SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 14 Reuters – Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where U.S. embassies have been stormed by protestors enraged over depiction of the Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and philanderer.
Apropos of our conversation last week about the limits of free speech (both on and off the Internet), here is an article in the Atlantic that discusses free speech protections in relationship to the recent events in Libya and Egypt.
“Sam Bacile” and Terry Jones may be hateful, but they are not, as far as we know, criminals. The impulse to argue that repeat offender Jones in particular has somehow overstepped a line and, as commenters across the web have put it, “shouted fire in a crowded theater,” is tempting and understandable, both as an emotional response and as an intellectual one. From a distance, the line between protected speech and incitement seems blurry.
So why was a trainee accountant of entirely blameless character arrested in front of his colleagues, questioned by police, charged by the Crown Prosecution Service, convicted, fined £1,000, fired from his job, and left dependent on the goodwill of celebrities, the donations of internet users and the tenacity of a legal blogger to put his life back together – all over one flippant tweet?