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Bowing to the Mob
Government-funded film critics do grotesque damage to freedom of speech.


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Mark Steyn

I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single “O” logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick hollow vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn’t occasionally intersect with reality?

On the latter point, after a week and a half of peddling an utterly false narrative of what happened in Libya, the United States government is apparently beginning to discern that there are limits to what even Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice can say with a straight face. The official line — that the slaughter of American officials was some sort of improvised movie review that got a little out of hand — is now in the process of modification to something bearing a less patently absurd relationship to what actually happened. That should not make any more forgivable the grotesque damage that the administration has done to the bedrock principle of civilized society: freedom of speech.

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The more that U.S.-government officials talk about the so-called film Innocence of Muslims (which is actually merely a YouTube trailer) the more they confirm the mob’s belief that works of “art” are the proper responsibility of government. Obama and Clinton are currently starring as the Siskel & Ebert of Pakistani TV, giving two thumbs down to Innocence of Muslims in hopes that it will dissuade local moviegoers from giving two heads off to consular officials. “The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video,” says Hillary Clinton. “We absolutely reject its content, and message.” “We reject the efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” adds Barack Obama. There follows the official State Department seal of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

Fellow government-funded film critics call Innocence of Muslims “hateful and offensive” (Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) and “reprehensible and disgusting” (Jay Carney, White House press secretary). General Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and senior Pentagon adviser to Variety, has taken to telephoning personally those few movie fans who claim to enjoy the film. He called up Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who apparently thinks Innocence of Muslims is the perfect date movie, to tell him the official position of the United States military is they’d be grateful if he could ease up on the five-star reviews.

Obama and Clinton’s two-on-the-aisle act cost $70,000 of taxpayers’ money. That may not sound much in the $16 trillion–dollar sinkhole of Washington, but it’s a pretty big ad buy in Islamabad, and an improper use of public monies. If government functionaries want to do movie reviews, they should have a PBS fundraiser, offering a “Barack & Hill at the Movies” logo-ed burqa for pledges of over $100, and a complimentary clitoridectomy for pledges over $500. I fought a long battle for freedom of expression north of the border when the Canadian Islamic Congress attempted to criminalize my writing, and I’m proud to say I played a modest role in getting Parliament to strike down a shameful law and restore a semblance of free speech to a country that should never have lost it. So I know a little about how the Western world is shuffling into a psychological bondage of its own making, and it’s no small thing when the First Amendment gets swallowed up by the vacuum of American foreign policy.

What other entertainments have senior U.S. officials reviewed lately? Last year Hillary Clinton went to see the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”? The Book of Mormon’s big showstopper is “Hasa Diga Eebowai” which apparently translates as “F*** you, God.” The U.S. secretary of state stood and cheered.

Why does Secretary Clinton regard “F*** you, God” as a fun toe-tapper for all the family but “F*** you, Allah” as “disgusting and reprehensible”? The obvious answer is that, if you sing the latter, you’ll find a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. So the “leader of the free world” and “the most powerful man in the world” (to revive two cobwebbed phrases nobody seems to apply to the president of the United States anymore) is telling the planet that the way to ensure your beliefs command his “respect” is to be willing to burn and bomb and kill. You Mormons need to get with the program.



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