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USC Muslim Students Union Reacts to the Planned Panel Discussing and Displaying the Cartoons:

Here's the flyer expressing the Muslim Student Union's views. "Please come and voice your support for free speech and respect for freedom of religion," the flyer reports. Moreover, the flyer says, "Islam promotes free speech." Sounds great!

But, the flyer goes on, "it is important to recognize that anything that is discriminatory does not qualify under this heading" of free speech. I take it that the implication is that criticism of Islam, or critical depictions of Mohammed (or is it any depictions of Mohammed at all?), is unprotected because it's "discriminatory." How about Muslim statements that other religions are misguided; are those "discriminatory," too?

Plus of course there's also the old chestnut about the supposed "differences between free speech and hate speech." Fortunately, modern U.S. First Amendment law does not treat the two as antonyms, just as it wouldn't discuss "the differences between free speech and blasphemy" or "the differences between free speech and sedition." It's a shame that the USC Muslim Student Union takes a different view.

Finally, the flyer promises that the advertised meeting "will be discussing the ramifications of the continued unveilings across the country on the Muslim community at large as well as its political implications." Here's my sense of the political implications: If the Muslim community is perceived as hostile to free speech, and as friendly towards coercively suppressing criticisms of Islam, that's going to be quite politically bad for it, at least in America. If, on the other hand, leading Muslim voices were to defend even the speech of Islam's critics, and to stress that the proper response to offensive speech is peaceful debate, not suppression by violence or by force of law, that would be politically good for the Muslim community.

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