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You Can't Say That! About Mohammed:

I hope all the American advocates of purportedly modest hate speech laws have a darn good explanation of why the caricatures of Mohammed in European newspapers don't constitute "words that wound," "assaultive speech," and speech with regard to which "the [Muslim] victim's story" should be considered paramount. If you can ban these caricatures under these activist's theories, there would be little left of the First Amendment. If you can't ban them, but can ban other forms of speech that is allegedly hateful from the target's perspective, I'd very much like to know why. I suppose the original caricatures were not meant to cause offense, and intent may make some difference, but they have been reprinted, in the U.S. and abroad, by those who know that Muslims will find them extremely offensive and hurtful, and even by those who reprint them for precisely that reason. And intent to incite may make a difference, but surely reprinting these caricatures is creating incitement on both sides, sometimes purposely so. So, if you believe in laws banning hate speech (and I'm not talking about speech that carries an implicit threat, like burning a cross), I'd like to hear how you would (if at all) distinguish between the kind of speech you would ban, and the caricatures in question.

UPDATE: Of course, you can bring back blasphemy laws, which coexisted with freedom of speech for decades in the U.S. But I don't get the sense that bringing back blasphemy laws is on the agenda of most anti-hate speech advocates.

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