Friday, January 07, 2005

"Where Are the Free-Speech Squealers?

Best of the Web Today - January 6, 2005

On Dec. 2, 2003, the Tucson Citizen published a letter to the editor that harshly criticized America's conduct of the war in Iraq. The following month, a group of local residents, offended by the letter, filed a lawsuit against the paper alleging 'intentional infliction of emotional distress.' The newspaper asked a local judge, Leslie Miller, to throw out the suit on First Amendment grounds, but she refused. Now, the Associated Press reports, the Arizona Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn Judge Miller's ruling.
OK, so here's the question: Where are all the free-speech alarmists? You remember, the folks who cried 'Censorship!' when supporters of America had the temerity to criticize the Dixie Chicks, or when Ari Fleischer suggested, in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, that people might want to choose their words carefully? Here we have a case in which a newspaper is actually getting hauled into court for publishing a critical letter to the editor, and we've heard little but silence from the free-speech crowd.
Maybe the content of the letter explains why. The AP reports the letter 'suggested American soldiers in Iraq respond to attacks on them by killing Muslims at nearby mosques.' The plaintiffs in the suit are 'fearful Tucson Muslims' who said they decided 'to keep their children home from religious schools' because they were intimidated by the letter. The judge ruled that, in her words, 'reasonable minds could differ in determining whether the publication of the letter rose to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct.'
Well, maybe. The newspaper's editor"

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