Feature

A chilling message on free speech

Does the right to free speech end when Islamic extremists riot?

James TarantoThe Wall Street Journal

Does the right to free speech end when Islamic extremists riot? asked James Taranto. The Obama administration has surely created that impression, after Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was dragged in for questioning by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department this week. Nakoula is the man who apparently created and uploaded to YouTube the clumsy, anti-Islamic video that has triggered deadly riots throughout the Islamic world. Nakoula, the sheriffs said, was questioned because he had been prohibited from using the Internet in the sentence he received for a 2010 check-kiting scam. Though he wasn’t arrested, “the optics were terrible,” as photos showed a terrified Nakoula being escorted away by brown-shirted sheriffs, his face hidden behind a cloth. The White House made matters worse with “an implicit censorship request,” unsuccessfully leaning on Google to yank the video off its subsidiary, YouTube. To react to the murders of four Americans this way sends a very provocative message to the radicals who attacked and burned our embassies: “We can’t guarantee that murder will get you what you want, but we promise we’ll do our best.”

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