Unlike some well-paid pundits this week, I'm not going to wring my hands and squirm with distress about the anti-muslim schlock "film" currently in the news.
For those who might be interested, here is my opinion:
1. This film did not cause any violence.
A film is an inanimate object. I cannot shoot a gun or set a fire. It can't even "cause heads to explode"- that is a figure of speech.
Violence is caused by human beings who decide to shoot a gun or set a fire.
2. The maker of this film should not be prosecuted by the U.S.- or extradited to any country where he is subject to prosecution- simply because he made a crude video that insulted a religion.
The United States gives everyone freedom of speech. It does not rescind that right just because someone outside the United States pitches a hissyfit.
3. This film is not the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre.
Shouting "fire!" in a crowded theatre can create a panic reaction, a stampede of people fleeing to safety. Fleeing a fire to save one's life is the exact opposite of setting a fire to exact revenge.
4. The issue is not a 'clash of cultures.' The issue is national sovereignty.
The moment the United States government agrees to suppress any form of free expression in response to violence or threats of violence from other nations, it has abdicated its sovereign right to create and enforce laws for its own people. It has instead surrendered that right to foreign entities.
5. The best answer to bad speech will always be more and better speech, not suppression of speech.
Don't like the film? Don't watch it. Or better still, write a scathing review of it. Or, even better, produce your own film to answer it. Start a blog and offer to host editorials, reviews and videos that skewer it.
6. If a film is accusing your religious or ethnic group of being violent, protesting that film violently is really stupid.
You may as well shoot yourself in the foot. Not only will such behavior confirm the stereotypes in the film, it will discourage reasonable people from sympathizing with you. Want to win friends and influence people? Present your objections to the film in a calm and rational way. This tactic works surprizingly well.
I guess that sums it up. This is how I feel about the situation, and I don't picture that changing anytime soon.
And the only fires I intend to set will be the ones I build in my fireplace as autumn nears.
(I can't shoot anything, because I don't own a gun.)