Pamela Geller's Right to Free Speech

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A Goldblog reader writes:

You write that Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer should watch their words because their words might provoke violence. You're saying that they should censor themselves or be censored. You're crazy. You say this and you put us on the road to fascism. I bet you would never say the same things about liberal commentators demonizing Republicans.

No, I would. I would say this to anyone, liberal commentators, and also (and especially sometimes, given the rhetoric) to Fox commentators who portray the President, and others with whom they disagree, as enemies of America. But on Pamela Geller and the target of her demonization: I believe that the mass of Muslim Americans are loyal, law-abiding citizens, and that many of them came here, in fact, to escape extremism, fanaticism and violence. And therefore, I believe that Pamela Geller's broad-brush condemnation of people and their religion (remember, she thinks that Islam is intrinsically evil) can create conditions in which people could get hurt. Yes, she has a right to free speech. But she has a moral duty to keep herself from using language that could physically endanger her fellow citizens. When you state, over and over again, that Muslims -- all Muslims -- are followers of an evil religion, you create conditions in which innocent Muslims could get hurt.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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