The explosive reactions to the incredibly bad movie this past week are of interest for several reasons. They are reminiscent of the reactions to some rather inane and poorly constructed cartoons several years ago. Muslims state the reason for the rioting as being reaction to portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed despite severe proscriptions against such portrayal in Islamic faith. If, indeed that is the case, I wonder why there are not similar reactions to other portrayals and satire directed toward Mohammed. For example, the fairly long running cartoon, Jesus and Mo (http://www.jesusandmo.net/ ) posts twice a week and has done so for quite a while. The two characters are Jesus and Mohammed. The two engage in drinking alcohol, speculating on the world, challenging each other’s dogma, and generally looking rather silly. Yet, there are no riots of which I am aware.
If I were a little more paranoid, I might speculate as to whether the true author and backer of this foolish movie might be a militant Muslim seeking to create havoc. After all, what better way to carry out Jihad then to have people kill each other, get the United States to attempt to assuage the rioters, and maybe kill a few US citizens. Clearly, the attack in Libya was not a spontaneous riot. Rioters do not bring RPGs and other high powered weapons to their demonstrations. That is why water cannons are often so effective in quelling the rioting.
More likely is that the leaders of militant groups wait for events to transpire that they can manipulate into upheaval. In this case, the upheaval probably just happened to occur around the same time as a different group carried out a well planned assault on the US offices. Given the presence of individuals such as Terry Jones in Florida and others of like mind, the militant leaders can always count on someone to set up a “keg of dynamite” for them to ignite. Yes, we cannot afford to limit the speech of those who set up the kegs. To do so would encourage the militants to get even more demanding and dynamic. Instead, we should continue to publicly state that such movies, burning of Korans, and other displays intended to insult persons of different ethnicity are disgusting, protected, but disgusting. Not at all unlike the despicable protests carried out at funerals of soldiers by those so called “Christians” are protected; or marches by KKK are protected; or burning the US flag is protected,; or painting a picture of Christ standing in urine is protected; or a whole encyclopedic panoply of disgusting speeches and speech related activities.
As long as I am at it, I should clarify that I do not support actions to limit speech that is deliberately inflammatory. That is in the same vein as limiting “hate” speech. I do believe that our government is not in error when it states publicly that such speech actions are not in keeping with national policy and maybe even in stating that the actions are poorly conceived. That is not an apology, it is a statement of fact.