Twenty Five Dead from Terrorist Responses to Bigoted Film

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan militants claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a suicide bomb attack on a minivan carrying foreign workers that killed 12 people saying it was retaliation for a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad.

A short film made with private funds in the United States and posted on the Internet has ignited days of demonstrations in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and in some Western countries.

In a torrent of violence blamed on the film last week, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack in Benghazi and U.S. and other foreign embassies were stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by furious Muslims. At least nine other people were killed.

What we have is a clash over two rights: the right to free speech and the right to freedom of religion. Which right should prevail? Should government clamp down on bigoted films?  Or perhaps government should educate their population to be more sensitive to the needs, rights and feelings of others.

This illustrates the reason why I have always maintained that the most important thing in any constitution is an full enumeration (listing) of all the rights of the  people.  Make a full enumeration of all rights and you will find that people also have the right NOT to listen to the free speech of another.  People have the right NOT to have their families listen to bigoted speech.

The court doesn’t have the right to punish people for a bigoted speech.  The court only has the right to protect the rights of people NOT to hear.  The court should have some means of making a ruling on what is bigoted.  If people then violate the finding of the court, they can be punished in some proportionate manner, like being made to pay for the court costs.

Government force should be reserved for only two things – a violation of a court order  or the causation of harm or injury.  Government force should be used judiciously and cautiously.

The harm and injury inflicted on others is the greater crime.  People will, after all, forget all speeches.  People will never forget the loss of life.

If someone is injured by bigoted speech, that should be actionable in a court of law.  People should have be given greater use of the courts.  On the other hand, the courts don’t need to always order punishments.  The courts need sometimes to just find that something is wrong and ask that it not be repeated (probation).  The courts need to be free and swift at times and not aggravate emotional wounds.  The sword of justice needs to be a little dull as to not rush to judgment when the evidence is not conclusive.

Government should educate their population to be more sensitive to the needs, rights and feelings of others.  People should learn to respect the natural rights of other whether enumerated or not.  People have the right to not be harassed by bigots for their religious beliefs.  But most of all, people have the right to live their lives.

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