Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

George Washington


One of the interesting fall outs of the rampages in Cairo and Benghazi is the calls by some on the Left for jailing people for exercising freedom of speech.  Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy blog pointed this out yesterday:

That’s what MSBNC contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch, the University of Pennsylvania’s Prof. Anthea Butler (Religious Studies), and of course the Egyptian government argue with regard to the movie that mocks Mohammed:

Prof. Butler: “Good Morning. How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now.When Americans die because you are stupid…” “And yes, I know we have First Amendment rights,but if you don’t understand the Religion you hate, STFU about it. Yes, I am ticked off.” “And people do go to jail for speech. First Amendment doesn’t cover EVERYTHING a PERSON says.” “[T]he murder of the Ambassador and the employees is wrong, wrong. But Bacile will have to face his actions which he had freedom[.]”

Mike Barnicle: “Given this supposed minister’s role in last year’s riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where, not yet nailed down, but at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact.”

Donny Deutsch: “I was thinking the same thing, yeah.”

In a way this is an unsurprising development.  The Left in this country, with honorable exceptions, has not been overly fond of the concept of free speech for some time.  Speech codes seeking to hamper the free speech rights of conservatives and Christians have been a staple at many colleges and universities for the past twenty years.  Conservative speakers are routinely shouted down when they speak on campuses.  The recent attack on Chik-Fil-A by the Mayors of Boston and Chicago was merely the latest manifestation of the willingness of many on the Left to use government power to suppress views they hate.

This of course is deeply un-American.  The Founding Fathers valued freedom of speech above all freedoms except for freedom of religion.  It is no accident that the First Amendment gives pride of place to freedom of religion and speech:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Elections come and go, but the increasing intolerance of many on the Left in this country for the freedom of those who oppose them, bodes ill for this land.


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. It is ironic and oxymoronic that the liberal left defends the very thing – radical Islam – whose adherents would slay them on sight. They prune themselves, whether by sterile sexual relationships or by inviting their own execution. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

  2. “it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact.”

    Justice is predicated on intent. If Bacile intended to incite the murder of the ambassador, then he is guilty of complicity. The prosecutor would have to prove conspiracy or intent to commit murder or an act of war. Again, there is the matter of the thought police. How could the prosecutor determine what any person has thought or is thinking unless the prosecutor owned the other person’s soul? Slavery starts with the denial of the other person, made in the image of God, and his freedom to not incriminate himself, especially if he is innocent of the charges, as inscribed in our Fifth Amendment. Citizens have become too indifferent to their own freedom, so that they will lose freedom by not recognizing it in others.

    No one can own my soul because God created my soul for me. Those who would take my life to own my soul, must realize that when a person takes my life to own my soul, he forfeits his own immortal soul.

  3. It’s the same as always– free speech, unless someone is offended. Measured in terms of damage, not outrage. (see also: “protests” that involve burning things, flipping cars) I’ve seen people compare this to incitement to riot, or yelling fire in a theater.

    Sorry, no, saying that Mohammad slept with a bunch of women (since I’m not going to watch the youtube video, and that’s the only specific complaint I’ve seen offered) isn’t either of those things.

  4. The video is so startling to me, I can’t believe it is happening. Can we all say lemmings!!
    Poor education and religious formation have sown a blight on our country. Bon Appetite!!

  5. I will bet everyone of those individuals who signed the petition to silence the speech of Beck and other conservatives will begin to remember what, in fact, they did. The whole purpose of the video was to get people to think and it worked.

    America is the only sovereign nation on the globe whose founding principles guarantee the individual sovereign person FREEDOM.

  6. Re: Mary De Voe

    That is why the HHS mandate has been changed—-RIGHT??? They have had adequate time to realize their mistake but haven’t offered to correct it. Your hope that these folks will see their mistakes is laudable. I’m from Missouri and they have to show me. Freedom of religion and speech are being attacked and one only need smell the coffee to realize it!!

  7. “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire

    So I guess the left will defend the Catholic Church if we are so offended by Obama care that we start rioting in the streets and killing people?

  8. Don, the interesting thing is that this actually seems to be “free speech for thee, but not for me”. I can’t think of a historical parellel.

  9. There were Japanese and Germans placed in concentration camps by the U. S. government. Do we really think that this bunch of thugs cares about a few limits on free speech for Catholics. I doubt it.

  10. Ray wrote, “There were Japanese and Germans placed in concentration camps by the U. S. government. Do we really think that this bunch of thugs cares about a few limits on free speech for Catholics. I doubt it.”

    If we carried this over as an exact analogy, then it wouldn’t be Catholics or other orthodox Christians who would be jailed, but Muslims. We have been at war with Islam sine 630 AD. Yesterday was the celebration of the Holy Name of Mary when in 1683 King John III Sobieski of Poland invoked her name to defend Vienna, Austria against the Muslim hordes of the Ottoman Empire. Remeber that at the time Japanese and Germans in the US were placed in camps, we were at war against Japan and Germany. While internment in hindsight was wrong, if the analogy were to be carried forward, it would be Muslims who should be interred, and history shows what happens when otherwise is the case.

    Disclaimer: I am not advocating for internment of Muslims. What I am saying is that today’s society is so topsy-turvy that the government recognies the enemies of Christendom as friends and condemns the adherents of Christianity as enemies. Where is good King John Sobieski of Poland when we need him!

  11. The name of the good king for us is Benedict, our current Pontiff. What rights have our brother Americans of the Muslim persuasion have been taken away. The Catholics rights are presently being poached( if only bit by small bit). During that time during the 1600’s the Europeans had begun losing their Catholic faith. The Good King from Poland was a stalwart Catholic and it was his faith that allowed for his success.

  12. There is no question that the First Amendment is under attack today. But while it is indeed appalling that so many Americans would so readily sign a petition to take away rights guaranteed by the Constitution, I do have to wonder how many people the video team approached who held firm and refused to sign for that very reason. We only see about 4-1/2 minutes of how long a tape? It is obvious by the way they jump around between petitioners that the tape has been edited. Did none of those approached refuse to sign? Or did 99% refuse? It’s easy to “prove” your point when you only include the data supporting it, but it’s not necessarily honest. We should always be careful lest we find ourselves guilty of the same tactics we abhor in others.

  13. I think the point of the tape Mike was not how many people signed the petition but that those who signed, while they were seeking to take freedom of speech from others, blithely affirmed their support for free speech. Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living and that was the tragic element in this humorous video.

  14. “Yesterday, was the celebration of the Holy Name of Mary when in 1683 King John III Sobieski of Poland invoked her name to defend Vienna, Austria against the Muslim hordes of the Ottoman Empire.”

    Thank you for remembering, Paul, and I do hope you regain your health and strength. King John Sobieski mustered the fighting men to save Vienna. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells that King John Sobieski’s baker invented the bagel, trying to make the bread look like the stirrups on John Sobieski’s saddle. A new and wonderful way to eat bagels.

    Where is King John Sobieski today? King John cavorts with Lech Walesa and Gov. Mitt Romney.

    Tomorrow is the Exaltation of the Cross.

  15. Some people will sign anything.
    Reminds me of the people at a greenie gathering, who were raising a petition to ban Di-hydrogen Oxide, because it kills people if you immerse yourself in it, it can kill if you ingest too much of it, babies drown in it etc. etc.
    Almost everyone approached, signed to ban it.

    Di-hydrogen Oxide = H 2 O = water.

    What a bunch of chumps.

  16. Just had some of your islander folks visit for 18 days. They are from Timaru. We love you folks down under but you only have thousands of whackos. When we have an equivalent percentage here in the states it is millions. It is easy to disavow a few but here the numbers are much larger. Stay with us brother and keep up the good fight with your cousins in the states. Thanks for being interested in our wayward form of democracy.

  17. Mike-
    it doesn’t matter that some folks hopefully didn’t sign, other than in a it-could-be-worse, everyone-could-be-lining-up-to-sign way.

    It’s a bit like going “Hey, Libya isn’t so bad– over 99% of them were NOT involved in beating our ambassador to death!”

  18. Slight thread drift…I named my first son John, in part, because of King John Sobieski. You didn’t want to mess with the Polish Husaria. There is supposed to be a movie coming out in October that is about the events of the Siege of Vienna (Victoria). Don’t hold me to that, as it was something I read on the Internet (YouTube). It has been planned for a long time.

    The Left is hypocritical and obnoxious. Mike Barnicle was suspended from his job at the Boston Globe (or fired from it) because of plagarism. The rest of that bunch is beneath contempt.

    Should Obumbler abscond with the election, I will look into moving my family to Poland.
    No Democrat Party, no radical Muslims, they are not destroying their currency and Catholics are the majority.

  19. “How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? … I know we have First Amendment
    rights, but if you don’t understand the religion you hate, STFU about it. Yes, I am ticked

    Why do I get the feeling that Professor Butler is a lot more complacent when the object
    of some ‘artist’s’ ridicule is not Islam, but rather Christianity? Was she this upset when
    Andres Serrano was publicizing his photo “Piss Christ”, which shows a crucifix submerged
    in urine? Where was her outrage when Chris Ofili received federal dollars to exhibit his
    work at the Brooklyn Museum of Art? One of his works depicted the Virgin Mary using
    elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines. The New York art world and
    academia in general both praised the works, snickered at the objections of Christians,
    and reminded everyone of the primacy of the First Amendment.

    If Ms. Butler doesn’t have similar outrage for Messrs. Serrano and Ofili, perhaps she
    should take some deep breaths, review her copy of the Constitution, and then ‘STFU’.

  20. Ray.
    6.54 pm.
    Thanks for your kind remarks. Pleased to be with you.

    “.Just had some of your islander folks visit for 18 days. They are from Timaru”

    Islanders? we call the people from Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Vanuatu etc. Islanders.-)
    Still, NZ in relation to the US is small in land mass, so fair enough.
    Timaru is a port town on the east coast of the South Island, and I’m sure your friends said they were Mainlanders. I’m from the North Island, and we do have a North/South rivalry, particularly in the game of rugby at this time of year. 🙂

  21. Cardinal Dolan CNSNEWS.com Go check out what The good Cardinal is worried about. I guess I am not really a Catholic after all. Muslim? Islam? WHATEVER!

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