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Everything Before the ‘But’ Is BS

In response to the Garland attack, if you really believe in free speech, don’t follow that with “but.”


Last night, the jihadists found out that you really don’t mess with Texas.

In Paris, if you set out to gun down cartoonists for a drawing pictures of Mohammed, you’re faced with unarmed or unprepared gendarmes who can’t stop you before you wipe out the whole staff of a magazine.

Try it in Garland, Texas, and you end up gunned down by the police right off the bat.

So jihadists the world over found out where America’s hard targets are. But the Garland attack also showed them where the soft targets are: in the American media. You can tell the soft targets because they’re the ones who begin sentences with “I believe in free speech, but….” Like this one:

Or this one:

Or my personal favorite, this one:

“Free speech aside.” From a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

It is, at least, a more honest formulation. Most of the other statements—and there were many others along this vein this morning—were couched as pro forma acknowledgements of freedom of speech, but for the “but.” There’s an old saying: Everything before the “but” is BS. (The old saying doesn’t use an abbreviation, but this is a family-friendly publication.) Everything before the “but” is a half-hearted disclaimer meant to soften the reader up before you get to your real message. And the real message here is: If Islamists try to kill you for violating their religious prohibitions, it’s your fault for provoking them.

Remember that the news story we’re all talking about is that a couple of ISIS wannabes tried to gun down people at an art exhibit because they disapproved of the art on display. Given that context, the big question is not, do you also approve of the art? The question is: should the people who made it be murdered? If the answer is “no,” then perhaps that ought to be the main clause of your sentence. When the mainstream left treats it as a subordinate clause, tacked on as an afterthought, they make us think it’s not really that important.

It’s like they’ve all been acting out the old Cox & Forkum cartoon:


And yes, in case you were curious, burqas do come in sizes.

Try substituting these formulations with some different examples. “I’m not condoning the rapists’ actions, but the girl was wearing a really short skirt.” Or: “I understand about free speech, but condemning Christianity, purely because you’re legally allowed to, is disgusting.” And so on.

Obviously, the problem here isn’t that the speech and actions at the Mohammed cartoon event were “provocative.” The problem was that they didn’t provoke the people the mainstream left would prefer to provoke. They provoked the people the left would like to appease.

So this has been another excellent opportunity for the left to come out against free speech. As I’ve been saying, they have no real concept of freedom, just a concept of an amorphous zone of socially acceptable speech. And everyone knows the de facto rule: anything that criticizes our own traditional culture is acceptable, anything that criticizes the culture and traditions of non-Westerners is unacceptable.

For those who really do understand about free speech, for those who really do not condone terrorist attacks on cartoonists, let me suggest a way you can show it. Reverse the order of your sentences. Don’t say things like this: “I support everyone’s right to free speech, but I don’t support when people are mocked.” Say, “I don’t agree with mocking religion, but I support everyone’s right to free speech.” It lets us know that you have the right priorities, that the part about freedom of speech is the part you really mean.

Because everything before the “but” is BS.

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