Americans do do stand idly by while terrorist thugs treat our Bill of Rights like toilet paper.
As an American, I may hate what you say, and I may loudly condemn you for saying it, but I will fight -- to the death -- to defend your right to say it.
Our First Amendment guarantees freedom of conscience -- properly a universal human right -- a cornerstone of a free society:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Americans do not equivocate between freedom of speech and rights-violating action. You are free to say whatever you please, using your own resources and in voluntary association with others, so long as you steer clear of violence, including such indirect forms of force as fraud and incitement to violence.
Offending somebody's religious sensibilities is NOT incitement to violence. The fact that somebody may respond to free speech by destroying property or threatening or murdering people is no legitimate reason to squelch free speech; it is instead an overriding reason for the government to take defensive action against the aggressors. If speech is held hostage to the irrational violence of some, then there is no such thing as freedom of speech. There is only tyranny.
The latest targets of death threats by Islamofascist terrorist thugs are Colorado's own Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the television show South Park. As the Associated Press reports:
Muhammad appeared on Wednesday night's [April 21] episode of the cartoon with his body obscured by a black box, since Muslims consider a physical representation of their prophet to be blasphemous. Last week, the character was believed to be disguised in a bear costume.
When that same costume was removed this week, Santa Claus appeared.
The bear costume had angered the New York-based group Revolution Muslim, which posted a message on its website saying that producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone had insulted their prophet.
The message included a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a movie about a woman who rejected Muhammad's teachings. The message said the "South Park" producers would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh" for airing the show.
Fox News offers more details. See also my 2006 report on the terrorist response to the Danish cartoons of Mohammed.
Unfortunately, Comedy Central, the station that airs the show, capitulated to these threats of terrorism. Stone and Parker posted a statement to their web page on April 22:
In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We'll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we'll see what happens to it.
David Harsanyi brilliantly critiques the terrorists -- and Comedy Central's capitulation to them -- in an April 23 column for the Denver Post, noting that today all that is needed to trigger censorship is a "a violent temperament, a demented ideology and a poorly constructed website." He concludes:
[I]f those who bankroll satirists can be so easily intimidated, shouldn't we all be troubled about the lesson that sends religious fanatics elsewhere? And what does it say about us?
"South Park" might be offensive, but I assure you there would be few things more unpleasant than watching a cable lineup dictated by the members of Revolution Muslim.
Thankfully, not all Americans are prepared to cower in some corner as terrorist goons shred the First Amendment and impose theocratic censorship. Some Americans are taking a stand.
Dan Savage proposed May 20 as "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." This idea has been picked up by Michael Moynihan at Reason and Allahpundit at Hotair.
I propose only a slight modification to the plan: to protest death threats made by freedom-hating terrorists, Americans should draw Mohammed -- and publish their drawings -- by May 20.
Below is my entry. For I am an American. Give me liberty, or give me death.
Update: See the CNN segment in which Ayaan Hirsi Ali discusses the death threats made against the creators of South Park.
My wife drew a very nice likeness of Mohammed and added a poignant message:
April 25 Update: Below are links to other drawings of Mohammed.
Creatures of Prometheus
Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard
Collection by The Objective Standard
More Drawings of Mohammed, in Defense of Life (more from The Objective Standard)
April 27 Update: See also my follow-up article, "Why James Taranto is Clueless on Mohammed Drawings."
April 28 Update: See also Ayaan Hirsi Ali's outstanding article in the Wall Street Journal:
... One way of reducing the cost [of protecting the South Park creators] is to organize a solidarity campaign. The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend "South Park," producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort.
Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.
Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. ...
April 29 Update: Hannah Krening drew a great cartoon:
May 3 Update: Here is Sharon Armstrong's drawing:
May 19 Update: Here are drawings by Greg Perkins and Richard Watts:
The Objective Standard has published a third set of drawings.
See my May 18 article, "Time to Draw Mohammed."
See also the excellent articles at Reason by Matt Welch, Nick Gillespie, and Michael Moynihan Part I and Part II.
May 21 Update: The Objective Standard has published a final set of images of Mohammed.