So let me offer a defense for them.
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The United States shares many values with France and New Zealand, but a common understanding of “freedom of expression” is not among them. And in their handling of terror threats, both countries have resorted to actions that are antithetical to the American understanding of the value of freedom of expression and would be flagrantly illegal under U.S. law. The Christchurch Call was written with deliberate, strategic vagueness, so that an expression like freedom of expression can be taken to mean whatever a signatory wishes it to mean. But that vagueness poses risks, and if there is any chance that signing on would make the U.S. seem to endorse a French or Kiwi version of free expression, we should stay away.
New Zealand has an Office of the Chief Censor. Take a look at his website; he often goes by his first name, which is Dave. Dave has the godlike ability to declare certain material “objectionable,” thereby making it illegal to produce, distribute, or watch—and he did just that after the murders in Christchurch. He classified as objectionable the live-video footage (an Islamic State–style commando raid against unarmed Muslims at prayer) and the killer’s manifesto, “The Great Replacement.” To read the manifesto for what he considers a “legitimate” reason—say, you are an academic who studies killers, or a journalist writing a story—you have to apply to Dave for permission and pay him NZ$102.20 (about U.S.$66) for his verdict.
France criminalizes not only the downloading of terror propaganda but the mere utterance of statements of approval for terror, which can land you in prison for seven years. Indeed, you need not even mention a terror attack: to say something nice about Osama bin Laden (“an epic beard”; “volleyball prodigy”) is, in the law, equal to saying something nice about terror. Penalties for these speech crimes grow if the speech is on the internet. In addition to imprisonment, a judge can make you pay 100,000 euros (about $112,000). Hundreds are convicted of this crime in France every year, according to Human Rights Watch, and 6 percent of those prosecuted are under the age of 14.
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In the United States, you can watch terrorist videos, read their manifestos, and glorify their attacks all you like. The only price you will pay is total ostracism from the company of decent people. The protection guaranteed by the First Amendment, even in these days of hostility toward journalists by the Trump administration, extends comfortably over all of these sordid pastimes. In this near-absolute protection, the United States stands alone among nations—and given the constant calls, both internationally and domestically, to cut that freedom back, any suggestion that the United States should waver would be a sad concession.