Free Speech Belongs To Everybody And Doesn’t Come With Qualifiers

So some people gathered to look at cartoons of Mohammed in Garland, Texas when some extremists start shooting:

A cartoon contest featuring controversial images of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed turned deadly Sunday night when two men pulled up in a car and opened fire. Police returned fire, killing both men after one wounded a security guard.

None of the approximately 200 people attending the event were hurt.

A federal law enforcement source told CNN’s Susan Candiotti that one of the two men was a Phoenix resident who was convicted in 2011 of a terror-related charge. Elton Simpson is thought to have sent a tweet before the attack that read, in part, “May Allah accept us as mujahideen,” the source said. It bore the hashtag, #texasattack.”

It was good news the only casualties were the perps who, if they are right, are being serviced by a cadre of virgins while Allah is giving them an “Atta boy!” for at least trying.

Naturally, after the attack was thwarted, a number of people took social media, the press and elsewhere to condemn….the potential victims of course!

The condemnation naturally came wrapped up in bows of concern about being “provocative” for the sake of doing so. The most egregious example came from a NY Times reporter:

and then there was this:

This kind of asininity has become a standard among journalists and the people who laugh uproariously when Bill Maher makes fun of Christians. Muslims are such delicate flowers, the idea of doing any provocative art that might insult them should be questioned, even in the name of free speech.

And to those people, I say you can stick your concern where the sun doesn’t shine.

Provocative art? Who ever heard of such a thing, am I right?  I could overload Instagram in about 2 hours with examples of provocative art.

Not all art is provocative and I disagree with people who say the point of art is to be provocative. The point of art is to express a feeling or emotion and then create something to that reveals that expression or emotion through various mediums be it a painting, a sketch, photography, song or film. The resulting art certainly might provoke somebody to anger but artists should continue even in the face of that anger.

If Muslims want to get all pissed off that people are drawing cartoons of Mohammed, go for it. Reacting to speech with speech is perfectly acceptable. But if that anger rises to the level of violence or even the threat of violence one of the ways we push back against that is not to question the “wisdom” of the victims for doing what they did.

We push back by saying, “This person has a right to speak in this country through their art and we’re not going to allow you to try and silence them with your threats. Go to hell.”

We should do that where the art is a drawing of Mohammed or a photograph of a crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist’s urine.

The people doing the finger wagging and tut-tutting about being “provocative” are an embarrassment to the spirit of free speech in this country.

Guess what? One day, you might just create something that will evoke anger in somebody. And that somebody might make a threat. And if that happens, I’ll be there to say to somebody, “Go to hell.” I’m not going to turn to you and say, “What were you thinking? Why would you do this?”

Consider doing the same.