Innocence of Muslims, the film by the Egyptian born American citizen Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, exposes again that delicate balance in this country between free speech and how far a government should go to protect that right. We’ve confronted the question before, for example, when the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan were given police escorts for their parades.
Lawrence Rosenthal, a profession at Chapman University’s School of Law puts the issue this way.
…Nakoula’s case invites scrutiny because the free speech he exercised with the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” has had such far-reaching and violent implications. (Yahoo.news, 9/18/12)
Of course, the birth of our nation was rife with the exercise of free speech and its concomitantly violent implications. When our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence they became traitors under English law and fomented the American Revolution.
Knowing the importance of allowing ideas to be freely expressed, these same men gave us a Constitution which extends that freedom even to hate speech. Not every word we utter is protected but most words are and while individual instances may shock personal sensibilities, extreme speech defines the outer limits of our rights.
As a country, we’ve struggled to help new nations form their democracies, but it’s difficult to inculcate an understanding of the system’s inherit contradictory values: loyalty to a community and the rights of the individual. We, too, struggle with that balance, as we did during the Joseph McCarthy years; but so far we’ve managed to right ourselves each time. At the heart of that balance is inclusiveness, a strength which allows our country to tolerate diversity and grow as a humane nation.
To those who are outraged by Nakoula’s film, I wish to say I regret the insult; but bad taste is not a crime in our country. I would nor more choose to see him punished or go unprotected by our government than I would chose to burn my flag.
(Courtesyof http://www.threefingersofpolitics )