Freedom at test in the land of the free

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The debate over the First amendment and freedom of speech today got me thinking about how powerful freedom of speech really is.

For one thing, Rev. “Nobody” Jones in his inflammatory threats about burning the Quran got us all thinking hard about the power of the First Amendment and the freedom that Americans so faithfully defend. Some people might say that there should be a limit and a way to stop an act that although protected by law would most certainly cause a lot of innocent lives to perish abroad. The following is extracted from a CBS article, “”It is the duty of Muslims to react,” said Mohammad Mukhtar, a cleric and candidate for the Afghan parliament in the Sept. 18 election. “When their holy book Quran gets burned in public, then there is nothing left. If this happens, I think the first and most important reaction will be that wherever Americans are seen, they will be killed. No matter where they will be in the world they will be killed.””

I agree that we should always try our best not to offend other people or instigate any kind of violent reaction from any group or followers of any religion, not just Muslims. However, should the fear of what Muslim extremists might do force America or any other free democratic nation to sacrifice one of the most important foundations of democracy? Wouldn’t that be like a school kid giving in to a bully just for fear of being beat?

No matter how incredibly offensive an act might be, I believe that balanced and sensible people should be able to brush it off and move on. What would have happened if an Imam in Saudi Arabia or any other Muslim country had decided to burn Bibles in public? I don’t think it would even make the headlines. Most Christians probably wouldn’t care enough to even complain about it in their churches, or maybe they just don’t think their God needs anyone to defend his honor.

Fear is one of the main tools used to destroy freedom everywhere. If free people restrain their freedom of speech for fear of extremism from any religion they might as well get use to loosing their lunch money to the school bully because now he knows he can get away with it. The day America curtails its freedom because of any fear it will no longer truly be the “land of free and the home of the brave.”