Incitement Speech

I’ve been meaning to post about the Pamela Geller “free speech” clusterfuck since it happened. My local teevee news outlet keeps on calling her event an “art contest.” Enough already. A hate group held an event hoping to incite violence to inspire a backlash and the violence happened. Mercifully, no civilians were hurt but cops were put in harm’s way so Ms. Geller could play first amendment martyr and dubious heroine. Any connection between the knuckleheads who were incited by the event and ISIL is tangential at best.

Just imagine if a Muslim group held a deface an icon of Jesus shebang or a piss on the Ten Commandments hoe down. The Islamophobes would be all over it like a cheap suit and demand the event be firebombed and then banned.

There’s been a pleasant surprise since Sunday: part of the backlash is coming from the right. I’ve spent a lot of time mocking Bill-O here, but every once in a while Loofah-boy is right:

Fox News may be giving Geller more airtime than any other cable news channel in the aftermath of the attack, but not every host considers her a free speech hero like Sean Hannity does.

“Two guys are dead,” O’Reilly said during his show on Monday while sparring with fellow Fox host Megyn Kelly. The host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” who has done his fair share of saber rattling against “radical Islam,” pushed back against Kelly’s defense of Geller.

“It’s always cause and effect,” O’Reilly said. “This is what happens when you light the fuse; you get violence.”

“You sound like you are defending, you are attacking the event itself,” Kelly said.

“No I’m not. I would do it another way,” O’Reilly said.

TPM’s Brendan James lists 6 other conservatives who have denounced Geller. None of them, of course, is running for President. That would be too much to expect.

The 2016 Republican race has been a relentless pander fest to the batshit crazy wing of the party. You would think, and hope, that one of them would run as the sane candidate. I originally hoped that Chris Christie would devote part of his candidacy to yelling at wingnuts, but I think he’ll drop out after a tepid, pandering pre-campaign. To paraphrase Garry Trudeau, the Republican establishment has placed its manhood in a blind trust, much like Trudeau’s intended target, Poppy Bush.


Rational people keep waiting for the GOP’s fever to break but it shows no signs of happening. The silence on the Pamela Geller front speaks volumes. Her posturing as a First Amendment heroine is nauseating. What she has done is to “shout fire in a crowded theatre.” He may not have been an art critic, but Oliver Wendell Holmes knew a thing or three about incitement speech.

6 thoughts on “Incitement Speech

  1. Actually, I don’t think the “shouting fire in a crowded theater” analogy is quite apt; more like dousing the theater with gasoline and then standing there with a match, ready to strike.

    1. @Karen: Holmes was a Beacon Hill patrician. He was too polite to go as far as you just did. We need more of that kind of restraint right now.

  2. My whole thing on it is this: Having the right to do something, and demanding you be able to do it in the most public, inflammatory, obnoxious, dangerous way possible, are not the same things. I’m as much of a free speech absolutist as anyone but this is just jerking off. The “SEE! SEE WHAT HAPPENS! SEE!” aspect of this smacks of self-congratulation and it’s just gross.

    My problem with a lot of the Muhammad cartoons isn’t that they’re considered sacrilegious but that they fucking suck. If you’re going to risk this kind of backlash — and many brave journalists and writers take that risk every day — for God’s sake make a point nobody else is making. Make it mean something.


    1. I can’t even say I have an issue with badly done Muhammad cartoons. But these people are not cartoonists. Or satirists. Or critics of religion, in general. They’re poo-flinging toddlers who think the resultant splatters should be regarded as High Art.

      And as far as withstanding the backlash is concerned, well…Brave Sir Robin.

  3. Just imagine if a Muslim group held a deface an icon of Jesus shebang or a piss on the Ten Commandments hoe down.

    It doesn’t even have to be a Muslim group. Remember the ridiculous outrage over “Piss Christ”?

  4. Does this mean I’m going to have to cancel the “Confederate Flag Burning”?


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