Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, September 13th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

According to Slate’s William Saletan, freely expressing your opinion can be an abuse of your right to freely express your opinion:

Mitt Romney says the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has betrayed “American values.” He’s wrong. The embassy is standing for American values. It’s Romney who’s betraying them.

How’s that, Sally?

The fight began brewing Tuesday morning as Egyptian protesters gathered outside the embassy. They were furious at a sophomoric American-made movie that ridiculed the prophet Mohammed. In response, the embassy issued a statement saying that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” The statement added: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

Quick observation.  If the universal right of free speech can be “abused,” then the universal right of free speech is not universal at all but has definite limits.  Saletan most emphatically agrees.

When you read the tweets alongside the initial statement, the message is clear. Free speech is a universal right. The Muslim-baiting movie is an abuse of that right. The embassy rejects the movie but defends free speech and condemns the invasion of its compound.

You keep using the word “universal,” Sally.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

At his press conference, Romney accused Obama of “having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech.” Romney claimed that the embassy had said, in his paraphrase, “We stand by our comments that suggest that there’s something wrong with the right of free speech.” This, too, was a Romney lie. The embassy had declared five times in writing that free speech was a universal right.

In other words, everyone has, or should have, the right to free speech.  But there are some things that you shouldn’t be allowed to say.

What made Romney’s statement and press conference disturbing, however, was his repeated use of the words sympathize and apology to conflate three issues the Cairo embassy had carefully separated: bigotry, free speech, and violence. The embassy had stipulated that expressions of bigotry, while wrong, were protected by freedom of speech and didn’t warrant retaliatory violence.

Then why did the embassy grovelingly apologize for them?

Romney, by accusing the embassy of “sympathizing with those who had breached” the compound, equated moral criticism of the Mohammed movie with support for violence. In so doing, Romney embraced the illiberal Islamist mindset that led to the embassy invasion: To declare a movie offensive is to authorize its suppression.

Um..what?!!  Project much, Sally?  It was the embassy that declared that movie “offensive,” idiot.  Why else would they have apologized for it and prattled on about some alleged hurt feelings Muslims may or may not have actually had?

“The Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles,” Romney asserted at the press conference. “It’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. … An apology for America’s values is never the right course.” Lest anyone miss his buzzwords, Romney called the embassy’s comments “a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.”

One of the foremost of which is basically unrestricted freedom of speech.

What, exactly, does Romney mean by “American values”? The embassy never apologized for free speech or diplomatic sovereignty. The only American offense it criticized was the movie’s “bigotry” and “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” Does Romney regard this criticism as an “apology for American values”? Is bigotry an American value? Is it weak or un-American to repudiate slurs against Muslims?

National Review will have none of “yes, but” attitudes like Sally’s.

Nobody in the U.S. government, least of all the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acting in his official capacity, should be calling Terry Jones or any other American citizen about the Mohammed spoof. Not only does that elevate Jones to some sort of semi-official status, but spoofs of deities are entirely within our rights and absolutely no business of the government’s. The U.S. government should not be taking an official position on the Mohammed spoof.  It is entirely outside the official competence of United States military to be calling private citizens asking them be quiet, especially when they are exercising a constitutional right. Offending people is not an incitement to violence. Otherwise I could get everyone who wears a Che Guevara t-shirt brought up on charges of incitement. 

Do I enjoy it when some work of “art,” some movie or some television show blasphemes Jesus Christ or insults and belittles Christians?  Of course not.  But unlike adherents of the Islamic religion, I’ve figured out a civilized way to deal with it.  I simply don’t patronize or stop patronizing those businesses who produce or support such works.

Conversely, if a work of art exalts Christ or displays Christians as they truly are, that work of art, whatever it is, will receive whatever support I can give it.  So what William Saletan is essentially saying here is that speech should be suppressed if someone anywhere is angry enough about that speech to kill people and burn things.

Saletan’s mindset basiclly gives the savages editorial control over all forms of expression everywhere which means that my opinions must perfectly accord with theirs or my expression of my opinion is an “abuse” of free speech.  I don’t know if Saletan realizes this or not but that is precisely why so many of us made a point of patronizing Chick-fil-A’s during that recent controversy.

Most Americans really hate being told what opinions we may or may not hold. 

Sally?  Is it an American value to completely misinterpret what Mitt Romney said in order to smear him as the un-American in this controversy?  Is it an American value to criticize an opinion that an American is entitled to express, what with the right to freedom of speech being universal and an American value and all?

Are you so worried about how King Putt’s fecklessness, uselessness and incompetence will affect his reelection chances that you would deliberately distort Romney’s clear meaning the way you have here?  This is the United States and, for now, Romney has a right to say these things, you have a right to make an idiot of yourself criticizing them and I have the right to say this.

Stick a sock in it, jackass. 

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer.

“The worst line in the clip you showed was this where she said there are different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech. Why is she engaging in a disquisition on free speech with the mob? The implication here that, perhaps the mob is right, that we ought to be suppressing anything that offends Islam, this is a nation where somebody puts a crucifix in bottle of urine and it ends up in a museum. We allow all kind of expression. But perhaps we ought to make an exception in the case of Islam. This is absurd. She ought to be speaking to the heads of state, to the State Department equivalents in other states and saying ‘You speak to your mob and talk to them and defend the embassy.’ This is return to statement a few days ago, I think and they are totally in meltdown at the State Department.”

11 Comments to TAUTOLOGY

David Fischler
September 13, 2012

Once upon a time, I was a liberal–a Hubert Humphrey liberal, a Scoop Jackson liberal. I took all that stuff about the First Amendment being one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments seriously, and believed that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition our government for redress of grievances were what made America great.

Over the years, however, liberalism abandoned its historic commitment to our foundational freedoms, and threw in its lot with those who hate this country and all it stands for. William Saletan, and others of his ilk now making excuses for barbarians, and agreeing with them that free expression should be limited by the heckler’s veto, are sterling examples of what liberalism has become.

September 13, 2012

“King Putt” presumably refers to Obama and his total (and DELIBERATE!!) neglect of the affairs of the USA in favour of golfing. Am I correct, Mr. Christopher Johnson? [After all, there are foreign readers of your Weblog…]

Christopher Johnson
September 13, 2012

Pretty much, Sasha. The line’s not mine. I first saw it here.

Allen Lewis
September 13, 2012

Saletan used to write some pretty perspicacious stuff back in the early days of Slate Magazine. But, alas!, Slate became more and more a haven for Elitist writers and Hollywood gadflies.

Too bad, it was a cutting-edge journal at one time. It is now just another liberal soapbox.

September 13, 2012

Let me get this straight. The State Department, after Mitt Romney’s criticism of the Embassy statement, said that it was not authorized, did not represent the position of the State Department, and took it off the web. But this fool thinks that Romney was wrong to say the same thing State said the next day. It’s a pity to see people who used to have good minds lose them.

September 13, 2012

Slaten: Contrast Piss Christ or Dung Madonna with this Mohammed video.

Why are the first artistic expressions protected by the FRree Speech privisions while the other is not?

Answer: because you have to make allowances for Barbarians. IN other words you must SUBMIT or ISLAM to their right to limit your freedoms!


September 13, 2012

How about if we tell the Muslims they are free to write or film things that denigrate non-Muslims, or Muslims of the wrong sect? Oh, wait. They do that all the time.

And let’s see if the rogue state department apology-writer gets fired within the next day or two. If not, he or she was not rogue at all.

[…] here read the brilliant rest.  As I indicated in my post yesterday, which may be read here, the […]

Creedal Episcopalian
September 14, 2012

As I recall, Slate’s trip to the dark side didn’t take very long. I have amazement due to the fact that they are still publishing.

September 14, 2012

JM, if I have it right, the “rogues” were the embassy’s chief information officer and deputy staff in charge. Career diplomats, and State is stuffed with such people. Fairly often our missions do apologetics for the host culture rather than apologetics for ours. Sadly, Amb. Smith in Libya was very capable according to all accounts.

September 14, 2012

Appeasement *never* works. And, no one will *ever* take away my right of free speech.

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