Texas Shooting Highlights Importance of Free Speech

On May 3, 2015, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) hosted the “Mohammed Art and Exhibit Contest” in Garland, Texas, part of suburban Dallas. According to AFDI President Pamela Geller, the event had on display various depictions of the Prophet Mohammed from the past 1,400 years. The event also sponsored a contest for the best cartoon rendering of the Prophet, with the winner to receive a $10,000 award. Recognizing the controversial nature of the event–depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are offensive to some Muslims–the AFDI and local authorities ensured heavy security was on site. When two would-be jihadists from Phoenix, Arizona, drove up to the event site in Garland with assault rifles firing, they never made it farther than the parking lot. It was subsequently discovered that the men had tweeted links to radical Islam immediately prior to their attempt at jihad, and ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack.


While many are accusing Geller and the AFDI of staging a needlessly provocative event, or worse, bating radical Muslims by depicting the Prophet Mohammed, it should be remembered that the satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo did not only depict the Prophet, but often depicted him in very unflattering ways. The offices of Charlie Hebdo had already been fire bombed, and they were under constant police protection due to continued threats. The staff and organization of Charlie Hebdo did not just recognize the magazine’s controversial nature or merely anticipate potential violence, they had a record of it, but continued to publish their material as they believed it should be published.

When radical Muslims attacked Charlie Hebdo five months ago, killing the cartoonists and staff members responsible for the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, (for the most part) people did not react by blaming the dead. Leaders of fifty nations stood united in their stand for defense of freedom of speech. A new issue of the magazine–with a circulation vastly greater than the usual number–was published with a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed on the cover, in defiance of the deadly attack and in support of free speech.

So, was the Texas attack America’s Charlie Hebdo moment? Not quite. For starters, Charlie Hebdo is a publication in the business of satirizing everyone and everything; it is an equal opportunity offender. As such, its satire should and is defended. Everyone has a constitutional right to free speech; no one has a constitutional right to not be offended. AFDI is against Islamization and therefore targets one group in particular. The Southern Poverty Law Group has labeled it a hate group. Still, AFDI had a right to hold the event on May 3, and simply because the contest may have offended some people does not make it hate speech. It merely makes it offensive free speech that is protected by the same Constitution that protects all other free speech.


If you think you have been denied your Constitutional right to free speech, contact the attorneys at Pak McRae Law, LLC.

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At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

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