Two gunman with intent to kill pulled up to a free speech event in Garland, Texas and opened fire, but were killed themselves after shooting a security guard in the ankle. Participants at the event raised the United States flag, sang the national anthem and prayed for the injured, unarmed security guard. The security guard was rushed to the hospital, treated and released. The event itself featured a $10,000 prize to the person who drew the funniest caricature of the Mohammed. It is significant to note that the winner of the contest was himself an ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity.
Not surprisingly, many have come out to condemn — not the gunman — but the event itself, claiming it was insensitive and offensive to Muslims. Donald Trump was among those who criticized the event. But why condemn the event and not the gunman? Is this event going to turn into an assault against free speech? I pray not. When you coddle offenders and give them an excuse for their actions while condemning our God-given right of free speech, something is wrong.
It is Impossible to Dissent Without Free Speech
Our constitution’s free speech amendment was passed to allow people the freedom to voice their dissent without fear of reprisal. Some say dissent can be done more tactfully, but sarcasm, mockery and satire are the most potent forms of dissent. Should free speech itself be condemned because it offends someone? God forbid. It’s not just to condemn those with different views and beliefs than you have for expressing their own views and beliefs. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the suppression of dissent
“Suppression of dissent occurs when an individual or group which is more powerful than another tries to directly or indirectly censor, persecute or otherwise oppress the other party, rather than engage with and constructively respond to or accommodate the other party’s arguments or viewpoint. When dissent is perceived as a threat, action may be taken to prevent continuing dissent or penalize dissidents. Government orindustry may often act in this way.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppression_of_dissent
Were the Gunman Targeting Someone?
It’s possible and conceivable that the gunmen were specifically targeting someone. The keynote speaker at the event in Garland was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was placed on an al Qaeda hit list for his film “Fitna.” In 2011, Wilders was cleared of charges of inciting discrimination and hatred with the movie. The event was held by the Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Muslim group which has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Geert Wilders has led high-profile anti-Muslim events in the past and he may have been the ultimate target of the two gunman who arrived just before the event ended.
“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently.” Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told CNN. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”
The event itself was in rsponse to an event held at the same facility in January called, “Stand with the Prophet,” which was meant to counter Islamophobia after the Charlie Hebdo attack. That event drew several hundred attendees and about 200 protesters, and went off without incident.
Fear of Reprisal Imminent
The killing of the two gunman has led to speculation that Texas-based Muslim terror cells will mount some kind of response. There are rumors of ISIS terror cells camping inside the Mexican border just waiting for “the right time” to enter the United States to start hitting soft targets. But all this would do is provoke more anti-Muslim sentiment across Texas and the United States. It’s exactly what more moderate pro-Islam apologetics don’t want. Soon after the attack, militant Muslim groups expressed their support for the gunman. Islamic State-linked Twitter accounts posted in support of the attackers after the attack. A British man fighting for the Islamic State terror group in Syria posted a string of tweets supporting the attack on the Curtis Cullwell Center. In the minutes following the attack, Junaid Hussain, from Birmingham, who now goes by the alias Abu Hussain al-Britani, wrote a message under the hashtag #TexasAttack saying: “They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State.”
Perhaps he didn’t read the news. The only people who were killed where the perpetrators.
Don’t Condemn Free Speech — Condemn Terrorists
My take on this is that the event will be used by the far left to mount an attack on free speech itself. There are those who want to call any kind of dissent hate speech if it offends another group. This is an attack on the concept of dissent itself. If people are prevented from dissenting, we have lost our freedom of speech entirely. No matter what you believe, if you voice those beliefs publicly you will offend someone whether you intend to or not. That’s just the nature of opposing ideas clashing. The problem is not in free speech but in violence. In my estimation, when people condemn those who exercise their right to free speech rather than the terrorists who violently oppose it have no idea of what true freedom is.
If someone ridicules Jesus, I don’t like it. But I don’t get a gun and blow them away. They have the freedom to believe what they want and to express it as they like. I don’t get upset about this type of thing because, to me, it simply shows the ignorance of the person putting forth their ridicule. Their words and actions cannot harm me, and could never harm Jesus. It’s time some people grew up and realize they can’t control everyone else or make them believe what they do. That’s what freedom itself is all about.
I don’t know what you think about the Mohammed cartoon contest, whether it was wise or insensitive, but in no way should anyone condone violence on anyone expressing what they think about anything. When I was a child my mother taught me that, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me. Perhaps those two gunman never learned that concept. Have you?