Thomas Jefferson once said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. He was right. However, what he probably never expected was that free speech would be under attack from dhimmitude clowns like Sarah Chayes, individuals who would willingly shackle and gag themselves before bowing to Islamic slave masters, if it provided them with a little temporary security. They would rather appease tyrants than fight for God-given natural rights. But then again, these things are to be expected, since even the Obama administration has repeatedly stood behind the assertion that the current round of Mideast violence is about “a film.”
Read on, as The Los Angeles Times allows itself to become an intellectual saboteur of free speech:
In one of the most famous 1st Amendment cases in U.S. history, Schenck vs. United States, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. established that the right to free speech in the United States is not unlimited. “The most stringent protection,” he wrote on behalf of a unanimous court, “would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”
Holmes’ test — that words are not protected if their nature and circumstances create a “clear and present danger” of harm — has since been tightened. But even under the more restrictive current standard, “Innocence of Muslims,” the film whose video trailer indirectly led to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens among others, is not, arguably, free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution and the values it enshrines.
Who defines what “falsely shouting fire in a theater” is? To Ms. Chayes, it is the imams and clerics, dictators and despots — who stone women, execute gay people, advocate on behalf of “honor killings,” and seek to spread the “behead those who insult Islam” mentality like a virus.
The film “Innocence of Muslims” did not lead to the death of Christopher Stevens in any way. Period. If I want to make a “stick figure Mohammad” flip book tonight and post it online, whereas the “prophet” pole vaults into the arms of his many wives, I have every right to do so. If a Pakistani cleric issues a fatwa on me because I dared to depict Mohammad (again, as a stick figure), and people die because of it, then fault lies with the murderous sub-humans who committed the crime, and the insecure, troubled culture that produced them. Fatwas and death threats aimed at innocent people practicing their right to free speech are symptoms of a disease — a culture that is incompatible with freedom and liberty and the pillars of Western Civilization.
The Los Angeles Times refuses to acknowledge reality, and so they find themselves betraying the keystone to our Constitution.
Much 1st Amendment jurisprudence concerns speech explicitly advocating violence, such as calls to resist arrest, or videos explaining bomb-making techniques. But words don’t have to urge people to commit violence in order to be subject to limits … “If the result is violence, and that violence was intended, then it meets the standard,” [says Anthony Lewis].
While it’s not surprising that The Los Angeles Times thinks it should be the judge, jury and executioner for mind crimes, it’s even more frightening that they would abdicate the setting of the limits of free speech to religious fanatics, whose litmus test for committing violence is whatever they deem it to be at any given moment.
Ms. Chayes ultimately speaks for herself, but her misdiagnosis of what ails the Middle East is shared by many on the left. The current violence in the region, for example, has exposed the Obama administration’s fecklessness in the face of true evil. Its inability to accurately describe the challenges we face overseas is downright scary. However, what is even worse is that the one industry that should be fighting to safeguard our First Amendment rights now lends credence to saboteurs seeking to curtail them.