It’s been said many times about the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment that free speech is protected except when you yell “fire!” in a crowded movie theater.
Therefore, I’m wondering if it’s fair to ask if staging an event that you know could provoke a violent reaction from someone offended by is the same as yelling “fire!”
Pamela Geller told The Associated Press she has no regrets over playing host to a contest to draw the Muslim prophet Muhammad in Garland, near Dallas. The event resulted in gunfire by two Muslims who then were shot to death by a Garland police officer.
Free-speech advocates — and I’m one of them, to be sure — suggest that Geller was exercising her right of free speech as a leader of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. She stands by her constitutional right. Her organization is virulently anti-Muslim. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group.
The Constitution’s right of free political expression is rock-solid. Everyone knows that.
However, is it responsible to engage in free speech when you can expect with some reasonable certainty that it’s going to result in violence?
This is a troubling question for me. I don’t have the answer. I’m looking for help.
I’m all ears.