Prosecuting Stupid Speech (UPDATED)
Here’s a suggestion that will make America a better place: let’s hold the exercise freedom of speech in the United States hostage to the actions of violent barbarians in other country! Mike Barnicle, a regular contributor to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, offered this insightful idea for upholding American ideals in the face of the savagery of the assassination of the American ambassador to Libya yesterday:
Given this supposed minister’s role in last year’s riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where, not yet nailed down, but at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact.
[Note: the “supposed minister” in question is cult leader Terry Jones, the Florida buddy of Westboor Baptist Church, who had nothing to do with making the film in question, but is promoting it.]
Leave aside the novel definition of “accessory before or after the fact.” Barnicle is from Chicago, where they are known for, shall we say, unique approaches to criminal law. What he is suggesting is that terrorists and criminals who violate American sovereignty and murder American citizens be given a “heckler’s veto” over the free speech of Americans. In other words, total capitulation to totalitarian Islam.
Terry Jones is a moron, and the movie in question may or may not be a good idea. But in the United States of America, stupid, inconvenient, and even offensive speech is supposed to be free from government censorship, and while it may be illegal to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater, the “heckler’s veto” has no place. If the murderous thugs of the Middle East don’t like that, our response should be the same as General Anthony McAuliffe’s to the German demand for the surrender of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge: “NUTS!”
UPDATE: If you have 14 minutes that that you don’t mind tossing on the flaming scrapheap of life, you can waste it watching the trailer for the opus that has cretins across North Africa wetting their pants. It’s so bad I don’t think even the folks at Mystery Science Theater 3000 would have subjected themselves to it. All I can say is I hope Battlefield Earth never plays in Cairo, or we might have a full-scale Middle East war on our hands.
UPDATE: Twitchy reports that on an academic who wants to get in on the lynching party directed at the producers of the film. Anthea Butler, a religion professor at the University of Pennsylvania, writes on Twitter:
Good Morning. How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now.When Americans die because you are stupid…
And yes, I know we have First Amendment rights,but if you don’t understand the Religion you hate, STFU about it. Yes, I am ticked off.—
And people do to jail for speech. First Amendment doesn’t cover EVERYTHING a PERSON says.—
I am all for free speech, but you better damn well understand that actions have consequences, and what you mock is another persons belief.—
the murder of the Ambassador and the employees is wrong, wrong. But Bacile will have to face his actions which he had freedom—
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