I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the answer is most definitely yes. His column today, aside from being written in his usual mouth-breathing style, declares that free speech is dangerous. Some excerpts:
Last September, a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons featuring the prophet Muhammad, a key figure in the Muslim faith. A controversy arose not because these cartoons depicted violent and offensive stereotypes (though they did), but because they depicted the prophet, period.
Well, he’s right about the “depicted the prophet” bit, but I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves whether the cartoons depict “violent and offensive stereotypes.”
I’m a big free speech supporter. I believe 100 percent that more people have died because of a lack of free speech than because of an overabundance of free speech. But this isn’t just about free speech; this is about worldwide culture wars. This is about global stability.
There’s a quotation around, often attributed to Ben Franklin, that those who will give up essential liberty for temporary security will lose both and deserve neither. That’s the path you’re treading on here, Gabe. You’re poposing that the limit of speech freedoms isn’t threats, libel, slander, “fighting words” or incitement; no, in Gabe-world, the limit is “offense”. That doesn’t wash, you idiot. Having to see and hear things that are offensive is just one of the small annoyances that comes along with freedom, and with being part of the larger global community. I have very few sensitivities, but creeping statism sure offends my sensibilities, if I threaten to kill a few people (and perhaps actually do so) while shouting will that get the statists to shut up? Would I be justified in doing so or would you call me a sociopath and a murderer? I’m going to guess the latter, and you’d be goddamn right .
I offend people every week. I go out of my way to do it. But no one has ever died because of something I’ve said. The news outlets that published the cartoons had every right to do so. But they should have exercised better judgment and decided not to.
Muslims make up 20 percent of the world’s population. With the global political climate being what it is today, we can’t afford to piss off that many people.
I know when I was editing the Commentator, the first thought in my mind was “will some idiot with no sense of humor be offended by this?” If the answer was yes, I published it. If the answer was no, I reworked it until the answer was yes and then published it. The blame for violent reaction falls upon those who react violently, not those who publish newspapers. The blame for this past week’s violence falls not on a few very frightened Danes, but rather on the humorless fools burning down embassies. Being offended is one thing, using that as an excuse to cause violence and death is quite another. The appropriate response to offensive speech is, well, more speech, not self-censorship for fear of violent reprisal.
UPDATE: Jaques Chirac can go to hell.
UPDATE II: Bush 43 and King Abdullah can go to hell too.
I feel very strongly about this: The press has no responsibility to consider who will be offended by publication of a particular item. None. At all. Good, insightful, incisive points are often quite offensive to their targets and it is the duty of any free press to put those forward where they see fit regardless of which nut-job flips out. “Thoughtful about others” means the same thing as PC. The politically correct trend, while often well-intentioned, is dangerous, in my view, to a free exchange of ideas. If I want to argue that “it” is a perfectly servicable non-gendered pronoun in English, or print cartoons about Zombie Jesus (back from the dead to forgive your sins and EAT YOUR BRAIN), or call a bunch of war protesters “Fucking Racists”, that’s my right. Aside from actual threats, fighting words, and incitement (such as yelling “fire” when there is no fire in a crowded theatre), there is no limit to what can be published, nor should there be. Again, if someone is offended, well, okay, fine, and anyone should be free to publish some other piece of speech counter to mine. The onus is not upon publishers to keep people from being offended, but on the offended to respond in a proportional and appropriate manner.