As the Death to America riots continue to unfold, four approaches are evolving toward the future of freedom of speech in America.
1. Accept that we are part of a global society and that a billion Muslims get a vote on what we can and cannot say. Laws can no longer be adapted to individual nations, but must reflect global concerns and a global consensus. Freedom of speech may be an American approach, but it is no longer feasible in a global connected society.
2. Apologize for freedom of speech without actually outlawing it, but while still asking people to avoid speech that may cause violent offense. This is the middle ground that integrates the first option without outright violating the Bill of Rights. This is also the current Obama approach.
3. Treat freedom of speech, regardless of how offensive, as hallowed and worth dying for. Americans killed in speech riots are martyrs to that freedom of speech and their deaths will one day convince the entire world of the value of freedom of speech and the open marketplace of ideas.
4. Stop treating provocations as a legitimate reason to debate free speech. When countries or groups want to begin a war, they will choose a provocation to justify the attack. Muslims routinely choose some form of religious blasphemy which they pick out and promote and then riot over. The issue in those cases is not freedom of speech, just as Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait because some Kuwaiti leader said something about his mother.
Attacks on Americans should be treated as attacks, not as reactions to something else, as the left would like us to do. It doesn’t really matter what the violence is motivated by, a brief review of the Muslim world shows that it is always violent and that mobs will fight over anything from a teddy bear to beards. Sunnis and Shiites have spent over a thousand years killing each other over a right of succession that stopped mattering thousands of years ago.
Debates over the cause of the violence play into the hands of the violent by allowing them to define the terms on which the violence happens and then to demand appeasement. This is a loser’s game and if we play it, then we lose.