Following yesterday's post, a friend hipped me to this speech given by Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau when recently receiving a Polk award. Basically, it's just a lot better version of the argument I was making yesterday, delivered by someone with much more authority on the subject.
It's a quick, short read, so I highly recommend you just go read it, but here's two paragraphs from it that make the same argument I was trying to make, albeit it much more eruditely and succinctly:
I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.
What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.
But seriously, just go read the whole thing.