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Free Speech, Unjustified Violence and Hypocrisy

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, the recent death of several American diplomats is an outrageous example of wholly unjustified violence that must be unconditionally condemned. The fact that some people were angry because of what other people put into a movie does not begin to be a justification for violence, even against those who made the movie, and it is certainly, not remotely in any logical world, an excuse for the murder of people wholly uninvolved in this.

The question of the judgment of the people who made that terrible movie must be kept entirely separate from the question of whether or not there was any justification for any of the violence that it caused. The answer is, without any doubt, that there was not.

It is bad enough when some leaders of the Muslim world suggest that there was some justification for killing people because someone felt that their religion was insulted. This error is compounded by the extraordinary hypocrisy involved when many of those who declaim what they found insulting are themselves guilty of equal vituperation of other religions and ethnic groups.

In an extraordinary, eloquent and thoughtful column in the New York Times for September 19th, Thomas L. Friedman, a balanced commentator on the Middle East who has often been very sympathetic to the legitimate concerns of Muslim people, wrote an excellent column on the essentiality of free speech, the absolutely unjustified nature of violence, and the hypocrisy to which I just alluded--and to which, to be honest, I was not paying enough attention until I read Mr. Friedman's column.

As Mr. Friedman says, ``an insult--even one as stupid and ugly as the anti-Islam video on YouTube that started all of this--does not entitle people to go out and attack embassies and kill innocent diplomats. That is not how a proper self-governing people behave. There is no excuse for it. It is shameful.'' Mr. Friedman goes on to note, with regard to some in the Muslim community who have been demanding that America apologize for this, said ``they might to look at the chauvinistic bile that is pumped out by some of their own media ..... insulting Shiites, Jews, Christians, Sufis and anyone else who is not a Sunni, or Fundamentalist, Muslim.''

Thomas Friedman's column should be very widely read, both because he has earned the right to be taken very seriously on the crisis in the Middle East, and because of its wisdom and eloquence. [From the New York Times, Sept. 18, 2012]

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