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Are Radical Imams Going to Redefine Freedom of Speech?
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Now there are threats of violence directed against France for the publication of a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammad in violation of Islamic law. This is simply the most recent manifestation of a worldwide effort to censor freedom of expression and make it conform to the most radical interpretation of Islamic tradition. The bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie was recently increased and this distinguished author remains in peril. Theo Van Gogh was murdered for violating Islamic Law. And numerous people have been killed as the result of cartoons being published in Denmark and a video shown on YouTube.
I have seen several minutes of the stupid little film that has, arguably, incited so much violence and the deaths of four distinguished public servants, including a United States Ambassador who was uniquely sympathetic to Islam and Arab interests.
There is nothing good that can be said about the low budget film. It has little redeeming social value and the world would be a better place if it had never been made or shown. Nevertheless, it would be wrong, and under American law unconstitutional, to censor or punish such despicable expression. Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views. It also means that the government cannot pick and choose which expressions to authorize and which to prevent.
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