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Surely such things can’t happen in the land of the First Amendment? In recent years, their attacks on free expression in the U. have generally been prompted by a philistine discomfort with provocative art, from the “Sensation” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 to the more recent flap over “The Death of Klinghoffer” at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Freedom of speech was only one value to be set against…ahem, several other values.

Fear, cowardice and rationalization spread outward. Twenty-five years later, we can look back on a long series of similar events, including: the 2002 anti-Christian riots in Nigeria, in which more than 200 people were killed because a local tabloid had facetiously suggested that Miss World contestants would make suitable brides for Muhammad; the 2004 murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh for his movie “Submission,” in which passages from the Quran were printed on women’s bodies; the riots in Denmark and throughout the Middle East in 2005 in response to the publication of cartoons of Muhammad by a Danish magazine; the murder threats against Dutch politician Geert Wilders for his 2008 film “Fitna,” which interleaved passages from the Quran with clips of jihadist violence.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images The new censors advanced such arguments as that “free speech can never be an excuse for racism.” These arguments are essentially exercises both in begging the question and in confusing it.

While the principle of free speech cannot justify racism any more than it can disprove racism, it is the only principle that can allow us to judge whether or not particular speech is racist.

Mann’s critics, they will have suffered a considerable loss in time and money. ”; prosecuting a drunken soccer fan who, from his sofa, attacked a player in a racist tweet; summoning a youngster to appear in court for a placard describing Scientology as a cult; and arresting a Muslim demonstrator for burning a Remembrance Poppy.

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Nun sind im westlichen Teil die ersten Bewohner eingezogen./...

It isn’t just some Muslims who want the false comfort of censoring disagreeable opinions. Gays, Christians, feminists, patriots, foreign despots, ethnic activists—or organizations claiming to speak for them—are among the many groups seeking relief from the criticism of others through the courts, the legislatures and the public square.Not in quite the same way, perhaps, but a libel suit brought by the climatologist Michael Mann against the opinion writer Mark Steyn, National Review magazine (with which I am affiliated) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for their criticism of his temperature projections still poses a chilling threat to free speech and scientific debate. In Britain, the sitting Tory home secretary, Theresa May, long resisted efforts to reform a catchall law regulating speech that the police have enforced with extraordinary zeal and no sense of proportion.Even if the case is ultimately resolved in favor of Mr. These police actions include arresting a protester for asking a policeman “Is your horse gay?Muslim worshippers in Baghdad, Iraq, denounce Denmark after a Danish magazine ran cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Feb. Associated Press These events were threats to free speech, however, not only in themselves but also because they intimidated people and private organizations and gave governments an excuse to restrict free media.Over time, they encouraged others who had no interest in Islam whatsoever—from wealthy individuals to “dissident” minorities to democratic politicians—to try their hand at silencing opponents.England’s libel laws—long a scandalous system for enabling the rich to suppress their scandals—now have imitations in Europe and the U. In May 2014, the European Court of Justice created “the right to be forgotten,” enabling those with ugly pasts—a fraudster, a failed politician, an anti-Muslim bigot perhaps—to delete their crimes, misdemeanors and embarrassments from Internet records so that search engines cannot find them.