"It sends a message and has a certain chilling effect."
A while ago the Jimmy Kimmel Show had a kid roundtable that offended people in China. It offended them enough that it became a domestic and internal controversy complete with protests and a White House petition that passed 100,000 signatures.
The White House responded to the petition by writing, "The Federal government cannot force ABC to remove this show. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects free speech, even if individuals might personally find it offensive or distasteful. It may be upsetting when people say things we might personally disagree with, but the principle of protected free speech is an important part of who we are as a nation."
That's all true, unfortunately it's not the way that Obama does things. Not when the people offended are Muslims.
The White House asked YouTube on Tuesday to review an anti-Muslim film posted to the site that has been blamed for igniting the violent protests this week in the Middle East.
That's a roundabout request to remove a video. And while Obama can't ask ABC to remove a video that offends China, his people can ask YouTube to remove a video that offends Muslims and then jail the director.
There's a clear and troubling double standard here.
"I am actually kind of distressed by this," said Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Even though there are all these great quotes from inside the White House saying they support free speech....by calling YouTube from the White House, they were sending a message no matter how much they say we don't want them to take it down, when the White House calls and asks you to review it, it sends a message and has a certain chilling effect."
After that precedent, there's every reason for China to expect Obama to do what they want and hiding behind the First Amendment won't work because when you urge the removal of a video and jail the man behind it, you are clearly not committed to the Bill of Rights.
It's all a matter of priorities. Tender Muslim sensitivities come before those of everyone else.