Screaming Fire in a Crowded & Violent World

(An alternative view.  Simple Makes a very strong case, but we have the right to political speech in this country.  Instead of telling the terrorists who this guy is, our country should be upholding our ideals. Which even include the right to be a dick. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

Even with the First Amendment, people cannot scream fire in a crowded movie theater.    Now we have a convicted drug dealer who has screamed fire in a crowded (and dangerous) world.

There is a big difference in these two situations, the latter is clearly a political act, while the former is simply a way to cause panic and, no doubt violence.  Clearly political forms of speech–no matter how irresponsible–must be protected.

But actions (and words) have consequences.  Anyone who has seen the 13 minute video in question, is aware of the reaction of extremists–who have a 7th century mentality–would have.  We are all aware of the deadly violence Muslim Extremist causes when they thought the Koran was destroyed or rioted over the Cartoon of Muhammad or assassinated Theo Van Gogh because of his movie.  Those who produced this video understood what would happen when word of it reached the Muslim world.

The result was the political equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded movie theater.

Four people are dead, thousands are rioting and attacking Americans and our troops are in danger of even more attacks.  Ironically, it also appears that the key person around this video has family in Egypt and he fears (rightfully) for his life and the lives of family members.  Even worse, this person is a Christian and no doubt this will cause even more violence against this minority group in Egypt.  His protected “free speech”–fanned by equally crazy people like the so-called preacher Terry Jones–is having catastrophic results.

Yet, conservatives in this country–from talk radio to Mitt Romney–defend this deadly form of free speech, claiming we have to defend our values.  You may not agree with it, but burning the American Flag is considered a form of free speech.  If someone walks into an American Legion Post meeting and burns an American Flag, do you condemn the 30 Vietnam Vets-who lost friends in combat and had their bodies drape in the flag-who kick the snots out of the idiot burning the flag?  Will you defend the idiot for exercising their free speech?  (And please, don’t scream that I’m comparing Veterans with Terrorists–just using this outrageous comparison to make a point.)

No one is going to defend this idiot, so why defend the idiot that made an inflammatory video, knowing it would start violence–4 dead and counting?

With rights come responsibilities.  Just because I have the right to do something–like march around an NAACP meeting with a confederate flag–doesn’t mean I should.  We can defend the right to do this, but we can still condemn the actual act because it is only meant to be inflammatory and could potentially incite violence.  

The so-called “apology” by the US Embassy in Egypt that the rightwing is rabid about was an attempt to de-escalate  a deadly situation.  And the rightwing–acting more in political campaign mode than acting responsible–condemns this behavior!  What the right leaves unsaid is their unspoken alternative to de-escalating this violent situation–to answer mass rioting with nation-state violence and risking even more quagmires we can not afford to be in.

In summary, even morons have a right to abuse the First Amendment to incite political violence.  But the rest of us have to act like we live in 2012 and not the 7th Century.  What needs to be defended today is enlightened behaviors and not the stoking the flames of violence.    

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