altI find the number of people willing to censor offensive speech in the wake of the anti-Islam film, and the reaction that it has provoked, disturbing. One example is this USA Today op-ed, written by a professor of religious studies, arguing that “Sam Bacile” (Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), who is said to be responsible for the film, should be arrested. I assume that this view is not widespread among prominent American commentators, but the idea that the U.S. should alter its speech regime is rather prominent abroad. As a couple of quick examples (and there are many more), one Pakistani senator claims to have spoken to Interpol’s secretary general “to enact international law to stop anti Islam material being projected on the Internet”; and a Turkish columnist writes that “the committing of blasphemous acts, be it cartoons, a film or what so ever, [is] not implicit in the right to express one’s self freely.” But the primary reason I write this post is because of the great number of intelligent people I’ve interacted with on social media or by email who feel that arrest or censorship is an appropriate response in this case.

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
14th September 2012 - Gunpowder & Lead

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