Sam Harris Pointedly Defends Free Speech

Although I strongly disagree with Sam Harris about ethics and volition, I admire his recent article passionately defending free speech in the wake of Islamist murders of Americans in Libya and violence elsewhere.

Harris first criticizes the Obama administration’s policy of appeasement:

[T]he White House struck the same note of apology [as struck by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo], disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip.

Then Harris offers a resounding defense of free speech:

What exactly was in the film? Who made it? What were their motives? Was Muhammad really depicted? Was that a Qur’an burning, or some other book? Questions of this kind are obscene. Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.

If only someone—anyone—in the Obama administration would say anything approaching that level of clarity or principle.

Kudos to Harris for standing tall on the right to freedom of speech.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

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