Free Speech – Cherish It or Watch It Perish

By Thomas E. Cheever, P.E.

ISIS is claiming responsibility for the 2 gunmen who attempted to wreak havoc and mayhem at a free speech event in Texas over the weekend.  Fortunately, the only recipients of havoc and mayhem were the 2 gunmen.  Thanks to an observant and quick acting police officer, the wannbe jihadists have now assumed room temperature.

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The attempt to stop the Mohammad Cartoon event in Texas failed

American Freedom Defense Initiative

The “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas last weekend was sponsored by American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI).

AFDI’s president is Pamela Geller, an outspoken 1st Amendment proponent.   The housewife-turned-blogger has become one of America’s loudest voices against what many describe as the  creeping “Islamization” of America.

In 2010, Geller told the New York Times, Islamization is not something that will happen overnight.  Referring to the ground zero mosque, Geller said,

“It’s a drip, drip, drip, drip.  The mosque-ing of the workplace where you’re imposing prayer times on union contracts, non-Muslim workers have to lengthen their day.  These demands are a way of imposing Islam on a secular society.”

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris prompted Geller to organize Sunday’s  “Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest.”  The winner would receive $10,000.00  for the best cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.  Geller said,

“We decided to have a cartoon contest to show we would not kowtow to violent intimidation and allow the freedom of speech to be overwhelmed by thugs and bullies.”

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Bosch Fawtsin, winner of the Draw Mohammad contest

Contest Winner

Bosch Fawstin is a blogger and illustrator. On his blog he describes himself as an ‘Illustwriter’. According to the AFDI Facebook page, Fawstin won the contest. Fawstin told Greta Van Sustern,

“We can’t be cowed by this because once this goes, once free speech goes, it’s over. I’ve been drawing Muhammed for years and I heard about the contest and I took it upon myself to take part in it. I think it’s an important thing. It’s about freedom of speech, which is deadly important, especially right now. It’s under siege by the enemy, the Islamic enemy, by the left, by some on the right and it is a constant attack. We are being told that we ‘shouldn’t do this’ or we ‘shouldn’t do that,’ and we have the right to do that and we need express that right especially right now.” 

“I understand the threat that we face and that’s why I do what I do. I don’t refuse to do it because of the threat, I do it because we’re being threatened. This has to be fought head on.” 

Well said Mr. Fawstin. Congratulations on winning the contest.

1stamendment

1st Amendment

The framers knew the value of free speech. The ability to say what you want, to voice any opinion, not matter how offensive some my believe it to be, is the cornerstone of personal freedom. The right of a free press and the right to worship as one chooses, are natural extensions of the individual right to speak one’s mind without fear of retribution.

The 1st Amendment, like all rights, must be protected. One way to protect our rights is to exercise them. That’s what Pamela Geller and AFDI were doing Sunday with the Draw Muhammad contest, exercising our 1st amendment right to speak out, to speak freely without fear of retribution.

The ISIS jihadists, now permanently removed from the gene pool, proved why Ms. Geller and the AFDI is important. There can be no justification for what the gunmen attempted to do. It’s a cartoon! GET OVER IT!

President Shepard as portrayed by Michael Douglas in ‘The American President’ said it best.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

The framers were wise men. They risked all to for this great experiment we call America. Cherish your freedoms, exercise your freedoms, or watch them erode away.