America, where people freely exercise their right to say what they think, should be attuned to the potential for harm.
President Barack Obama stood before the U.N. General Assembly last week and spoke of an Arab Spring that “captivated” the world and affirmed America’s belief “that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values — they are universal values.”
He went on to deliver a gratifyingly strong defense of what is, perhaps, a uniquely American reverence for free expression — and, thankfully, to argue that even countries that do not accept it should not tolerate violence as a legitimate form of protest.
Few, if any, democracies go as far as the United States in protecting political speech that reasonable people can regard only as hate speech, e.g., “The Innocence of Muslims” video that inflamed the Muslim world.