First Amendment Death Watch Update: USA Today joins the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and others in calling for restrictions on the freedom of speech. They either don’t realize or don’t care that they’re cutting their own throat. “Opposing view: Why Sam Bacile deserves arrest,” by Anthea Butler in USA Today, September 12 (thanks to Judas):
Words have consequences. I know that because one of my tweets asking “when Sam Bacile would be arrested” drew wide attention on Wednesday.
My initial tweet about Bacile, the person said to be responsible for the film mocking the prophet Mohammed, was not because I am against the First Amendment. My tweets reflected my exasperation that as a religion professor, it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile’s Innocence of Muslims are taken as both truth and propaganda, and used against innocent Americans.
If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!
So why did I tweet that Bacile should be in jail? The “free speech” in Bacile’s film is not about expressing a personal opinion about Islam. It denigrates the religion by depicting the faith’s founder in several ludicrous and historically inaccurate scenes to incite and inflame viewers. Even the film’s actors say they were duped.
Bacile’s movie is not the first to denigrate a religious figure, nor will it be the last. The Last Temptation of Christ was protested vigorously. The difference is that Bacile indirectly and inadvertently inflamed people half a world away, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Embassy personnel.
No one was murdered over The Last Temptation of Christ. And the difference was that in this case the “people half a world away” are Muslims, with a tradition of reacting with violent rage to perceived insults.
Bacile’s movie does not excuse the rioting in Libya and Egypt, or the murder of Americans. That is deplorable. Unfortunately, people like Bacile and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who provoked international controversy by burning copies of the Quran, have a tremendous impact on religious tolerance and U.S. foreign policy.
Case in point: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones on Wednesday to ask him to stop promoting Bacile’s film. Clearly, the military considers the film a serious threat to national security. If the military takes it seriously, there should be consequences for putting American lives at risk.
Indeed. Those who murdered and rioted in Libya and Egypt should be found and prosecuted. Not the filmmakers.
While the First Amendment right to free expression is important, it is also important to remember that other countries and cultures do not have to understand or respect our right….
And apparently, neither do University of Pennsylvania professors. She is saying that Muslims do not have to respect the freedom speech, but non-Muslims have to respect Islamic blasphemy law. Why the inequity?