James Taranto did a great job analyzing President Obama’s UN speech. He pointed out that parts of the speech were a “serviceable defense of the First Amendment,” but there was ominous incoherence in other parts, especially where it broke down the distinction between speech and action.
“Churches that are destroyed.” Here is where the president’s moral equivalence leads him into total intellectual and moral incoherence. An attack on a church (or, for that matter, on a synagogue or mosque or any other piece of property) is a violent action that nobody would suggest is protected by freedom of speech. By likening it to “slander” against “the prophet of Islam,” which absolutely is protected, Obama elides the distinction between speech and action, which is fundamental to U.S. constitutional law. Without it, freedom of speech would be either a meaningless phrase or a license to anarchy.
This elision is not just intellectually slovenly but dangerous, for the distinction is precisely the one the Islamic supremacists would like to break down.