Over on The UK Debate Forum a chap currently living in America has posted a link to an article in The Washington Post suggesting that Obama "missed a golden opportunity" to react to Pastor Terry Jones.
Having read what this guest writer had to say, I have to admit I agree with almost every word.
I won't quote the article in full, The Washington Post deserves the benefit it gains from recording your click on their story. But I will quote the first part of the article because it is the bit that struck home so forcefully with me.
Here is what the president should have said:
(Pastor) Jones has a solid constitutional right to burn any book he wants (assuming fire codes are met). But the First Amendment prevents the government from burning or censoring books. That is what makes us different from al Qaeda, Iran, and Shari'a law.
Jones has a right to believe anything he chooses. That right is absolutely protected -- the government cannot tell any American what to believe. That is what makes us different from al Qaeda, Iran, and Shari'a law.
The rest of America has an inalienable right to criticize Jones for his decision to burn the Koran. Just as Jones's speech is protected, so is his critics'. The American constitutional system rests on the necessity of open and often heated public debate. No "sensitivity" can prevent the press from publishing critical political cartoons about Mohammed or the pope. That is what makes us different from al Qaeda, Iran, and Shari'a law.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is the Muslim cleric proposing the Islamic Center two blocks from Ground Zero, has the right to build a mosque anywhere in New York so long as the plan satisfies the land use code. The First Amendment plainly condemns discrimination against any religious believer or group. As Mayor Bloomberg pointed out, there is no "mosque-free" zone. Because Rauf's project satisfies the land use code, the Constitution prevents New York or any other government from rejecting or impeding the plan based on religious identity. That is what makes us different from al Iran, and Shari'a law.
The rest of America has an inalienable right to debate Rauf's plan to choose a site two blocks from Ground Zero. Again, the First Amendment fosters such lively debate, partly because it is safer to permit zealots to vent than it is to tamp down their fire, but also because the more views that are circulated, the more likely it is that the truth, or at least a better vision, will emerge. That is what makes us different from al Qaeda, Iran, and Shari'a law.
And then President Obama should have reinforced our dedication to defeating threats to our constitutional order. He should have said: Here is the line we draw: beliefs are absolutely protected, speech is highly protected, but conduct can be regulated. So Jones and Rauf and every other American can talk, and criticize, and even rant. But they cannot kill or maim people whether they are religiously motivated or not.
Works For Me.
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