The Freedom to Speak Implies a Duty of Self-Control

Query whether the anti-mosque sect’s decision to deploy ads like these across town:

Draws into question their main concern with its construction — that it betrays an insensitivity to the 9/11 families. I wonder how those same families feel, seeing the manner of their loved ones’ death splattered across MTA-controlled buses? Surely Mike Huckabee is right, that the best argument against the Muslim community center is that polite society places supervening limits on acts that, while legal, are just rude:

Even if the Muslims have the right to build it, don’t they do more to serve the public interest by exercising the responsible judgement to not build it?

I don’t think it applies in this case. But why doesn’t the same principle militate against this display which, unlike the community center, is designed to offend? And why can’t the far-right seem to express a political point without deploying images of death, dismemberment, and pain?

Two other local notes: first, the building, at 51 Park Place, will not have a star and crescent on it. Plans have been released and contain no such indication. Second, the forced perspective in the ad makes 51 Park look imposing. It’s not. It’s a dumpy little thirteen-story building in desperate need of renovation, in a run-down part of the Financial District that is, nonetheless, full of massive skyscrapers. My apartment building is maybe ten minutes away, off Wall Street, and at 40ish stories, it’s in the mid-range. Similarly, taller buildings block the view from 51 Park to the future site of the trade towers. There is no line of sight, and literally no way to comprehend the two buildings in the same gaze. Third, again, the site is two blocks south of a thriving Muslim congregation, forced to use the street for prayer, because the indoor space is too small. Locals are only offended if they haven’t been paying attention.



  1. So when will we start hearing calls from the GOP to remove the Free Exercise Clause?

    I mean, now that they’ve started trying to erode your hard-won civil rights anyway, why stop at the Citizenship Clause…?

  2. XIV was the natural and direct consequence of Lincoln’s war, and something that he oversaw right up until the moment of his untimely death. This latest round of tea party nonsense sort of does violence to the whole “Party of Lincoln” thing, doesn’t it?

  3. Yeah, and not just on that point. While Lincoln was a leader and a visionary, it seems like the present-day GOP leadership (to the extent it even has one) is reduced to just rushing around after their most extremist wing and saying whatever it wants to hear.

    I’ll admit the polls suggest that strategy is working okay for them in the short term, but I think it’ll do great damage to their own party in the long run, not to mention to the American political discourse – it’s not good for democracy when one of the parties don’t really care that much about reality anymore.

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