Over at Ricochet, the one and only Mollie Hemingway has a personal, impassioned, not to mention handy, analysis of what the hell will happen to our First Amendment rights if certain people get their way. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech—obviously ideas that have outlived their usefulness, at least as traditionally defined, in the Age of Barack.
The Los Angeles Times story Mollie alludes to is particularly interesting, and by interesting I mean daft. Here’s the money quote from the editorialist, Sarah Chayes:
The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.
I’m sorry, but that’s exactly the point. FIrst of all, those “terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists” may or may not have been motivated by a cheesy video most of them probably have never even seen. And the idea that you can equate the extremism that results in the murder of the ambassador to Libya (or the fatwa on Salman Rushdie’s head or the murder of Theo van Gogh or the murder of nearly 3,000 on 9/11) and the burning of a Koran by the likes of a media whore like Terry Jones is exactly what the Left needs to impress on a public that must, must, come to see Christian fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists as opposite sides of the same coin.
They are not. But before the liberty to say even vile things (or at times even positively true things) that upset unstable people can become a felony, a majority need to be indoctrinated in a worldview that sees all religions as equal, and all as equally guilty of the same kinds of crimes on the same scale—not 500 years go, but today.
And this extends beyond mere religious affiliation. Remember who has formed an unholy alliance with the Christian fundies and their Israel fixation: those damnable neocons. And we know who they are. (And if you don’t, Maureen Dowd will remind you.)
“Hate speech”—defined by the mandarins of enlightened thinking as whatever does not prove useful in attaining a political goal—cannot be stifled completely, of course. But it can be redirected.