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Art and speech: No more freedom for either?
Eight Egyptian Coptic Christians are believed to have been actors in the making of the now infamous “Innocence of Muslims” movie, which supposedly sparked anti-American riots across the Muslim world. This week, Egypt issued orders for their arrest.
Reports the Los Angeles Times: “The prosecutor’s office says the seven men and one woman, all of whom are believed to be outside of Egypt, are charged with harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information. The office says they could face the death penalty.”
Rounding up artists who offend national sensibilities is the stuff of totalitarian regimes. So it was striking that on Saturday, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man believed to be the maker of the movie, was brought in for questioning on the order of U.S. government authorities, supposedly because he might have violated parole conditions.
After the riots began last week, some left-wing commentators suggested that the maker of the movie be arrested. In the Los Angeles Times this week, a former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Obama administration argued in a column that the movie was not protected speech.
Granted, the movie is both stupid and deliberately provocative. But this is still the United States. If we are to silence stupid artists because their art makes people angry, then this will no longer be the United States our forefathers gave us. It will be instead a nation whose citizens are no longer free, but subservient to the whims of hotheads around the globe.
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