Pamela Geller's Right to Free Speech

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/pamela-gellers-right-to-free-speech/242531/