We woke to the sad news today that the American Embassy in Libya was attacked and several American citizens lost their lives, including the Ambassador. The event that caused the attack was a protest of an anti-Muslim film created in the U.S. and promoted by Terry Jones of Florida. I’ve heard that the film was made by an Israeli citizen not a U.S. citizen, but I don’t have confirmation of that.
You might remember Terry Jones. He was the “brilliant” mind that decided to burn the Koran a couple of years ago. That act brought about a firestorm of protest world-wide and caused Secretary of State Clinton to remind U.S. citizens that freedom of expression was a right guaranteed to all U.S. citizens whether we agreed with them or not. He decided not to do it, but ultimately did go through with his burning. The result was protests throughout the muslim world with the expected consequences to human life.
I don’t know if he had any participation in the actual making of this film. I don’t really know the extent to which he promoted this film. I’m not going to deny him his right to whatever expression he chooses. Just as I have the right to write this blog and express myself, and to write my novels and express myself, he has the right to his expressions.
So where does personal responsiblity enter? We’ve had several good examples over the past few years of this kind of puzzle. Sarah Palin puts several congressman in the trigger crosshairs on her website, and when one of those congresswomen is shot in the head, she says it’s not her fault, that she can’t be responsible for how a crazy person is going to react to her words. Michelle Bachman works her ass off to tell gays and lesbians that they are despicable humans, not worth living in a civilized world, and that they should be working to change their terrible evil behavior or risk God’s eternal damnation and destroying the nation. Then says when her own district has the highest rate of teen bullied suicide in the country, “Not my fault. They’re unhappy because they’re gay.” Except not all of them were gay, while all of them were bullied using words and ideas put forth by Ms. Bachman. And Terry Jones, an avowed christian minister, who uses hate and hysteria to put forth his message of intolerance, but says it’s not his fault when people are killed in protests against him and his rhetoric.
When I was a teenager, “they” used to say that we had the freedom of speech, but that didn’t give us the freedom to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. I haven’t heard anyone say that recently. And I have to wonder why.
As a normal, reasonable adult, I would never think of purposefully creating a situation that would impinge upon the rights of another. And if I did that accidentally (which I have way more times that I care to admit), I would own it and do my best to correct it.
So I guess I have to ask, at what point does personal responsibility come into freedom? It’s a tough question, and it’s one that will likely be debated for a long long time. I don’t have any answers for the whole of mankind, but I do have one for me. I do my best to live my life so that I do not harm anyone or anything. If I’m backed into a difficult choice, I make the choice and move on. But I take responsibility for my actions.
More info is coming in about the film that may have sparked the events in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2012/09/feds-identify-anti-islam-filmmaker.html