President Obama used his address to the UN General Assembly today among other important things to try to teach extremists what means for Americans Free Speech after the killing ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya in the uprising provoked by the airing of a crude video mocking and insulting Muhammad made in the US by some obscure personages of foreign origin. His idea: free speech has to be answered by more free speech not by violence is understandable for moderates but not so much for extremists that fuel in the fire of violence easily, many of them without seeing the video and having second hand references because it was prohibited in their countries or blocked by the authorities.
“Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views — even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities. We do so because, given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect”.
Obama said that he knew that not everybody share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech.
But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.
The president said that the question is how we respond and said:
“on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence.”
“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.”
Obama is right. And is right in other point. In this age with the new technologies is no way to stop the whatever one mind wants to spread no matter how heinous it is. But that kind of speech can lead to violence and this is something recent history has seen many times and we are seeing now. Spread hate cannot be always free of responsibility, saving at the same time the free speech.