« Ansar al Shariah issues statement on US Consulate assault in Libya | Main | ISAF captures Taliban commander behind the downing of US helicopter »




General Dempsey phones Terry Jones



Yesterday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff phoned the fundamentalist pastor who stoked outrage in 2010 by publicizing his plan to burn Korans. Via Reuters:

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with Pastor Terry Jones by phone on Wednesday and asked him to withdraw his support for a film whose portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad has sparked violent protests - including one that ended with the death of America's envoy to Libya. "In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause," Dempsey's spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan, told Reuters. "He asked Mr. Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film." U.S. military officials are concerned that the film could inflame tensions in Afghanistan, where 74,000 U.S. troops are fighting. The Taliban earlier on Wednesday called on Afghans to prepare for a fight against Americans and urged insurgents to "take revenge" on U.S. soldiers over the film.

It's difficult to wrap one's mind around the inanity of the top military officer of the United States genuflecting in an official capacity to a screwball pastor in Florida. Mario Loyola cuts to the chase in National Review:

Nobody in the U.S. government, least of all the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acting in his official capacity, should be calling Terry Jones or any other American citizen about the Mohammed spoof. Not only does that elevate Jones to some sort of semi-official status, but spoofs of deities are entirely within our rights and absolutely no business of the government's.

Yes. While there are very real practical implications to radicals using offensive movies and publicity stunts to stoke anti-US outrage, there are two fundamental problems with Dempsey's response. First, it's vaguely chilling for a US military leader to try to influence the public speech of a private citizen, no matter the security concerns that motivate the impulse. Second, giving random pastors or filmmakers the credibility implied by a phone call from a top official followed by a press release creates incentives for attention-seekers and scam artists to engage in the very behavior that Dempsey is trying to mitigate.

There may be little that the US military or government can do to stop Islamist radicals from seizing on aspects of our free society to generate violence, but trying to influence the speech of private citizens in this century's media environment is futile and counterproductive. It lends credence to the unrest, empowers those who author offensive speech, and blurs the lines surrounding the intended roles of the military and government in a free society.

Sooner or later, the portions of the Muslim world that take violent offense at aspects of Western speech will need to absorb the concept of free speech and grasp the distinction that private entities do not represent America, the West, or associated governments. More individuals will undoubtedly die, and this cultural lesson may never penetrate the consciousness of Salafists and others who view religion as irrevocably indistinguishable from government, speech, culture, and thought itself. But it's far better for the American government and military to prepare to reinforce and defend these Western values than to clumsily and selectively attempt to 'manage' them.



READER COMMENTS: "General Dempsey phones Terry Jones"

Posted by Lilith Gordon at September 13, 2012 2:20 PM ET:

In an ideal world, what you say is completely valid. This, however, is not an ideal world, and when one man can promote Koran-burning, Mohammed-bashing, and it cost the lives of even one soldier or diplomat, this man MUST take responsibility for the results of this speech. One never hears that Hitler personally killed even one person other than himself, but just with words he caused the deaths of 10's of millions. I believe that if with these words Islamists condemn entire countries, Terry Jones should be willing to take responsibility for this personally, and not hide behind the US military or 1st amendment rights. It's yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater, which is explicitly against the law. And by the way, America was built on the principle of religious freedom.

Posted by Capacitor at September 13, 2012 2:42 PM ET:

Ol' Gen. Martin Dempsey did as he was told.

He wants to continue his 'Upward' Career(Star PWR), what about that CONSTITUTIONAL OATH? huh magine that.

He sure as heck didn't have the Pastor's PH# on his speed-dial. Now how do you think he got the #?
3 Guess..the last 2 don't count

'GOD' forbid...anyone World Wide should should be O-fended (by our Constitution.)

Shall we cut & run if they are O-fended by our Presence. Seems...YES ..should be the answer...using this Metric.

Constitutional Oath, Constitution, USA.......
In Name Only

It's (All) DONE!

Thanx CIR!
Guess we'll turn to the Boy Scouts or Biker Gangs to Defend U.s.

Posted by Capacitor at September 13, 2012 2:50 PM ET:

Afterthought...

But we WON'T negotiate for U.S. Citizens Held Captive!!!

I reiterate...It's DONE!! 236YRS Wasted... on Appeasement.

Posted by kimball at September 13, 2012 3:44 PM ET:

U.S.A. is at war and hatevideos -koranburning et.cet
is pretty close to treason, taking the fall out into the
equation.
This kind of "free speach" is probably all right when it
is a vanilla war but really, the Pastor and the movie
producer should pay for damage done.

Posted by Infidel at September 13, 2012 5:03 PM ET:

So Kimball...I guess you will be sending a bill for all physical damages from 9/11 to...??? You miss the crux of the debate and the very essence of the long war.

Posted by JRP at September 13, 2012 5:32 PM ET:

re: "But it's better for the American government and military to prepare to reinforce and defend these Western values than to clumsily attempt to 'manage' them."

Must respectfully disagree. It offends me that I or someone else would demand the unlimited right to free speech, then insist that others go to their deaths defending that right. It is not up to the Govt or the military to defend; it's up to the people, who should be required to defend their land and values via universal conscription.

Talk all you want, but don't endanger my life. I find it distinctly unAmerican that we treat our military personnel as a lower caste, so to speak, who are obligated to risk their lives defending those who out of elitism think the military is there to do their bidding or protect their agenda.

Whether it is the right of free speech or the right to bear arms or the right to one's religious beliefs, no right should be unlimited.

Posted by Don at September 13, 2012 7:26 PM ET:

I agree with Bill's suggestion that people like Terry Jones (despite the ill advised nature of what they are doing) actually demonstrate a valuable lesson in one of our fundamental national concepts, freedom of speech. People are free to practice any religion they want here, something that doesn't seem to be an actual right in most of the nations susceptible to radicalism. I personally prefer truth instead of placation.

Posted by Joshua at September 13, 2012 10:08 PM ET:

This is absolutely absurd ...

Take away free speech and you'll have some violence on your hands - that's for certain.

Posted by Terry at September 13, 2012 10:42 PM ET:

This is the 2nd General (the 1st being Gen. Betrayus) to ask that us American citizens give up our fundamental right of free-speech because it puts the lives of those defending that right in danger. If defending our rights is supposed to be a stress-free work environment why do we even have a military? Im sure the Girl Scouts could do the job just as well, as long as there's no real defending involved. Next we'll be told to give up our guns, because some Central African Dictator/Bureaucrat doesn't like the idea of armed Americans.

Posted by Rod at September 13, 2012 11:48 PM ET:

Sorry Bill,
I have to disagree with you on this one. Trying to limit the damage caused by these hate filled idiots such as Pastor Terry Jones and the Westboro Baptist Church is and should be part of Gen. Dempsey's job. No one is trying to limit free speech, however disagreeable, they can say still say whatever they want. What Gen. Dempsey and the Government are doing is reminding them of the real cost of such idiocy as Koran burnings. No reasonable person should kill because of a film, but at the same time no reasonable person should try and incite violence through hate speech.

@Capacitor - Try to settle down it was just a phone call, not the beginning of the Apocalypse. Gen. Dempsey I am certain has done more to defend the Constitution than most

Posted by James at September 14, 2012 12:36 AM ET:

This situation appalls me.

How do you promote your own 'product' (religion) by bashing another man's product (religion).

I'd love to know if whoever the individual or individuals are that produced that film could be held liable in civil or even criminal court for wrongful deaths or even negligent homicide.

I'd also like to know if these nut cases can be said to be committing a sin against their own religion by even viewing that film (let alone producing it).

What happened to You Tube's TOS ('Terms of Service').

The big blunder committed by the previous administration and congress was their failure to declare war on Al Queda in the aftermath of 9/11.

The Constitution states "Congress shall have power to declare war . . . " PERIOD. No where does it state that it has to be a country.

Seriously folks, we don't owe this world jack-diddly squat. Despite what GWB said, we (the American people) are not 'obligated' to this world for nothing.

By the good deeds this Nation has done for this world, this world could never repay US.

The US Constitution states point-blank (in relevant part) that "Congress shall have the power to declare war . . . " and that's it ! ! !

Posted by Neonmeat at September 14, 2012 3:27 AM ET:

The thing is T Jones only feels able to say what he does because he himself is never going to be the one that has to face the backlash. That falls to the Soldiers and others in stationed in the East. Of course free speech and freedom to criticise religion is a core concept of western Social Democracies and must be defended. However T Jones could exercise some personal restraint and take into mind the danger his words may put his fellow Americans and fellow Christians in. At the same time the only ones who can be held responsible for these deaths are the ones that did the actual killing, I ask where is the restraint from Muslim Leaders. Even after this incident the Muslim Brotherhood is not calling for calm and dialogue but for more nationwide protests. They also need to exercise some rationality and restraint and stop using the masses for their petty point scoring against the US.

Posted by David at September 14, 2012 4:12 AM ET:

"On behalf of a grateful nation...yes, we knew this movie could cause violence against US service members and we did nothing. Why? Free speech of course. Sorry your son is dead. Tough luck."

Posted by Knighthawk at September 14, 2012 4:48 AM ET:

Absolute insanity this call. Well said Bill.

Posted by kimball at September 14, 2012 4:49 AM ET:


So Mr Infidel, what is the very essence of the long war??

Posted by Kolya Krece at September 14, 2012 5:18 AM ET:

Gee why don't we install a hot line from the Muslim Brotherhoods headquarters to the Pentagon. They could then suggest which kinds of speech are too free for their tastes. High ranking US military leaders could then provide useful guidance to all those Americans that are abusing their rights at least as far as the Muslim Brotherhood is concerned.

Makes me wonder why we didn't implement such a plan during the cold war - The Soviets could have given similar advice on how capitalism should have worked etc etc. We could have saved a lot of money on the defense budget.

I have to give the islamists credit though - for folks from such a dysfunctional civilization they are more effective at undermining western civilization than the Soviet Union was.

Posted by Matt at September 14, 2012 10:36 AM ET:

Lets REALLY try to learn something folks. Load up T. Jones on the next flight to Libya and hand him over to the crowd. We can all watch him torn to pieces. Everyone happy? NO. Jihadists will NEVER be appeased. That's what Demspey doesn't understand. Jihadists don't care about this video. You don't understand them if you believe this video caused anything. If you dare to wet their lips with appeasement they will be more thirsty. We all must come to terms with this. Stop the madness. T. Jones has the right to be utterly stupid. How many stupid Americans do you know? How can we possibly prevent Al Qaeda from finding stupid youtubes to use as excuses to kill Americans?

Posted by C-Low at September 14, 2012 10:56 AM ET:

All those advocating against FREE SPEECH by saying some lone yolo in the middle of central FL can make a YOUTUBE video should be sanctioned by the US gov because it "insults" some radicals on the other side of the pond driving them to murder, you better think twice.

Don't forget those radicals hate many other things. Consider that if we must silence free speech and what I guess make blasphemy laws like they have in the ME. Don't forget step 2,3, etc.. all homosexuals are to be hung from cranes above the city for all to see, all women are to be beaten in the street for showing ANKLE or walking on the same side as a man etc....

Don't start down the slide if you are not prepared to go all the way down.

Besides what about all the Arabs that do daily death to US or Israel protest. Are they to be sanctioned or the death to Christians marches across Egypt what of them?

Pansies make me sick. Have pride in our cultural. Look around the world then compare to US. Wonder why they all seem to live in squalor but the few nations who follow our culture live so different, wonder why.

Posted by C-Low at September 14, 2012 11:00 AM ET:

Also go look at this much more plausible theory using a blown out of proportion youtube video to rabble up a crowd to use as cover.

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2012/09/was-it-really-all-about-a-movie.html

Either way WE HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR.

Posted by David at September 14, 2012 11:39 AM ET:

I think those that agree with Gen. Dempsey's phone call are forgetting one important thing -- there are more nuts than there are minutes in the day to call them. Once you get one of these nuts to shut up, the Islamists trolling youtube for more offensive videos will be able to find 10 more.

The point is that the decision to get "offended" was a conscious political act by religious authorities in Egypt, including their government. It is a way to be seen to be "standing up for Islam". Mubarak did a similar thing with the Danish cartoons.

While I have no problem with Gen. Dempsey telling someone in particular to shut up if it makes Gen. Dempsey's job more difficult, I don't think you can ever succeed. Even if Terry Jones is willing to go along, the next nut won't be, and there will be hundreds behind him.

AND, the Islamists can always find something to be offended about. Just look at our own political campaigns, which are just filled with people being "shocked" and "offended" by one thing or another, attempting to energize their base.

Its just that when this trick is done in the Middle East, our embassies get attacked, and sometimes people, our people, die. It's a much more serious game over there.

The real solution is to tell the Egyptian government to protect our embassy better, or we'll cut off funding, and pull our people out. And to quit playing to the peanut gallery at our expense. The Libyans are kind of still getting their government together, and it is lawless chaos over there. But they should allow us to maintain a much more robust force, because of the prevalence of Al Qaeda and other criminal gangs.

Posted by kimball at September 14, 2012 12:28 PM ET:

Free speech, free speech can have twists and turns.

http://swampland.time.com/2012/09/13/will-the-arab-spring-rain-on-obamas-re-election/?iid=sl-main-lede

Posted by anan at September 14, 2012 1:03 PM ET:

BILL ARDOLINO, the CJCS was right to call. It shows that the CJCS disagrees with dumb people.

The dumb pastor and the dumb filmaker and other dumb people can do what they want. That is not the point.

The US uniformed military still gets brownie points for being on the right side of this issue. That saves lives and isolates the Salafi extremists.

I am amazed by the extent of criticism the CJCS is getting. For the record I am a long time fan of Gen Dempsey. One of many fans.

Posted by kimball at September 14, 2012 1:16 PM ET:


If this is your man multipled a hundred times,
doe's he still have the right of free speech?

http://maxblumenthal.com/2012/09/meet-the-right-wing-extremist-behind-anti-muslim-film-that-sparked-deadly-riots/

Posted by kimball at September 14, 2012 1:28 PM ET:


If this is your man multipled a hundred times,
doe's he still have the right of free speech?

http://maxblumenthal.com/2012/09/meet-the-right-wing-extremist-behind-anti-muslim-film-that-sparked-deadly-riots/

Posted by Cguyy22 at September 14, 2012 3:15 PM ET:

I thought this article was really good, thought out and well written. I concur with the assessment of the writer. You cannot rationalize with those without ration!! and thus you should not try. These Cairo riots, and now all of mideast, are examples of selective offensiveness. Not too long ago in Egypt, a coptic christian girl with mental issues was arrested for defaming the Quran, but later released once it was discovered that a Muslim Cleric may have intentionally framed this girl to cause unrest. This was a true attack against the integrity of Islam. As far as I know, no one was outraged by this? So, it is ok for muslims to insult Islam, but not for others? Sounds hypocritical to me.

Posted by More Liberty at September 14, 2012 3:20 PM ET:

It really amazes me how many people here actually hold the US Constitution, and our inalienable rights in contempt. One individual was spouting off about universal conscription - ie involuntary servitude, and another was spewing some froth about "put limits on free speech."

It's amazing - and sad.

Posted by jrtoken at September 14, 2012 3:56 PM ET:

Want an easy fix? I've got an idea. Pull back every single service man and women stationed worldwide.

See how quickly the protest stops, the hungry hands come forward and want more money, protection, etc.

Will it stop the Taliban/al-Qaida/ISI etc? No, not at all.

But i would bet dollars to Sundays these same thugs guised in the name of Islam will be like a fat kid in the food stamp line in 5-10 years. Foaming at the mouth for us to come back, and remembering how good we were.

When 9/11 version two happens, and don't kind yourself that it won't... wait until all this happy horse she it is gone, and America re-unites. It's too bad that unity only has a shelf life for 7 years or so, but that seven years was oh so sweet.

Posted by Yellow Devil at September 14, 2012 4:48 PM ET:

You are absolutely correct. The General should not have made this official call. It gives more credit to this knucklehead pastor (who didn't even make the film) than he should be allowed. I mean now what's the next step? If you publically speak out against Islam or any other religion, is that grounds for silence as well? These nutjobs are going to find any reason to riot, especially over something they haven't even seen. Also, it turns out that there is a good chance these embassey attacks were preplanned for 9/11. So what gives, why wasn't security boosted around the anniversary? Oh and I keep hearing the "fire in the theater" analogy. These two cases are nowhere close to being analogies, so I am telling people to stop it.

Posted by Dave Porter at September 14, 2012 6:59 PM ET:

If I was serving in the military, and in harm's way, I would appreciate General Dempsey's efforts to reduce the likelihood of my getting injured or killed.

General Dempsey has certain rights, including his own right to freedom of speech. He did not coerce Mr Jones. He just asked Jones to think about the consequences of his own actions.

The reason we have these basic freedoms is because they allow us to reach towards elemental truths. A particularly vital one involves not getting people killed for no good reason. Save our best and bravest for purposeful activity, instead of making targets of them.

Those two SEALs who just got killed in Libya may well have been the real targets of a concerted military response to their mission, which involved discovery and destruction of thousands of Stinger-equivalent shoulder-mounted missiles.

Posted by Zippy at September 14, 2012 8:11 PM ET:

This is the second time in a few weeks that General Dempsey has acted against free speech. He recently spoke against the veterans who've expressed political opposition to the Obama Administration. I guess he's no fan of Ike or US Grant! How does he feel about Wes Clark or Joe Sestak?
This video may be hateful junk, but if free speech doesn't offend someone, then it's not free. Offending Christians seems to be tolerated because it's hard to remember when the Episcopalians last rioted.
What would Dempsey's view of a competent Hollywood production about Muhammad - including his child bride, sexual enslavement of captive women, and murder of Jewish captives. I know what we did to our World War II enemies who took comfort women and murdered Jews.
I know that Minister Jones' stuff angers the enemy. So does Christian religion, Western women's attire, and a thousand other things. Which do we stop doing? Our mission either needs to be to win the war or get out of it. As General LeMay said, "if you kill enough of them, they stop fighting." I don't give a rat's butt what the enemy thinks, so long as he understands NEVER AGAIN to turn his hateful murderous ways against the United States.

Posted by Render at September 14, 2012 9:46 PM ET:

I'll preface this by stating that I've had a run-in with very junior members of Gen. Dempsey's former staff who attempted the exact same type of chilling of free speech.

And all that I was saying at the time was that there are tremendous logistics issues regarding supporting an army inside landlocked Afghanistan.

=

I'm looking at some of the comments above supporting Dempsey making that call, and I'm wondering where is the call to chill the free speech of the thousands of Islamic terrorist websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts that openly and repeatedly call for the death of all Jews? (seriously Anan, you must know better then that by now).

Can we dispense with the "Islam is peace" meme now? Is there a single Islamic ruled or majority nation that is at peace any where on the planet? Feel free to try and name one...

If we are not going to act like we are involved in a world wide religious war, can we at least stop supporting those who are at war against our freedoms?

ENOUGH
ALREADY,
R

Posted by Spartan at September 14, 2012 10:59 PM ET:

After 11 years of fighting, it's disgustingly apparent that US civil and military leaders haven't the vaguest clue about the cultures we're dealing with in the Middle East and central Asia. This is not an issue about Terry Jones or a stupid video. It's about he Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff calling a private American citizen over the citizen's beliefs and opinions. If the senior uniformed service member of the US is going to try to intimidate a kooky pastor with a phone call, politely asking him to shut up, why doesn't he grab his sack and make phone calls to journalists and elected officials who do the same thing (putting Soldiers at risk - IF you accept the absurd premise that the actions/speech actually incites the violence - the desire to do violence is already present). There is NO excuse for the violence, and only one way to respond to people who do this kind of violence against our embassies. This video is a red-herring - the imams, elders, AQ and the Taliban are the ones inciting violence - not idiots with a handheld videocam. Most of the "protestors" likely have not seen the video. I'm tired of being led by morons, civilian or military, who also don't understand (or ignore, got to be one or the other) the Constitution. GEN Dempsey is supposed to be this stellar thinker - really? Those who have cited "force protection" concerns as a valid reason or justification for GEN Dempsey to call a private citizen are delusional. We volunteered to fight our nation's wars regardless of the circumstances. If a foreign counterpart, enemy combatant, or civilian wants to kill an American service member, he's got plenty of reasons other than a video he probably hasn't seen, or some comments from some wacky pastor. Just shows how little our senior leadership truly understands the enemy or people we're engaged with. GEN Dempsey should resign. What kind of decision-making and leadership has this shown? Good intentions don't cut it.

Posted by Eric at September 15, 2012 3:28 AM ET:

I have to agree with the author on this: Official calls from generals to religious leaders asking for toned-down rhetoric puts our free speech at risk.

Apart from everything else surrounding these interesting times we are going through, US Military leaders cannot call private citizens, and definitely cannot call religious public figures - in an official capacity as general so-and-so - to request that they change their message.

This goes against free speach and the separation of church and state.

Dempsey needs to get in front of some cameras and reinforce his grasp of these constitutional principles to set Americans at ease about their government leaders adherence to the LAWS WHICH PROTECT these principles. White House needs to recognize the mistake here and quickly correct it.

Be assured, as so many have said already, the extremists do not need a movie trailer about Mohammed as a pretext to burn stuff, shout hatred of people who do not follow them, and kill people to create fear. They will always do that stuff.

They were shouting Death to Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lebanon, for pete's sake.

Dempsey: Never argue with an idiot, sir. They will only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. I cannot believe you do not already know that.

Posted by Jason Blatter at September 15, 2012 8:21 AM ET:

So what happens when the islamo-freaks start killing people for dancing, or enjoying music......oh wait. I guesses the people on this board who are so concerned about offending the radical sensibilities of the taliban have gotten rid of their radios, tv's, and musical instruments, not to mention their bibles, or the bacon in their fridge. All of those items are punishable by death.......

Posted by Tony Buzan at September 15, 2012 10:46 AM ET:

The pastor is a national security threat, putting the lives at US soldiers at risk.

The phone call was entirely appropriate.

Posted by SomeGuy at September 15, 2012 1:55 PM ET:

A phone call, not an email or letter or something with an actual record of what was said/asked.

Why not the Sec of State?, Prez?, Sec Def again... no, it's an election year so lets have the top uniformed service member ask a private citizen to tame his speech because the uneducated masses of the caliphate disagree.
_
It's entirely reasonable to hold the US Gov. accountable for the acts of a free citizen...right?
_
Or is it reasonable to hold everyone in the world community accountable to uphold the standards of respect that followers of (insert religion) must uphold?
_
Perhaps we should hold their outrage at America as legitimate since people who rock the boat over there are snuffed out by their Gov....the US should have clearly done the same....right?

How is this NOT going to make people want to flood youtube with drawing/movies along similar lines?

Posted by timotato at September 16, 2012 12:13 AM ET:

I seriously doubt the General "genuflected in an official capacity to a screwball pastor in Florida". That's what the story says because the General needs to uphold our free speech values...in the press. I bet what the General REALLY said was "People died...are you happy? Are you satisfied? Is this what you God would have wanted? Let me remind you of our new "imprison without due process law" and how the next time you incite a riot you can kiss the rest of your life goodbye. Got it, Preach?"

Posted by DonM at September 16, 2012 3:05 AM ET:

I really get a kick out of all this nonsense about a pastor or film maker inciting a riot, or its like yelling fire in a theater. It is emphatically not. The pastor and film maker are expressing an opinion. That is different than giving an order to invade a country (Hitler). Incitement has specific attributes where someone is urging others to act criminally. Neither the Pastor nor the Film maker urged anyone to commit a crime.

What is happening around the world is orchestrated animus. To think it is a rational act (how ever misguided) to riot, kill, and ransack because some crackpot half a world away spouted off something that offended them defies credibility. The film is just pretense. Otherwise you would have to accept that a major portion of the Muslim world is utterly pathetic to an absurd degree.

Posted by Setrak at September 16, 2012 3:09 AM ET:

Hey, Terry; General "Betrayus"? Really? Did you really just say that?

It's okay to apologize for saying something dumb.

Posted by Charu at September 16, 2012 3:11 AM ET:

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I agree that this was just an excuse for the Islamic rage boys to rampage, but it is the equivalent of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater.

Posted by Port_Blair at September 16, 2012 4:08 AM ET:

The safety of a multiple US and allied personnel on the GND in AfPak is far far more important than Terry Jones. The life of a soldier or diplomat is
sacrosanct- respond with 1000x force not 100x.
Do not think of us for a nanosecond as apologists.
I believe with
Pakistan say there needs to a gap between dialogue
and consequent action - keep Kayani in guessing mode.
Allow the demonstrations to continue but eliminate the Quetta Shura and the TTP. Eliminate Hamid Gul!

Posted by Westie at September 16, 2012 8:27 AM ET:

This makes 3 Senior US Generals leading an active war; Dempsey, Petraeus and John Allen who have either expressed disdain to the principles of the US Constitution or become active supporters of the enemy or are all 3 abject failures in understanding and fighting this war.
IT IS TIME FOR THESE MEN TO GO!

Posted by Steve M at September 16, 2012 7:03 PM ET:

Charu, I am very disappointed with your last comment, I wouldn't expect to hear that statement from you. According to your logic, If I made a film depicting Hitler as an evil psychopath and a bunch of neo-nazis went on a rampage and killed some people because of it, I should be arrested and prosecuted for it? If the nation of Islam can stand on a street corner and spew hatred and racism without the fear of being arrested than so can these morons that made this movie. I am sure there are a lot of good muslims, I've had the pleasure to meet some, but if I hear one more time that Islam is a religion on peace I am gonna throw up on whoever says it. Actions speak louder that words!

Posted by Stephen Walsh at September 16, 2012 9:07 PM ET:

Islamic violence is not "caused by" movies, cartoons, books or any other form of expression. It is caused by people whose hearts are malformed by hatred. Their excuses are endless, and its time we stand up for the belief that human life is more sacred than religious books or beliefs.

Posted by Kent Gatewood at September 16, 2012 10:47 PM ET:

Jones is irrelevant. The short movie has been made and released. Jones did neither.

The administration has approached YouTube, and has been rebuffed.

Page and Brin are the parties to reproach if one doesn't like free speech, not Jones.

Posted by destab at September 16, 2012 11:37 PM ET:

Hate Speech ain't Free Speech.
To get the reaction that you would expect from offended Islamists is just like poking a tiger and leaving the cage for someone else to get eaten.
Innocent people, good people died because of a poorly produced YT video. The consequences weren't faced by the people who spoke and that is a crime surely.
The maker then hurrys off too scared to show his face.
This wasn't free speech as it was intended but a perverted twist of the orginal ideal. Just like extremist religions and those free to choose to follow them.
This is a modern problem the General was thinking of the possible casualities taken because of the thoughtless act of supporting hate.
I'm not a supporter of liberal thinking but I know two wrongs don't make a right.

Posted by Sgt at September 17, 2012 4:06 AM ET:

You all mention freedom of speech as an absolete. None of you mentions ethics, moral standards and normal civilized behaviour.

I certainly don't agree that what we are fighting for is the right to say whatever we want, at any time, at any cost. I'd like to believe that what I went to Afghanistan for (as one of many reasons) , was to promote civilized life standards in every way. I dare to say that either reaction in this matter has been civilized.

In this world that feeds on destillation of human material, I think it a shame, that everyone so keenly jump on the bandwagon, of misconcieved patriotic behavior.

I'm not condoning the behavior of radical muslims burning flags, and I don't condone making equally distasteful movies - eventhough it may be their right.

Posted by More Liberty at September 17, 2012 11:25 AM ET:

You people spewing contempt for free speech are disgusting. We have the Bill of Rights, and the US Constitution for a reason - and this what our military personnel should be protecting, not some third-world savages that live in the 8th century. Bring the troops home, and guard out own borders.

Posted by David at September 17, 2012 11:04 PM ET:

@ destab, @Sgt

You say that the perpetrators of the film are immoral, and are largely at fault. Ok, you are right. They are.
But the world in general, and the United States in particular, are filled with this kind of nut. If someone in the US does this kind of immoral act, are you willing to put them in jail? Do you want to start putting nuts in jail for hateful speech? There are millions, only a few are related to the various Islamic issues, and now you have given the people in power an extremely powerful weapon to start imposing speech codes on the public.

Is this bad? You might be in favor of such things, as they are in practice in some western countries. They are also in practice at certain universities over here. And when this is the case, such a potent weapon in the hands of political people will always be used to further the various political agendas. In the hands of right wingers, you will almost certainly get patriotism/religion/slander-against-business codes, which will limit how much you can criticize the military, burn flags, make "Piss Christ" paintings, or protest against the banks. In the hands of left-wingers, you get the impermissibility of any criticism of any minority group, no matter how obnoxious -- I remind of the case of the kid who was expelled from university for calling some loud girls outside his dorm "water buffaloes", when he was trying to sleep. Turns out they were a minority, and his gibe was interpreted as a racial slur, and out he went.

That's why we have free speech, here.

Posted by george at September 18, 2012 11:39 AM ET:

I dont see anything wrong with an American calling Jones. I am a bit uncomfortable with one of our Gen'ls calling him. The military should stay out of any issue that might cross the line of influencing constitutional rights. I know the reason he did it and I might have done the same thing. We all know Americans do not respect any of our politicians so Dempsey I am sure was asked by (name any politician here) to call. But at the end of the day...why are we fighting a war at all if not to protect our way of life and our constitutional rights?? They are not attacking us because of some movie or some other nut saying something. They're attacking us because they hate everything about us and understand nothing of freedom...especially our constitution. If it wasnt a movie it would be something else.

Posted by kimball at September 18, 2012 12:00 PM ET:


You don,t see demonstrations all over the world normally, you tube pulled et.cet, but keep producing
amateurmovis for feee speach sake and a lot of people will lose their lives for no real reason.
To me it is to aide the enemy.

Posted by Grant Highland at September 18, 2012 12:32 PM ET:

Makes one wonder what kind of passions and offense the Pentagon's stance on openly homosexual service is raising in Muslim lands. So the Pentagon can advocate a policy that directly counters Koranic text on one hand, yet attempt to stifle the constitutionally guaranteed rights of a free citizen to speak against Islam on the other? This is what happens when logic leaves the debate and the whims of "offense" take the fore.

He swore to support and defend the constitution, not stifle someone's rights under that document. And make no mistake: Calling in his official capacity as the highest ranking military officer in the U.S. was an attempt to intimidate Terry Jones into silence.

And guess what? I'm offended by the savages over there and the hatred they spew! Do I go into a frothing frenzy and murderous rage? Of course not, but I'm beginning to think that's exactly what Christians, Jews, Atheists, and U.S. citizens ought to do. A full and throaty defense of what we hold dear is the only appropriate response to this attempt at intimidation. GEN Dempsey is wrong and needs to be replaced. Now!

Posted by thiet ke noi that at September 19, 2012 2:23 AM ET:

I believe with
Pakistan say there needs to a gap between dialogue
and consequent action - keep Kayani in guessing mode

Posted by Port Blair at September 19, 2012 2:35 PM ET:

@ More Liberty

I understand your outrage and
I know 95% of Americans feel the way you do.
Gen, Dempsey is reflecting the position of the WH perhaps not his own. The US needs to think
like Meir Dagan whom I greatly admire.
There are really 2 scenarios - let Terry Jones continue and risk a prolonged series of protests - culminating in
serious armed conflict. The second is preferable
in fact it is the more ruthless way- curb all
provocation but use devastating force against any and
all in Pakistan. The drone targeting should now move eastward and actually target ISI, LET, TTP,
JuD and include Imran Khan. I feel in this case
deviousness is the need of the hour.