Who's the Bully?

A local activist, Jerry DeLemus, recently announced his desire to run a "draw Muhammad" contest right here in New Hampshire.

This prompted my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, to run an editorial in opposition: "'Draw Muhammad' contest is just bullying". You can read the whole thing at the link, but in summary: the word "hate" appears 8 times (with "hateful" also making an appearance); "anti-Muslim" thrice.

Their final paragraph:

In our view, freedom of speech is not under attack. Freedom of speech is alive and well in New Hampshire and across America. What’s under attack is the right of our Muslim friends and neighbors to practice their religion in peace without fear that provocative acts by fools like [Pamela] Geller and DeLemus will incite violence in equally foolish extremists.

I wrote a brief letter to the editor in response:

A recent Foster's editorial opined that a local 'Draw Muhammad' contest is "just bullying".

Let's do a quick thought experiment:

Person A proposes to engage in activity that most people agree is fully protected by the First Amendment. He threatens nobody, and nobody is being forced to witness, attend, or publicize the event.

Person B, enraged, attempts to thwart person A's activity via the use of force, threats, coercion, and intimidation.

Who's the bully? If you're a Foster's editorial writer, apparently the answer is "Person A".

To quote a character from a favorite movie: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

I could have made this longer, but I wanted to make it short and pithy. I had had a longer letter on the same subject published last month.

But I'll add here: Contra Foster's, I'd say the vision of an America where people are free to say, within broad limits, pretty much anything seems to be strongly under attack.

Foster's worry that DeLemus's event might "incite violence" strongly implies that Muslims are uniquely prone to such reactions. (But it's not their fault! The poor dears were provoked!)

This strikes me as a weird condescending bigotry toward the Muslim community. Fragile flowers! But dangerous! We can't expect them to follow the same rules the rest of us do!