Sunday, May 10, 2015

Free speech - like it AND lump it


   If there's one thing activists on both ends of the political spectrum can agree on, it's free speech - more specifically, the primacy of free speech when it serves their agenda.
   Celebrity Montreal chef David MacMillan, better known by his public persona "Joe Beef", sparked an online firestorm last week when he tweeted an open invitation to convicted war criminal Omar Khadr and called Prime Minister Stephen Harper a "dumbass".  MacMillan subsequently deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before the hashtag #boycottJoeBeef was trending across Canada.
   Interestingly, MacMillan's apology generated at least as much response as his original tweet - mostly from supporters who said he had nothing to apologize for and should have stuck to his guns rather than acquiesce to an online lunch mob.  As someone who's had social media bullies gun for my livelihood on the basis of my opinion, I can sympathize with Joe Beef.  Of course, free speech is a two way street, so MacMillan's critics are as free to encourage a boycott as he is to offer Omar Khadr lunch on the house.
   The Muhammad cartoon contest that resulted in a failed terrorist attack and two dead jihadis in Garland, Texas, was less about opinion than it was about free speech versus hate speech.  The event's organizer, Pamela Geller, is an outspoken anti-Islamist who's widely regarded as a hate monger by hopelessly naive leftists who buy into the "religion of peace" narrative despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  That was the whole point of Geller's event - to illustrate the lunacy of the premise that someone deserves to die for drawing a picture. The two would-be "martyrs" who showed up with assault rifles proved her point by their choice, at the cost of their lives.  Her detractors' claims that Geller provoked the attack and is responsible for the violence is beyond flimsy.  She didn't stage the event in Mecca.  She held it deep in the heart of Texas, which is deep in the heart of America, which is as home turf as it gets for free speech advocates. 
   That's the deal with free speech: Joe Beef has as much right to invite an admitted murderer to his restaurant as Pamela Geller has to mock Muhammad, and you have the right to support one and criticize the other.  It's a bit - or even a lot - like a dog chasing its own tail, but for anyone who values independent thought and expression over regulated groupthink and censorship,  it's the best system we've got. 

No comments:

Post a Comment