Jacob Sullum on Obama's Muddled Defense of Free Speech

"We don’t think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression," a Muslim scholar recently told The New York Times, explaining the unrest over The Innocence of Muslims. "We think it is an offense against our rights." This notion of rights, says Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, cannot be reconciled with the classical liberal tradition of free inquiry and free expression. But instead of saying that plainly in his speech at the U.N. last week, President Obama delivered a muddled message, mixing a defense of free speech with an implicit endorsement of expectations that threaten to destroy it.


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