In Defense Of Pastor Terry Jones
Terry Jones, the pastor who gets a lot of media attention for attempting to anger Muslims by burning the Koran (among other things, is an idiot. He is a hateful bigot.
That being said, some are now blaming him for attacks on US embassies in Egypt and Libya by Islamists, saying that it is his provocative antics which inspired them and caused the death of Americans there up to and including the death by suffocation of one of our ambassadors. Some are even calling for him to be silenced.
Did Jones’ antics inspire the Islamists to attack? Probably, not that their hatred for America started when his antics began getting media attention. But does that matter? Not really.
Blaming Jones for the violence in the middle east means blaming free speech. If we hold Jones responsible for the atrocities there, we are saying with our actions that speech which is provocative or controversial is not protected.
Blaming Jones, or anyone whose who has ever done or said anything Muslims find offensive, is like blaming John F. Kennedy for whatever it was he did that inspired Lee Harvey Oswald to murder him, or blaming Gabbie Giffords for whatever it was that set Jared Loughner on his path toward shooting her.
In a free society we tolerate free speech, and when others attempt to silence that speech with violence and terror, they are the ones at fault. Not the speaker. And we do tolerate all manner of hateful speech in America. The Ku Klux Klan is allowed to hold rallies and marches. White supremacists are allowed to preach their hate in online forums. All manner of political extremists are allowed to organize their followers. We do that not because we like these people or what they stand for, but because the litmus test for free speech is whether or not we allow the most controversial sorts of speech.
The first amendment does not exist to protect conversations about the weather.
Tolerance is a two way speech. If Muslims want tolerance for their religion, they must tolerate the fact that others will be critical of that religion.Tags: egypt, libya, terry jones