In totally unsurprising news, goofball Civil-War-moustached preacher from Gainesville, Florida has been tied to something offensive to muslims. Again. Apparently, some real estate guy in California made a movie that portrays Mohammed (a muslim no-no) as a crazy, child-raping, philandering, torturing, conquering whack-job (a big muslim no-no), and Gainesville preacher man was somehow in on it. Also unsurprisingly, various muslims in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia are pitching fits.
First, it's okay to be angry. Plenty of movie makers have made Christians look like idiots over the years. I get the outrage. I've also seen the YouTube trailers, unlike most of the protesters. The movie insults Islam with its content. It also insults one of America's greatest religions (Hollywood) with its atrocious production values. These actors don't have the skill to be in a low budget porn movie. WWF wrestling is Oscar material by comparison. And I briefly felt the urge to set fire to the movie studio that produced this, because it seemed like it might actually be a public service.
But I got past that. That's what adults do. I have no problem slamming the filmmakers for their idiocy, but that's all I'm doing. Initially, that's all the aforementioned fit-pitching muslims did too. Loud, but peaceful protests were launched. Then some schmucks in Egypt decided to scale the U.S. embassy walls and tear down the flag. This is when protestors (normally just annoying pests) become agitators trying to intimidate us into silence.
This sort of reaction is all too common. The slightest insult to Islam results in riots and violence. It also results in dimwits flaunting their ignorance as to how the real world works. A 19 year-old in Egypt demanded that the movie be banned immediately. Sorry kid, the free world doesn't do censorship. Graffiti in Egypt read "If your freedom of speech has no limits, may you accept our freedom of action." If "freedom of action" means you're just going to protest, knock yourself out. Because it's free speech. But if freedom of action is a threat of violence, you might want to remember that our freedom of action includes Predator drones.
Slightly more disturbing is the reaction of some officials. The American Embassy's statement was “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” Abuse the universal right to freedom of speech? Wrong, fellas. The amendment exists precisely to protect this type of speech. That's why crosses dipped in urine and images of the Virgin Mary covered in feces are protected speech. It's offensive, but ideas that people find offensive are allowed, because sometimes they produce positive results.
For example, there was a time where the idea of a woman or a black person voting was offensive to many. Should we have shut down Women's Suffrage or the Civil Rights Movement because some people were offended? Being provocative is use of free speech, not abuse. The only abuse of free speech is not exercising it. Having said that, I'm not unsympathetic to the embassy's position. They were trying to distance themselves from the film in order to avoid retaliation. Not that it worked, but I get why they tried. They were trying to avoid getting killed. I generally try to avoid death as well. But we should not sacrific the Constitution on the altar of diplomacy.
The most violent incident occurred when some extremists in Libya, a country we helped liberate, used the confusion to attack our consulate in Benghazi. They killed the ambassador, a man who played a significant role in the liberation of Libya. There's gratitude for you. But several pundits decided to pin the blame on us. There are too many to list (use Google, you'll find them easily), but the most egregious is liberal pundit Sally Kohn, who tweeted "It's simple: US Ambassador is dead. Would still be alive but for reckless anti-Islam film. Doesn't excuse violence. Did provoke it." We brought it on ourselves.
This is an excuse common amongst husbands who beat their wives. Of course, plenty of muslim extremists are okay with wife-beating. There's a little more to this, though. Reports now say that the attack on the ambassador was planned long before this. So Sally Kohn is wrong, we didn't bring it on ourselves. This was just nutjobs doing nutjob stuff. The riots were in response to the movie, but not the attack.
But the key point here is that we should not be forced to avoid speaking our minds because we're afraid some crazy guy is going to light a fire. Protests are okay, but vandalism and assault are not. No one who believes in free speech should allow themselves to be intmidated into silence. If we remain silent because we're afraid someone will get violent, we've sold out the Constitution. If anything, we should keep being offensive so that the loonies of the world will learn to handle it like the decent people of the world.
Douchey preacher is a douchey. Most people agree on that. But in the free world, douchiness is not illegal. Countering offensive speech with other speech is how adults handle it. We don't set fires when some random guy does something stupid. We don't have riots when the a preacher burns Qurans on purpose, and we certainly don't do it when soldiers burn Qurans by accident. These things happen in the free world. You can't throw a temper tantrum every time it does. Grow up.