Robert Spencer: After Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre, it is time to stand for free speech

One of the jihad murderers in Paris shouted, “We have avenged the prophet Muhammad,” making it abundantly clear that this was a jihad attack and a response to Charlie Hebdo’s daring to mock Muhammad.

It is virtually certain that the mainstream media response to this heinous mass murder will be calls for the West to restrict its freedom of expression, and not publish material that offends Muslims. If you think that is unlikely, remember that it has happened before. When the Obama Administration blamed the Benghazi jihad attack on a video about Muhammad, there were calls in the mainstream media for restrictions on the freedom of speech. Eric Posner in Slate derided the First Amendment’s “sacred status” and declared that “Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Sarah Chayes noted that “the current standard for restricting speech — or punishing it after it has in fact caused violence — was laid out in the 1969 case Brandenburg vs. Ohio. Under the narrower guidelines, only speech that has the intent and the likelihood of inciting imminent violence or lawbreaking can be limited.” She then argued at length that the Muhammad video did indeed have the likelihood of inciting imminent violence, and should thus be banned. Her article was a sleazy and dishonest sleight of hand, as the law is that speech that calls for violence can be banned, whereas she was arguing that speech that doesn’t call for violence, but that might make people who oppose it behave violently, should be banned. That would be to enshrine the heckler’s veto into law and to enable Islamic jihadis to silence anyone they disliked simply by killing someone.

And in the Washington Post, the gutter thug Nathan Lean (who has repeatedly published what he thinks is my home address and places I frequent on Twitter, in a transparent attempt to endanger me and those around me, and/or to frighten me into silence) declared: “The voices of hate that hope to fracture our society along religious lines should have no place in our public discourse.” Who would decide which are the “voices of hate” that should be silenced? People like Nathan Lean, of course – that is, purveyors of the “Islamophobia” myth who are determined to silence anyone and everyone who dares raise the slightest objection to the advancing jihad.

Now, as twelve people have been gunned down by Islamic jihadists in Paris, we will hear more such calls for restrictions on the freedom of speech. The likes of Posner, Chayes, and Lean will blame Charlie Hebdo and call on Western media to adopt Sharia blasphemy laws, and refrain from saying or doing anything that Muslims would find offensive — including, of course, honest discussion about how Islamic jihadists use Islamic texts and teachings to justify things like the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

This is the time to say, “Enough.” This is the time to say, We are going to stand for the freedom of speech. No more people are going to die for saying things that offend Muslims. The capacity to be offended and not respond with violence is essential to a pluralistic society, and the freedom of speech itself is our foremost protection against tyranny that would do whatever it willed and crush all dissent.

It is time to stand, or free speech will be lost, and when it is lost, all will be lost.