“I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. . . . [A]s president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with.
“We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because . . . the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech . . .”
“I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.”
—President Barack Obama, addressing the United Nations in the wake of violence over the stupid anti-Muslim “film,” Sept. 25, 2012
Image: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
• Editorial Comment: I hate what you say, but I will hold my nose and defend to the death your right to say it—as Ambassador Chris Stevens did.
• Yesterday’s WORD: Did you miss yesterday’s WORDs from former ABC News boss David Westin, on journalists checking back with sources to “fix” quotes before they’re published? Click here.
OOOOPS: I missed National Punctuation Day on Monday. Here’s my belated observance, back by popular demand.
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