Former government employee Sarah Chayes makes the case that speech–like the notorious “Innocence” video–that might likely incite a violent and deadly response could well stand outside our First Amendment guarantees.
The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible….
In the context of the easily inflamed Arab Street, she would have us pass laws to sanction and punish proverbial “fighting words.”
Good luck coming up with a law that is capable of winning a majority in any self-respecting American legislature and being drafted with sufficient care not to amount to viewpoint discrimination. I’m not about to place my liberties in the hands of any agitator, anywhere in the world, who can incite a crowd to mayhem.
This is–I’m fairly confident–a non-starter. And boy am I grateful for that.