Jihadists Attack Free Speech in Texas

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Through Glenn Reynolds and Scott Holleran, I learned yesterday morning that Moslem thugs attacked an art exhibit in Texas. The first misses a chance to ask a probing question of the media, while the second raises a very good point.

Glenn Reynolds tweeted, "Does @cnn know there's a Texas?" That's an understandable question, since so many leftists could care less about Texas, part of an entire region they are more than happy to write off as benighted. But in light of the veneration of freedom of speech one still occasionally sees from the left and a recent post by Steve Simpson of the Ayn Rand Institute, perhaps Reynolds should have asked whether CNN knew about freedom of speech. Here's the money quote:

As Ayn Rand once said, "a gun is not an argument." If you doubt that, try debating with someone who agrees to talk to you until you offend them, at which point they will kill you. It's a real conversation stopper.
And if Reynolds could have reminded the media what their jobs depend on, Holleran does do a fine job of deflating a common objection to freedom of speech:
In fact, before the event, which is sponsored by an activist against Islam who says she sought to exercise free speech on principle, the Texas town's residents denounced the event on principle, comparing its intent and purpose to shouting 'fire!' in a crowded theatre and denying even the fact that it is an exercise of free speech. One resident spoke out against the anti-Islamic event, which is currently protected by the First Amendment, as a threat to "public safety". Of course, the oft-cited fire in a theatre claim is also a distortion of the freedom of speech; it is totally justifiable to speak up in case of one's belief that there is an impending emergency, such as a fire, even if one turns out to be wrong.
This is true, but one could object that it remains wrong to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater when one doesn't believe that to be the case. Indeed, I think that's what people usually have in mind when they bring up this objection, but Holleran is right to point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with doing this. Clearly, there are people out there who don't understand this distinction or don't want others to think of it when the issue of free speech vs. jihad comes up.

While the barbaric attack in Texas is disturbing, the indifference of the media and some of the locals to the issue of freedom of speech is much more so.

-- CAV

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