The news hook for Muslim student Faria Mardhani’s not-so-rhetorical question is the story of the Egyptian activist (and MSNBC contributor) who was caught defacing pro-Israel posters in a New York subway station—an illegal act that led to…a de facto ban on messages that could conceivably offend anyone (anyone apparently defined as someone who’s Muslim).
Here’s the crux of Ms Mardhani’s argument:
The ad goes much further than only discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It sends an insulting message about Muslims worldwide….
Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appealed the ads, a District Court Judge legalized the advertisements on the basis of the First Amendment. The United States is one of the only democracies in the world that does not prohibit hate speech that incites animosity toward certain groups of people even though acts like this are clearly insulting [sic] the spirit of the First Amendment. The U.S. legal system’s refusal to accept this minimizes equality among Americans and reduces America’s sense of democracy.
If any group is targeted by hate speech, its dignity and its right to self-respect is not being protected by national law. These ads are framing Muslims and Americans as two groups with irreconcilable differences, categorizing Muslim Americans as non-Americans….
The decision that the United States must now make is whether hate speech like this should be legal. Do values of free speech override the values of equality and of preventing profound personal offense to any singular group?
Let’s answer Ms. Mardhani’s question in a way she no doubt didn’t consider. Courtesy of the indispensable Zombie, here are some messages for which no was arrested; which no one tried to deface; and because of which no one insisted on abridging the First Amendment (all images and captions are Zombie’s):
Anti-Semitic sign at the February 16, 2003 “anti-war” rally.
Sign at the March 20, 2004 “Global Day of Action” anti-war rally.
This man at the “Stop the U.S.-Israeli War” rally on August 12, 2006 wants the Nazi kikes to get out of Lebanon.
Justifying anti-Semitism at the June 5, 2004 march.
Another message at the June 5 event.
Anti-Israel protester at the rally preceding the June 5, 2004 march.
“The Final Victory is Ours!” say these anti-Israel protesters at the Bus 19 rally in Berkeley on January 16, 2005.
Equating the Star of David and the swastika at the “Stop the U.S.-Israeli War” rally on August 12, 2006.
In closing, Ms. Mardhani says:
We must not forget that the United States is first a democracy that promises to protect all of its citizens and treat them with equality.
Apparently NYU doesn’t offer remedial civics. No, ma’am, we are not “first a democracy.” We are first a republic and as such are protected by our Constitution that guarantees your right to take part in such loathsome demonstrations as illustrated above, should you choose; and our right to be offended and try to counter with more free speech. If this were a true democracy unguarded by the First Amendment, the majority could very well decide that your thoughts aren’t worth hearing. Or worse.