More Speech is Better
“Free speech” is not free. It can have serious, even deadly consequences. When a Californian recently uploaded a primitive YouTube video depicting Mohammed engaging in oral sex, it sparked violence and riots throughout the Muslim world. And according to Malise Ruthven in his recent *NYRblog* post, at least sixty people are believed to have been killed in the 1988-1989 riots in Pakistan and India prompted by Salman Rushdie’s *The Satanic Verses*, which satirized Mohammed and depicted his wives as prostitutes. But if we were to start prohibiting speech on the ground that some listeners, somewhere in the world, might be offended and react violently to it, we would be enforcing the worst kind of international “heckler’s veto,” and sanctioning the violence, which is surely more reprehensible than the speech itself.
October 16, 2012