by this evil little creep is a Rorschach test to just how much you are willing to put up with in order to enjoy 1st Amendment Freedoms. I eat this outrage because I value my freedom of expression highly. I even value the freedom of expression of people whose content I have a very low opinion of. I can use my own High Pass Filter to strain out the offensive content.
Jonah Goldberg lays out what reasonable ratiocination would probably conclude on the issue of blasphemy. I can’t stop anyone from Blaspheming on their own dime, however I shouldn’t be taxed to support Piss Christs. He opines below.
Which brings us to Pamela Geller. I’m consistent: I didn’t like “Piss Christ,” and I don’t like insulting drawings of Mohammed. If Geller wanted an NEA grant to dunk Mohammed in beautifully illuminated urine, I would disagree quite strongly. But that’s not what she’s doing. She’s contending that in America, people are allowed to say offensive things without risking execution. I am at a loss as to why anyone would disagree with that. But I am utterly baffled how people who think it’s censorship to withdraw funding for anti-Christian “hate speech” can argue that private individuals have no right to express anti-Muslim views.
So what gives with those who are overjoyed to see The Piss Christ but who feel the pain of the Jihadi? I think they come in two classes; cowards and revolutionaries. The cowards knuckle under when someone is so willing to resort to violence that they die trying to silence offensive speech. The revolutionaries want to limit freedom of expression in America and appreciate the jihadi for giving them a lever with which to move the US Constitution.
Thus, we have to grasp the nettle on this and stand in the face of violent censorship. To accept the view of the Muslims and worse yet, to adopt their tactics against the next, predictable occurrence of The Piss Christ would probably destroy what’s left of civil society. This, I believe is the endgame of CNN’s Chris Cuomo who claims hate speech doesn’t deserve constitutional protection. After all, a constitutional interpretation in line with Cuomo’s legal opinion is an open invitation to widespread violence and havoc. What type of sick individual would want that? The revolutionary. The revolutionary thinks Pam Gellar is a great vehicle for restricting the free speech of any who disagree. This is how the 1st Amendment gets dismantled.
*-My personal opinion as well..
**-More pronounced anywhere you have to go through the hassles that accompany Force Protection level Bravo.