The Garland shooting shouldn’t have opened a discussion on free speech, but rather a discussion of what to do about radical Islam
[dropcap size=small]N[/dropcap]early every article I read or interview I watch in which the Garland shooting is being discussed, the assertion that this event has opened a discussion on free speech is made. While many in the media and the population at large are having that discussion, it’s the wrong one to have, and it raises a very scary trend in our culture. The trend is to always look at what we did wrong when these attacks happen.
The discussions always first condemn the attacks and the attackers of course, followed by the platitudes about free speech and free expression, however then comes the ‘but.’ Of course Americans have the right to free speech but… We condemn these terrorists and the attacks but… I support Pamela Geller‘s right to hold that event but…
There is no ‘but’ when it comes to free speech.
Yes, with free speech comes consequences, however we don’t need a discussion on what kind of speech it was that resulted in violent reaction. The discussion we need to be having is what we’re going to do about the people reacting violently. What are we going to do to ensure that everyone is still free to say whatever they want without worrying that they might be killed for it?
Some say that the event was hateful, that they were inciting a reaction, or that Geller was irresponsible and stupid for hosting such an event. First of all, the event was not about slandering Islam, it was about bringing to light the fact that free speech is under attack in our society. An opinion which could not have been more pointedly made.
It was also a symbol that we value our freedom and won’t be intimidated. As for Geller being irresponsible, she knew the event could attract trouble and took precautions against it by having heavy security. The argument can even be made that Geller saved lives by drawing out the two jihadists, who traveled over 1000 miles to Garland Texas.
The 1st amendment prevents the government from passing laws that seek to abridge free speech, but free speech itself isn’t only under threat from government. If you would defend a person’s speech from government censorship, then you have to defend it against all threats of censorship.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, that is absolutely true, except in the case of violent consequences. Free speech must have, and does have, protection from violent consequences. To make the discussion about what was said that prompted such a reaction is ludicrous. Blaming Geller for hosting that event that lead to a shooting is like blaming a rape victim because she was wearing a short dress.
And if you do believe that then this event only raises one discussion, what to do about Islamic radicals?
That’s a question for later however, because first we need to get people to realize that is the discussion we need to be having and not one about free speech.
You don’t have to agree with what Pamela Geller or anyone at the event did or said, but you do need to resist the people trying to make that the focus. What was said isn’t important, and if it offends people… that doesn’t matter either.
What does matter is what we’re going to do.
Are we going to cower to the pressure of violent savages and check what we say with them first? Or are we going to show them that our commitment to freedom, in all its aspects, is stronger than their commitment to subjugation?