Friday, September 17, 2010

That Which Shall Not Be Named is Named

This week, in the aftermath of the Florida pastor threatening to burn a pile of Korans on 9/11, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer weighed in on whether this would be protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Breyer told me. “Well, what is it?  Why?  Because people will be trampled to death.  And what is the crowded theater today?  What is the being trampled to death?” 
Now, Ed Morrissey does a good job of dissecting the legal argument behind why Breyer's pontification is outside the norm, and his post on the matter is well worth the read for that purpose.  There is, however, outside the technical legal jargon, a bit of cognitive dissonance to be examined with this topic on the Left side of things in general.

According to Stephanopoulos's blog post, Breyer's argument is to be taken in the context that "he's not prepared to conclude that - in the internet age - the First Amendment condones Koran burning."  The presumption is, apparently, that because someone might burn a Koran, that that information is so easily spread to a lunatic somewhere, who would then be incited to kill, that it is the same as yelling "fire" in a crowded theater (when there is not one), the classic example for when speech may be limited by the government due to the fact that such an act causes an immediate danger to the public.

What is important to recognize here is the fact that Breyer's commentary does not extend to the burning of all religious works, but specifically to the Koran.  The implication here is very serious.  Breyer, as a voice of the Left, has named Islam for what the Left dare never name it, a religion of extremism.  So often it is always that Islam is a religion of peace, but with a few extremist members and factions.  But Breyer says that the burning of the Koran specifically might not be protected speech because doing so would incite immediate violence against the public.  The intimation is that, at its core, Islam is a religion of extremism, and one of such extremism, that we should turn an eye toward limiting our own freedoms to protect ourselves from it.

The fact that this is a dangerous idea as relates to freedom of speech is one thing.  The fact that it comes from a voice on the Left in that respect is unsurprising.  However, when taken through to it's conclusion, that being that intimation of Islam being an extremist belief system at its core, it puts the Left in a bit of a conceptual conundrum.  They dare not say that this country is at war with a religion, only with a minor faction of extremists, terrorists.  And yet without meaning to, Justice Breyer seems to have intimated just the former, that it is the religion itself that is the enemy, that its practitioners are ingrained with such extremism as to be a constant and immediate threat to our public safety.  Does this mean, then, that we are in fact at war with Islam itself?  If it does, that could be the most dangerous idea of all.

No comments:

Post a Comment