Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared to confirm this week one of the greatest fears for civil libertarians in the aftermath of the burning of the Qu’ran (Koran) by Rev. Terry Jones. With Muslims murdering innocent people as a protest to the book burning, Senator Graham has called for Congress to go hold people accountable for such acts. The message is clear and predictable: if someone’s exercise of free speech has caused problems, limit the free speech.
In the video above, Graham states “I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable.” He stresses “[f]ree speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, neither he nor his colleagues ever bothered to declare war. Likewise, Obama did not even consult with Congress before going to war in Libya.
Fortunately, the Constitution still exists to bar such impulses against free speech. Notably, however, China is arresting people who are viewed as destabilizing the country with their art and ideas. Now some members of Congress want to join countries in a type of criminal blasphemy law — an idea that Obama appeared to accept in supporting a resolution under pressure from Arab allies on protecting religion from critics.
Free speech is designed to protect us against our own leaders — like Sen. Graham. It is not enjoyed at the whim of the U.S. Senate. And, by the way, the diaper genie is a “great idea.” Free speech is what defines us as a people.