Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

Ken AshfordConstitution, Republicans, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Dateline Missouri:

Saying the nation’s symbol "deserves more respect than the protest message of some liberal hippie," a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced a bill legalizing the use of force to stop someone from desecrating the American flag.

Republican Rep. Sam Gaskill, a former fighter pilot in Vietnam, defended his bill yesterday, insisting the measure would prevent the defilement of an important symbol rather than promote violence.

"You should be able to take hold of the flag and take it off the ground and rescue it," Gaskill said. "If the guy doesn’t want to let go of it or he swings back then the person ought to fight back."

When asked if the bill would allow someone to take aggressive action against another person, Gaskill said: "I’m sure they could."

That’s right.  A Missouri legislator wants citizens to be able to shoot someone who is exercising constitutionally-protected speech.

It’s funny/ironic that this is happening as conservatives are tsk-tsking Muslims in Europe, who are upset by the depiction (read: desecration) of Mohammad in newspaper cartoons. 

To be sure, the violent reaction to the cartoons (now with a death toll) by radical Muslims is way over the top, and deserves to be condemned.  But according to people like Gaskell, the "American" way is legalize violent responses to offensive free speech.  Go figure.

Publius, by the way, hones in on the right blogosphere, who collectively is covering the "cartoon jihad" story to an excited and breathless degree that I have rarely seen, even for them.  I agree wholeheartedly with this:

While I’ve obviously been disturbed by the fundamentalist riots, I’ve also been disturbed at the reaction in certain parts of the right blogosphere – and fascinated. For instance, although Michelle Malkin and LGF (bastions of tolerant Western liberalism that they are) have dozens of angry posts on the “cartoon jihads,” you get the sense that they’re not so much angry as giddy about their free pass to bash Islam. These are subjective calls obviously, but if you read their February archives, you get the sense that something more is going on here than defending press freedom. For them, it seems like press freedom is being used as a pretext for unleashing more deeply-felt prejudices.

…They just seem too excited about the whole thing – and they seem to be relishing their window to say some offensive things. Here’s Malkin:

Blogger E.L. Core e-mailed me with an excellent idea for a Muhammad Cartoons "Blogburst": Hi, Michelle. . . . Maybe you could invite other bloggers to send you a link to their cartoon blog entry, and we could all start linking to them? Ok. Let’s do it. If you’ve posted some or all of the forbidden Muhammad cartoons on your blog in support of Denmark and the Jyllands-Posten, send a track back or e-mail me your link. It’ll actually be a very useful road map for the enormous number of Internet users around the world who are trying to find the cartoons (just check Technorati and you’ll see what I’m talking about). I’ll get started with a few right now and keep adding as many links to this list as humanly possible.

And here are some recent post titles from LGF in February: “Religion of Peace Gets Busy,” “Scenes of Peace and Tolerance,” “Danish Queen: ‘We Have To Show Our Opposition to Islam,’” “Get Yer Danish Cartoons Here,” “Religion of Tolerance,” “The Infidel Bloggers Alliance Mohammed Cartoon Contest.”

Like Publius, I suspect that the cartoon story is merely an invitation to Muslim-bash, rather than a principled stand for freedom of the press.

UPDATE:  Doghouse Riley adds:

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but aren’t the people in this country most incensed about Muslims rioting over media portrayals the same ones who were incensed last year that Newsweek published something that incited Muslims to riot?

Why, yes.  Here’s Michelle Malkin:

Newsweek has blood on its hands. Blood on its desks.