It is not always right to say what one has a right to say.
Thus one of my aphorisms. It is worth unpacking, however, especially in the light of the incident at Garland, Texas.
First of all, the following is not a logical contradiction: You have a right to say X but you ought not say X. For you may have a legal right, but no moral right, or what you have a legal right to say may be highly imprudent to say. In fact, it may be so imprudent that moral and not merely prudential considerations become relevant.
So while Pamela Geller & Co. undoubtedly had the legal right to express themselves by hosting a cartoon fest in mockery of Muhammad, it is at least a legitimate question, one whose answer is not obvious, whether their doing so was morally acceptable.
On the one side are those who say that it was not morally acceptable given the high likelihood that violence would erupt. Indeed, that is what happened. Luckily, however, the Muslim savages1 were shot dead, and only one non-savage was wounded. But it might have been worse, much worse. Innocent passersby might have been caught in the cross-fire; the shooter who dispatched the Islamist fanatics might not have been such a good shot and a long melee may have ensued; the Islamists might have shown up with heavier armament and killed all the cartoonists; they might have laid waste to the entire neighborhood, etc. We know from bitter world-wide experience what the barbarians of Islam are capable of. Do you recall, for example, the Taliban's destruction of the ancient Buddhist statuary?
On the other side are those who insist that we must not engage in what they call 'self-censorship.' We must not limit or curtail the free exercise of our liberties in the face of savages who behead people because of a difference in political and theological views.
So what is the correct view?
Suppose that Muslim reaction to the mockery and defamation of their prophet was just as nonviolent as Christian reaction to the mockery and defamation of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Then I would condemn as immoral the mockery and defamation of Muhammad. I would invoke my aphorism above. There are things that one is legally entitled to say and do that one must not, morally speaking, say or do.
Example. There is no law against private drunkenness, nor should there be; but it is immoral to get drunk to the point of damaging the body. The same goes for gluttonous eating. Closer in, we cannot and ought not have laws regulating all the inter-personal exchanges in which people are likely to mock, insult, and generally show a lack of respect for one another. And yet it is in general surely wrong to treat people with a lack of respect even if the lack of respect remains on the verbal plane. If you don't accept these examples, provide your own. If you say that there are no examples, then you are morally and probably also intellectually obtuse and not in a position to profit from a discussion like this.
So if the Muslim and Christian reactions to mockery and defamation were both physically nonviolent, then, invoking my aphorism above, I would condemn the activities of Geller and Co. at Garland, Texas, and relevantly similar activities. But of course the reactions are not the same! Muslims are absurdly sensitive about their prophet and react in unspeakably barbaric ways to slights, real and imagined. Every Muslim? Of course not. (Don't be stupid.)
So I say we ought to defend Pamela Geller and her group.
My reason, again, is not that that I consider it morally acceptable to mock religious figures. After all, I condemned the Charlie Hebdo outfit and took serious issue with the misguided folk who marched around with Je Suis Charlie signs. Perpetually adolescent porno-punks should not be celebrated, but denounced. That the Islamo-head-chopper-offers are morally much worse than the porno-punks who make an idol of the free expression of their morally and intellectually vacuous narcissistic selves does not justify the celebration of the latter.
The reason to defend Geller is because, in the present circumstances in which militant Muslims and their leftist enablers attack the the values of the West -- which are not just Western values, but universal values -- including such values as free expression and toleration, the deadly threat from the Islamist barbarians justifies our taking extreme measure in defense of values whose implementation will prove beneficial for everyone, including Muslims and their benighted leftist fellow-travellers.
1. If you understand the English language, then you understand that 'Muslim savages' does not imply that all Muslims are savages any more than 'rude New Yorker' implies that all New Yorkers are rude.