The Corner

Re: ‘Free Speech is Free Speech is Free Speech’

Reason’s Jesse Walker adds a quick footnote to Matt Welch’s earlier comments:

A quick footnote to Matt’s excellent post about the Cairo embassy’s comments on “religious incitement”: In addition to being wrongheaded, these little announcements are self-defeating. When you issue such statements, you encourage the view that the government is somehow responsible for the speech you’re condemning. Even if you succeed in calming the crowds — and to judge from what happened yesterday, you shouldn’t expect to achieve even that much — any fringe film that you haven’t anathematized can become the next cause célèbre. And if you think you can keep pumping out statements attacking every one of them, ponder what will happen if a mob decides to riot over the comments of a congressman, or someone else that a diplomat wouldn’t want to officially denounce. Better to embrace free speech from the beginning than to lend support to the idea that your job requires you to sort acceptable expression from bad.

Quite.

As Mark notes:

The mob of “Islamic rage boys” gets mad about all kinds of stuff — cartoons, dogs, teddy bears. You can never make a long enough list to satisfy them. So you might as well tell them you’re not going to start.

On the other hand, here’s Karzai:

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday condemned an American-made film that mocks Islam, galvanizing fears among Westerners that the Afghan leader’s denunciation could be read as a go-ahead to stage violent protests.  The presidential palace said in a statement that Karzai “strongly and resolutely denounces this desecrating act” and expressed “abhorrence in the face of such an insult.”

… A condemnation from Karzai was thought to have inflamed passions in the spring of 2010, after Jones and his followers staged a Koran-burning. Nearly two weeks elapsed without any reaction in Afghanistan, until Karzai issued a call for Jones’ arrest and prosecution. The next day, April 1, a furious mob descended on the U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing seven foreign U.N. workers.

Karzai’s public stance toward the NATO force and his U.S. patrons has been somewhat hostile of late. He issued a strident statement accusing the United States of disregarding Afghan sovereignty after American authorities retained some Taliban and other insurgent suspects when handing the country’s main military detention facility over to Afghan control. And the Afghan leader commemorated Tuesday’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by criticizing the West’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

And in so doing Karzai insults those who serve and have served in (and, in no small way, for) his country, and desecrates the memory of those who have been killed while doing so.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

What Next?

Imagine this: You have a friend who has never saved a penny for his retirement. You ask him about it when he is in his twenties, and he says, “No problem — I’m going to win the lottery.” Years go by. You ask him about it in his thirties, in his forties, in his fifties, etc., and get the same answer. At ... Read More
Politics & Policy

What Next?

Imagine this: You have a friend who has never saved a penny for his retirement. You ask him about it when he is in his twenties, and he says, “No problem — I’m going to win the lottery.” Years go by. You ask him about it in his thirties, in his forties, in his fifties, etc., and get the same answer. At ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Year of Resentment

Political journalists, commentators, pundits, and flacks often engage in their work in a year like this with a world-weary, if not depressed, attitude. And given the oddly low metabolism of our presidential campaign, who could blame them? Donald Trump isn’t able to do the rallies that energized him and his ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Year of Resentment

Political journalists, commentators, pundits, and flacks often engage in their work in a year like this with a world-weary, if not depressed, attitude. And given the oddly low metabolism of our presidential campaign, who could blame them? Donald Trump isn’t able to do the rallies that energized him and his ... Read More
Education

Tom Cotton Introduces Campus Free-Speech Bill

I am pleased to announce that today Senator Tom Cotton has introduced the “Campus Free Speech Restoration Act” (CAFSRA). Under CAFSRA, public colleges and universities that promulgate restrictive speech codes, so-called free-speech zones, and other unconstitutional speech policies will lose their eligibility ... Read More
Education

Tom Cotton Introduces Campus Free-Speech Bill

I am pleased to announce that today Senator Tom Cotton has introduced the “Campus Free Speech Restoration Act” (CAFSRA). Under CAFSRA, public colleges and universities that promulgate restrictive speech codes, so-called free-speech zones, and other unconstitutional speech policies will lose their eligibility ... Read More