"As we read news reports about violent responses to the video, from people who seem to be quite confused about who produced the video, it's important for all of us to remember the basic issue here. The basic issue is whether people in free countries, like most readers of Hacker News, are going to be able to enjoy the right of free speech throughout their country, on any subject, or whether any American or Dutch person or other person accustomed to free speech who happens to be within reach of attack by a crazy foreign person has to prepare for war just to continue to exercise free speech. On my part, I'm going to continue to comment on public policy based on verifiable facts and reason and logic, even if that seems offensive. I am not going to shrink from saying that people in backward, poorly governed countries that could never have invented the Internet have no right to kill and destroy just because someone in a free country laughs or scorns at their delusions. The people who are destroying diplomatic buildings and killing diplomats are declining to use thoughtful discussion to show that they are anything other than blights on humankind."
Allow me to reemphasize this point. The many participants on HN who criticize TSA "security theater" as a meaningless reduction in the freedom of people who travel to the United States are right on the basic point. If free citizens of free countries can't live in freedom because of fear of terrorists, the terrorists have already won. You and I should be able to speak our minds and express our opinions in the manner of all people in free countries--sometimes agreeing with one another, sometimes disagreeing, but always letting the other guy have his say. To engage in self-censorship because of fear of violent thugs is to be defeated by the thugs.
I think jerf correctly responded to this issue the other day:
If I organize a riot involving thousands of people that I manage to incite into killing people, and I claim my reason is that I heard that some guy is Glasgow made fun of the American soccer team over beer... that guy is Glasgow is not the real reason. It doesn't even qualify as a metaphorical fig leaf, it's just a lie. When the excuse is this tiny, you shouldn't even give it the time of day.
AFTER EDIT: Thanks for the two replies to this comment posted as I type this edit. I will defend to the utmost your right to free speech, to be enjoyed wherever you live or travel.
I wonder if the reason that books by Robert Spencer
have not been used as a pretext for rioting is that the instigators of riots don't want to draw attention to these books, which might lead a lot of people around the world to reexamine their beliefs.
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