Free Speech and the Draw Muhammad Cartoon Contest
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes popularized the expression one shouldn’t shout fire in a crowded theatre, or at least one that doesn’t happen to be burning down. Free speech is an interesting thing; until recently we have been able to say pretty much anything we pleased regardless of what others felt. We know free speech comes with an equal level of responsibility: a responsibility on the part of those expressing and responding to freely expressed ideas. Our use of free speech and our response to others speak volumes about who we are as a people. Was it a good idea for Pamela Geller to organize a “Draw Muhammad Contest” after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris? Perhaps not, but Geller had every right to do so. The ensuing violence speaks volumes about the threat of radical Islam to free speech in America: “Do something we don’t like and we’ll kill you!”
When the National Endowment for the Arts funded a photo of a crucifix in a jar of urine, Christians protested yet nobody was gunned down or bombed or beheaded in the name of Christ. It is the response to events like these that show the world the true character of those responding to legitimate expressions of free speech. Those with hearts filled with darkness and hate will respond with darkness and hatred and those filled with the love of God will respond with righteous fervor.