Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Freedom of Speech Brings Responsiblity & Consequences

“In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
Pamela Geller, American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)

The American Freedom Defense Initiative believes that our country is in danger of being taken over by Islamic extremists who threaten our way of life. Of particular concern is the threat these “savages” present to our freedom of speech. The AFDI cites the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, as evidence of the threat.

So the AFDI decided that an appropriate response would be to stage an event which they billed as “an exercise in free speech.” The “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” invited participants to display their drawings of the prophet Mohammad…good taste not being a pre-requisite for admission.

Two heavily armed suspects approached the event and opened fire on a security guard. The two suspects were shot and killed by police. ISIS has claimed credit for the attack.

When asked if her if AFDI bared some responsibility for the attack, founder Pamela Geller pushed back. She said blaming the attack on AFDI was like blaming a rape on the victim because she wore a short skirt. The fault she said, lies with the extremists who threaten our right of expression: “We will not abridge our freedom of speech in order to not offend savages.”

We are fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom of self-expression. I believe that along with this precious right comes the burden and responsibility to use it wisely.

Ms. Geller and her organization are well within their rights to stage such an event. She has the personal freedom to refer to followers of Islam as “savages.” Just as she has the right to proclaim on the AFDI website that President Obama is the love child of Malcolm X.

We have the right to express ourselves. We also have the responsibility to consider the consequences of that expression.

We have the right to walk down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and call every African American the “N” word.

We have the right to stroll through a Jewish neighborhood and proclaim the Holocaust a hoax.

We have the right to walk into a police station and call every cop there a fascist.

We have the right…but there are consequences.

I will forever defend the right of the AFDI to hold its event. I also have the right to question the wisdom of insulting over 1 billion Muslims; 99.9% of whom agree with the AFDI’s views against the extremists.

Why hold such an event? To what end? ISIS will use this AFDI event as a recruiting tool. It will foment more hatred within the extremist community. It will endanger the lives of service men and women serving overseas and American citizens traveling abroad. And it will propagate a lie; that we in this country see ALL followers of Islam as savages and threats to our way of life.

The right to freedom of speech is precious. It must be used wisely.

For there are consequences.

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