A Time for Speech and a Time for Judgment
The White House on September 19, 2012 regarding the Charlie Hebdo cartoons:
CARNEY: Well, we are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory. But we’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our Constitution.
In other words, we don’t question the right of something like this to be published; we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it. And I think that that’s our view about the video that was produced in this country and has caused so much offense in the Muslim world.
The Big Man himself last month:
We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody who’s sensibilities probably need to be offended. That’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about.
I would have told [Sony] do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.
Why the change?
North Koreans are funny little Asians who at their worst can mess with your computer (at least if you don’t care what happens to Japan). Being afraid of a bunch of Asians who can’t even afford to feed themselves? To plagiarize Obama, “that’s not who we are.”
Being terrified of murderous Islamicists, however, couldn’t be any closer to who we are. It’s very much what America has been about this 21st century. And if those exact words aren’t spoken out loud all at once from the mouth of the White House, the message is plainly seen in the juxtaposition above.
So, feel free to satirize and mock the weak, the apathetic, and the non-threatening.
But when it comes to offending the sensibilities of the strong and motivated, that is the time for judgment.