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The media’s struggle to understand free speech

The media’s struggle to understand free speech

The free speech vs. provocation misnomer wreaks havoc on the fourth estate

Sunday, a couple of wanna-be jihadists‘ attempt to silence free speech at a “draw Mohammad” event were foiled. The Garland tragedy provided many causes for concern. But for the authors of this Washington Post article… well, they’re most put off by the rudeness of Pamela Geller and event organizers who (gasp!)… haven’t apologized?

Now, one would think members of the media, particularly media employed by a legacy establishment such as the Washington Post, would applaud those who stand firm against the enemies of free speech. Alas…

Sadly, the headline isn’t the worst part of the article published late yesterday evening.

Sandhya Somashekhar, the article’s author went so far as to suggest the event was intentionally designed to “bait” Mohammad image loyalists. “If the contest was intended as bait, it worked,” she wrote. Somashekhar also attempted to draw a parallel between the always provocative Pamela Geller and the fact that tension in the local Muslim community is quite high… even though the shooters began their fatal trek in Phoenix, Arizona, according to police.

In spite of the headline, the article denies the reader any reason why an apology is the presumed and appropriate course of action for Geller and crew.

The Washington Post was not alone in their “how dare you offend and provoke people with your free speech!!” fauxrage.

Yesterday, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota interviewed Pamela Geller. An apparently confused Camerota summed up the free speech vs. provocation misnomer when she said, “there’s a fine line between freedom of speech and being intentionally incendiary and provocative.”

If you’re in the mood for a CNN smack down, Geller did a bang-up job:

We posed the following to Ms. Camerota, though we’ve yet to receive a response:

Haroon Moghul, also of CNN penned a piece entitled, “Don’t be fooled by Pamela Geller” in which he condemns Geller’s actions on what amounts to a school yard unspoken understanding, “if you provoke someone meaner than you, you deserve what you get.”

But maybe making this about Islam prevents people from seeing the bigger picture here, the reason American Muslims are rightly and justifiably offended by Gellar and her ilk: Should white activists line up to drop the n-word “to support American values” of free speech? Or perhaps march into Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore waving Confederate flags? You have every right to. But should you?

And should you be surprised if a few people react violently, even if that violence is unacceptable? (Which it is.) What if you kept doing it, over and over again? For what possible reason would you want to?

Don’t let Pamela Geller fool you. She might use an American value to defend her work, but it’s merely a means to an end, and you won’t like where she’s taking us.

But when the politically correct crowd dresses up to play ‘journalist’ this — the notion that the provocative is vile — is the result. Confusing distasteful speech with a perceived right not to be offended is the root of this whole misnomer though; one that’s foundational to the furtherance of modern American Progressivism, but has little to do with actual progress.

What they all fail to grasp is that free speech is simply that, free.

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2nd Ammendment Mother | May 5, 2015 at 6:50 pm

If anyone had any concerns about the sad state of the media, the reaction to Garland should have crystallized things for you. If only this were the only topic that gets sanitized for your consumption.

Yet the “protesters” are protected in their speech/rioting in Ferguson, NYC, Baltimore, and everywhere else.

“What do we want? Dead cops. When we do want them? Now.”

“No justice, no peace.”

Yet they are applauded for exercising their right to protest and given a pass for their supposed free speech. Then you realize that there are specific words in our language that only certain races can say. Then you realize that certain races, religions, and people with differing sexual orientations can do and say what they want with zero retribution or condemnation from the media or political figures.

But then you realize that you aren’t part of those groups, and if you speak out against them by using your free speech that you may be putting your life, your family’s life, and your entire livelihood in jeopardy.

My actions as a Christian, white, male are scrutinized under a microscope. Everything I do or say can and will be used against me in the court of public opinion. If I am physically, financially, or mentally harmed as a result of my words, it is my own fault for saying them, and the “true” victims are those that my words offended.

Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness? I feel enslaved by how I look and what I say.

    ss396 in reply to Mr. Izz. | May 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Which, by the way, resulted in dead cops. I don’t recall a lot of media mourning about that one.

scooterjay | May 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

America is aware of the BS being pushed by the media and is fighting back… thru the comments on the Yahoo article where they blame Geller.
Americans….surprising ourselves for 200 years!


Yeah, sure. Here’s my middle finger.

Driving home I unplugged my kindle from the car radio and MPR came on. Two men were discussing this one was from Hamline University in Minnesota. The two Pseudo-Intellectuals pretended like they were so reluctant to say it – but managed to twist out how the shooting in Texas was the fault of the organizers of the event. I could only think our failed educational system has finally made it all the way to this. Not only are todays schools producing brain dead idiots, the brain dead idiots are now in charge.

What happened, I wondered, to: “I may not agree with you but I will fight to the death defending your right to say it.”

Either they are abysmally stupid or they take money to sell out our birthright.

    Valerie in reply to betty. | May 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    No. Our schools are not producing brain-dead idiots, but it’s not for lack of trying. I do agree that we have some brain-dead idiots in charge, and one of them is the principal of my youngest son’s high school. What they are getting are perverse results. They are “teaching” our kids to question authority, by doing stupid and arbitrary things.

    Yes, the kids are indoctrinated. Yes, my college-age one and his friends are verrry ecological, but they are not stupid, and they will eventually figure it out.

    Possibly with a little help from mommy.

Ragspierre | May 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm


Free speech is not a one-way mirror. You don’t get to “piss Christ”, and then tell ANYBODY that Geller is being unacceptably “provocative”.

Just like Ol’ Walleyes does not get to lie about a “terrible anti-Islamic movie” (that nobody saw) that is outside our national values and go yuk it up at a tony showing of “The Book Of Mormon” on Broadway.

You don’t get to accuse Jews of being the new Nazi party, racists, and supporting apartheid and have ANY room to make a peep about Geller sponsoring some innocuous drawings.

Everybody is supposed to eat the Collectivist’s shit and check their privilege if they don’t like it, but we can’t challenge Muslim sensibilities because there are weak sisters in the media who are afraid it might stir somebody up?

That’s a particular form of cowardice. Plus, it’s an unacceptable religious prejudice.

    Hear, hear. And, God Bless you.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Ragspierre. | May 5, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    It is the Muslims that make their religious demands on others that need to “check their privilege”. These fatwas come from within the Western world, with Europe being especially full of imams issuing orders for illegal sharia “justice”.

    Neo in reply to Ragspierre. | May 6, 2015 at 11:17 am

    In case you missed the pattern.

    There is no hypocrisy involved here. The Left clearly believes in “free speech” except when it offends a group that is likely to respond with guns because you can’t ‘win’ an argument by calling them racists. It also explains why the Left so wants gun control.

sjf_control | May 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm

“The Garland tragedy…”? What made it so tragic? (Unless your speaking from the jihadists point of view.). Other than the two wannabe terrorists, only an unarmed guard was injured, and I believe he went home later that evening. Lets not dilute the term “tragedy” by applying it to this minor skirmish that was successfully resolved by an off-duty cop and his .45 caliber service weapon! Problem solved the Texas way!

    Exiliado in reply to sjf_control. | May 5, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    “Good riddance” sounds like a better way to describe what happened.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to sjf_control. | May 5, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    But O’Reilly states hundreds would have been killed if not for that one cop. They spent all that money on security and Bill acts like no one else would have been on alert.

      sjf_control in reply to Midwest Rhino. | May 5, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      It’s my understanding that SWAT was there too. The cop beat them to the punch.

      Eskyman in reply to Midwest Rhino. | May 7, 2015 at 2:43 am

      The Bloviator is wrong on that point (as well as lots of other points.)

      This event happened in Texas. If the gunmen had made it inside, would anyone really think that no-one there would be armed? In Texas? When all of them knew the risk beforehand? Remember, in Texas concealed carry is A-OK.

      Only O’Reilly could be that stupid.

      My congratulations to the lucky cop (lucky in that he got to display his excellent shooting ability, depriving a lot of other worthy contenders) who demonstrated the famous Texas Ranger skill: 1 shot = 1 dead baddie, 2 shots = 2 dead baddies, etc. Continue exercise until no more baddies.

      Works for me!

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to sjf_control. | May 7, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    BRAVO! for your comment!

    “No Tragedy!”

    Char Char Binks in reply to sjf_control. | May 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    The Garland Happy Time Happening is what I call it.

smalltownoklahoman | May 5, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Free speech is a right, not being offended by something or someone is not. Being able to go through a day without having something offend you is at best a nice occasional perk of living in a polite and civilized society.

    “Free speech is a right, not being offended by something or someone is not.”

    Minor quibble on that. With respect to the writers of Shrek: “Donkey, you have the right to not be offended. What you lack is the capacity.”

    Just because they’re too thin-skinned to exercise their “right to not be offended” doesn’t mean they don’t have the right; just that they haven’t grown a spine and dealt with it like a rational adult.

      smalltownoklahoman in reply to Archer. | May 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      A good point. I think the whole world would benefit if Islam and it’s followers would not violently lose their minds every time something happens that they feel insults their religion and/or prophet.

        Midwest Rhino in reply to smalltownoklahoman. | May 7, 2015 at 12:20 am

        The radical imams will ACT offended and beat their chest, but they are conquerors at war, what more would they expect from the infidel dogs? But the westernized Muslims are not outraged so much, if at all, unless they are not really westernized. They’re not out beheading gays or uncovered women, so if they are so easily offended, the private cartoon convention must be low on their list.

        O’Reilly and his ilk pretend to speak for the millions of Muslims, acting like protectors for these peaceful souls, all offended by this little private event.

        The only reason millions even heard about it was because two Muslims went there to murder. Any Muslim that does not have remorse for the actions of one of their own on hearing of the murderous attempt, is the one with the problem. But O’Reilly says millions are instead offended, not embarrassed.

        O’Reilly is now a verified pinhead, for the hundredth time. ha

Desert_Rat45 | May 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I’m perpetually provoked by all the slave auctions, rapes, immolations, and wholesale murders being committed by rabid muslims on men, women, and children of other faiths, not to mention the 2,996 Americans slaughtered on 9/11/2001. If all it takes to quell the enthusiasm of some jihadis is to exercise a little free speech in the form of a cartoon, then we need to hold “Draw Muhammed” contests in every state and make sure we have well trained and well armed citizens in attendance and on the perimeter. It’s hard for any mujahadeen to be gung-ho if he’s just been reduced to a couple of hundred pounds of rapidly cooling meat.

    Or send our troops back over to finish the job in their shitty neighborhood.

      Whitewall in reply to Paul. | May 6, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Or don’t send our troops anywhere. The threats to our country and way of life are to be found right here at home. Largely true during the Cold War too.

Islamo-tyrants have zero tolerance for dissent and they mean to rule over you. Don’t expect their leaders to be any more forgiving than these two shooters, these two soldiers. They follow the same Islamic rulebook.

The First Amendment is designed specifically to protect criticism of tyrannical government and contenders for political office. Jihadis are contending for political office or political power even though they’re violent means seem so foreign to us, when polite debate is expected. We must respond just as vigorously as if any politician brought a gun to a debate and pointed it at his opponent, as a substitute for argument.

The Sharia law demand for silence from the infidel is political, even if it might also be sprinkled with a patina of (harmless?) religion. Quit thinking as if this is all explained as religious. Instead, think of this as all politics and Islam represents a political party, one where apostasy is lawful grounds to kill someone for their treason to the Islamic Ummah. It is how they view the world.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to pdxnag. | May 6, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Well said.

    The Christian religion does not have armies or laws, but it seems the Islamic “religion” has both, and they have jihadist warriors as well. And they run wealthy governments, with a propensity for lying to the infidels, and imprisoning them. There is therefore no moral equivalence to Christianity, or any other religion I can think of right off.

    Besides killing ISIS over there, we have to battle their “mind control” over here, where they are establishing footholds and beachheads.

Midwest Rhino | May 6, 2015 at 12:28 am

O’Reilly had Laura Ingraham on, and she agreed these provocations were not helpful, to the dialogue or something. I’m not sure who her dialogue is with, or how much any dialogue has accomplished. The dialogue I see has been like the one Obama has with Iran, or Hillary has with Congress … delay, lie, obfuscate, repeat, return to the narrative.

Yet the left on offense, thrives on mockery, it is one of the Alinsky ten commandments. Jon Stewart is a patron saint of their dishonest mockery, and all the SJW haters spew it. It’s only Christians that are not allowed to insult or mock.

The left thinks they own mind control and mocking, as they Palinize any that disagree, or mock them as racist. They threaten global warming deniers, as they force their PC religion on us all.

The left not only mocks Christian belief, they use lawfare to force devout Christians to serve them at their mock “weddings”. They love it, and plenty of judges do as well. So why the rush to attack Geller and the drawers? I think they are all just cowards, comfortable in the NY/DC sanctimonious inner sanctum cocktail parties.

Camerota thinks that to make a sweeping criticism of Islam, as Wilders did at the conference (no free speech, no humor) is to make a sweeping criticism of Muslims. “You’re citing extremism, the violence, but he’s just talking about Islam. How can you say that 3 million Muslims here in the United States are humorless?” (At 5:45.)

She makes an identification between Muslims and Islam, which is just incredibly ignorant. That’s like not making a distinction between Catholics and the Catholic church. Just because there are many moderate Muslims who value free speech and humor does not mean there is a moderate version of Islam. There is not, except maybe for the tiny set of hetrodox Ahamaddiya, the only Islamic sect that rejects the sharia death penalties for apostasy and blasphemy, but they are persecuted as apostates throughout the Islamic world, their lives threatened every day.

So it is perfectly correct to make sweeping statements about the perversity of Islam, but no, that is NOT to condemn all Muslims. Geller herself has made this exact point many times, as originally expressed by her colleague Ibn Warraq: “there are moderate Muslims but no moderate Islam.”

Pamela did make the right distinction: “He did not say that [that MUSLIMS are humorless], he was talking about the ideology.” But that is too subtle for a CNN commentator or audience. Warraq’s clearer formulation would have been more effective. Of course it’s impossible to have the best response at the right time all the time. Overall Pamela did a great job.

    In Christianity (including Catholicism) we have a doctrine of “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

    In other words, it’s possible to separate the individual from his/her beliefs and actions. It’s possible to appreciate the individual but not what they believe and do. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s central to the Christian faith; God hates sin, but He loves all His children and people, sinners and saints alike.

    Thus, we can criticize Islam without criticizing Muslims. We can condemn the ideology, and still respect those who practice it. The ideology is hopeless, but there’s always hope for the lost.

Major media going out full force to make the case that they support approved speech, but not free speech. Approved speech is the same as pre-approved speech is the same as censorship. How on earth a free press can call for censorship is so mind twisted that only someone trained by the Progressive Left could even countenance such an aberration.

Stunning how well Camerota exemplifies the ignorance (I’m being kind) and the abject stupidity (I’m not) of the media. And her earnestness with which she does it!! Geller is purely a hero(ine) to me.

This is just another attempt by the liberals in this country to deflect criticism from the people actually responsible for the events in Texas, the shooters.

Though the event was undeniably in bad taste and designed to invoke a response, the response by the shooters and other factions of Islam are totally out of proportion in a civilized society. Christians did not physically attack Andres Serrano or his crucifix in a jar of urine picture [except in France]. Nor have Christians attacked, especially with intent to kill, other rather vile depictions of Christ or other Christian icons.

“Protest actions” have to be kept in perspective. In a civilized society, political and religious statements, which do not rise to a level of violence or place others at risk can not be used to justify a violent response.

Ragspierre | May 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I am trying to imagine the coming American “utopia”, where everyone will be compelled to publicly accept the moral neutrality of homosexual acts, traditional Christian teachings on the subject will be excluded from the the marketplace of ideas, but an enormous cultural carve-out will be made for Muslim sensibilities. If Islamist radicals shoot up a gay pride parade, will the incident simply be considered a moral wash, or will gays actually be expected to apologize for provoking their assailants?

Makes you say…hmmm….????

NeoConScum | May 6, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Radical Islamist Sewage:
Please Dial: 1-800-Go-F***-YourCheapSelves.