In the United States we believe in First Amendment rights, but not the right to cry fire in a crowded theater. There are, after all, limits.
Now Afghans who have sometimes been violently protesting the burning of a Koran in Florida are demanding that the man behind that atrocious act be punished.
There are some Americans – people who do not support the attack on a UN office in Afghanistan by protesters there – who agree that Pastor Terry Jones should be punished. His actions, after all, led to deaths of western UN workers in Afghanistan. He should have known, they argue, what would happen. He was warned by the State Department that there could be a violent reaction. One that might put Americans in greater danger.
Ignoring that warning, he burned the Koran..
People like Jones and the Westboro Baptist Church congregation who protest the funerals of gays and service members killed in the line of duty do not deserve our attention, much less support. But they are exercising their rights to free speech. And, as the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving the Westboro clan, that right is protected.