Just two weeks after the beginning of violent anti-American protests that led to the killing of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Obama vowed that even as the United States works to bring the killers to justice, he will not back down from his support of democratic freedoms in the Muslim world. But he also gave a spirited defense of American freedom of speech and the spirit of tolerance that allowed the inflammatory anti-Muslim video that prompted the protests.
“As president of our country, and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day,” Mr. Obama said. “And I will defend their right to do so.” For that, he received cheers in the cavernous hall.
While condemning the “crude and disgusting” video that prompted the protests in Libya and throughout the Muslim world, the president worked to explain — before a sometimes skeptical audience that has never completely bought into the American idea that even hateful speech is protected — why the United States values so highly its First Amendment.
“We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities,” Mr. Obama said. “We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.”
Americans, he said, “have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their view.”
And he said pointedly that “there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.”
“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents,” Mr. Obama said. “There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.”"
— The New York Times, “Obama Warns Iran and Pleads for Tolerance in Arab Spring” (via resurrecthobbes)
Just realized that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Damn finals…