Embassy Attacks

'When Censorship Makes Sense,' and Other Journalistic Responses to Hecklers Trying to Veto a YouTube Film Trailer

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Can't imagine this happening in America, can you?

We have previously noted in this space the alarmingly restrictive free-speech concepts recently expressed by former Joint Chiefs of Staff employee Sarah Chayes, University of Pennsylvania Assistant Religious Studies Professor Anthea Butler, and a host of other government/media types. Let's catch up on some other commentary:

Tim Wu, The New Republic, "When Censorship Makes Sense: How YouTube Should Police Hate Speech":

A better course would be to try to create a process that relies on a community, either of regional experts or the serious users of YouTube. Community members would (as they do now) flag dangerous or illegal videos for deletion. Google would decide the easy cases itself, and turn the hard cases over to the community, which would aim for a rough consensus. Such a system would be an early-warning signal that might have prevented riots in the first place.

Steven Kurlander, Hernando Today, "Time to reset boundaries of free speech":

Given the known consequences, it's time to ban garbage that mocks the God of a billion people and purposefully incites the worst religious passions. It's time the Supreme Court reconsidered whether such fiery speech should indeed be protected.

Thomas Garrett, The Baxter Bulletin, "'Movie' makers responsible for outrage, deaths":

As freedom of speech goes, Klein and Nakoula have done the equivalent of shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater to create panic, which actually is not constitutionally protected as free speech. With such a precious freedom comes great responsibility. Expressing ideas, dissent, beliefs — even ones most people would find distasteful and hateful — is a fundamental freedom in America.

But, to paraphrase an old saying, the freedom for your fist ends at the tip of my nose. These two men slammed their video fist solidly into the face of Muslims everywhere. It also slammed into the faces of Christians, Jews, people of many other faiths and beliefs, and people of no faith.

Dan K. Thomasson, Winter Haven News Chief, "Cost of free speech often higher than we like":

The Internet has been both bad and good for free speech, breaking down governmental barriers and providing information that hundreds of millions might otherwise never receive. At the same time, it has turned the big U.S. companies that mainly operate on it into First Amendment arbiters with far more judgmental input on these matters than governments have.

We've been writing about this issue for decades. Here, for example, is Jonathan Rauch's great April 1993 piece "The Truth Hurts: The Humanitarian Threat to Free Inquiry."