The Corner

First Amendment

John Stossel has written a blog post that serves as a good reminder that you can’t rely on government to always protect free speech. Thankfully, most of his examples took place in Canada.

One U.S. example he talks about is the cartoonist in Seattle who came up with the idea of an “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” because she wanted to ”defend something our country is famous for, but may not be famous for long, given that Comedy Central cooperated with terrorists.” She ended up backing off by fear of retaliation.

Stossel: “Understandable, but sad.” However, isn’t the existence of the cartoonist’s fear even more reason to come up with ideas like hers?

Remarkably, some people remain fearless. Stossel interviewed a few of them on his show last night, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia and raised as a devout Muslim. As Stossel reminds us:

She came to the West — the Netherlands — at age 22, to escape an arranged marriage with a man she had never met. There she studied enlightenment thinkers, like John Stuart Mill and Friedrich Hayek and was elected to the Dutch parliament. She also produced a film about Islam’s subjugation of women with Dutch movie-maker Theo Van Gogh.

A Muslim man who took offense at the movie shot and stabbed Van Gogh. The killer left a note on Van Gogh’s body.  Addressed to Hirsi Ali, it said that she was next to “be destroyed.”

Today Ayaan lives in America, where she keeps speaking out. She has a new book about her life story, called Nomad, and a foundation that aims to “to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West against militant Islam.”

Her incredible life is an inspiring example of courage and commitment to free speech. I wish I had that type of courage, and I’m grateful that I’ve never had to live in a place where one could be put to death for one’s beliefs.

For more on this topic, you can read the very thoughtful posts of Reason’s Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch here and here.

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