Google owns YouTube. We don't know just who owns, wrote, produced, directed, edited or posted the 14-minute video "trailer" to an alleged "film" called "The Innocence of Muslims" that exhibits a hate-filled libel of the prophet Mohammed and the Muslim religion.
What we do know is that the translation of that video on YouTube into Arabic has inflamed anti-American passions always simmering in the Mideast and North Africa for a variety of reasons, with the result of four American deaths to date and a state of danger for U.S. citizens, diplomats and military personnel in at least ten nations, most of which have very new governments challenged to establish democratic order in what formerly were authoritarian societies.
Many of those governments are failing that challenge and must be called to account by the U.S., which provides almost all of them with substantial economic and other assistance. There is no excuse for the violence visited on representatives of the U.S. and its embassy properties and schools, regardless of how offensive the video is.
Moreover, the makers of the video have a constitutionally-protected right of free speech under the U.S. Constitution that politicians of all stripes in the U.S., including the incumbent administration as well as right-wing of Rush Limbaugh and the Republican candidates for president and vice president have rightly joined in affirming in words that would make the ACLU proud.
And yet: as the great constitutionalist Oliver Wendell Holmes famously observed, nobody has the right falsely to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. The Mid East and North Africa right now are a crowded theater of social and political upheaval. The video itself is the moral equivalent of yelling fire, and it found its way into that powder-keg "theater" only via the medium of YouTube. But it does not have a constitutional right to that powerful platform.
Indeed, YouTube and Google recognize this important distinction by their own guidelines against posting of "hate speech." Incredibly, the leadership of these firms
has not yet seen fit to recognize the obvious fact that this video as clearly and definitively the 'hate speech" that it is. There is NO constitutional right to a posting on a private enterprise site like YouTube, and hiding behind a "constitutional" defense for this posting, or even a general policy of openness to all ideas on the Internet, is beneath the intelligence of Google and YouTube's leadership.
It is time for the CEO of Google, Larry Page, to show the maturity of judgment befitting the importance of his position in this nation's business community, recognize that this video clearly falls outside YouTube's own standards against position hate speech, and take down this posting immediately.
The mobs in the Arab streets represent only a small violent minority of their nations' peoples and opinions. A million filled the squares in Cairo to protest the Mubarek regime - only a thousand or so are involved into the anti-American violence. We have a chance to change the direction of this subject if our internet business leadership will simply recognize that they serve no interest in freedom by choosing to give this video a pass against their own stated standards. The freedom of the internet would survive such a wise judgment: there is no 'fire" but the video itself. It has no Constitutional claim to a YouTube audience. Mr. Page, put this fire out.
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