Writing at Tablet, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch argues that acceding to the "heckler's veto" is like wearing a huge "kick me" sign. Excerpt:
Neither prophylactic apologies nor self-censorship, it turns out, seem to mollify religious fanatics.
Not that many in America's political class seem to notice. It's a modern marvel to witness how thoroughly the country's journalists and commentators have, over the past decade, internalized false notions about Muslims, violence, and free expression. For instance, that depicting the historical figure of Muhammad is untenable blasphemy (see the Muhammad Image Archive for a repository of rejoinders); that the mere discussion about the proposed portrayal of a cartoon Muhammad bear-suit should be avoided at all costs in order to avoid a potential spasm of Mideast violence; and that retreating so abjectly from the defense of free speech will somehow make the world a safer place.
No, American writers, reporters, and artists won't touch the Prophet Muhammad with a 10-foot pair of kid gloves. Provocateurs who luxuriate in the death of God leave Allah the hell alone. Western countries without a First Amendment prosecute "blasphemers." Even free-speech heroes like Penn Jillette will acknowledge that his act won't tackle Islam "because we have families." An alt-weekly cartoonist felt impelled to go into the witness protection program in order to avoid retribution from murderous Islamists unsatisfied with her apology for proposing an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Meantime, professional free-speech organizations say little.
So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that now, after Tuesday night's savage murder of four Americans in Libya, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, a sector of the American commentariat is calling for the heads of … lunatic Florida Pastor Terry Jones and a bizarro-world filmmaker who goes by the names Sam Bacile and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.