This state of affairs in which the country that those colonists formed became and remains one of the very few places in the world, even among Western democracies, where freedom of speech is absolute, came about through stirring speeches, deeply felt debates, classical ideas and a passionate political culture-- but most of all it came about because large numbers of people were willing to kill over it.
Currently large numbers of people are willing to kill over the idea that Islam is the supreme religion, that Mohammed is a deity whom all mankind should respect and that the infidels living in the suburban sprawl of a thoroughly explored continent should accept that or die. Our government calls those people a tiny minority of extremists. Our unofficial name for them is, "Muslims."
Laws are decided by many things, but sweep away all the lawbooks, the pleas from tearful mothers, the timed publicity campaigns, the novel legal theories and the greedy bureaucrats expanding their turf, and under the table you will find a gun. The first and final law is still the law of force. The law begins with the power to impose its will on others. It ends with the enforcement of that power.
Law either has force behind it or it does not, and if it has no force behind it then it is an optional thing that is subject to custom. And every now and then the law is challenged, not with novel legal theories or with petitions, but with force, and it either responds with force or submits to a new law. That is what we call revolution.
Islam has made laws that it expects all of mankind to abide by. These laws are not backed by novel legal theories or by petitions, though its practitioners are willing to offer both, they are backed by the naked practice of force. And the imposition of these laws can only be defended against by force.
We are no longer led by revolutionary believers in the freedom of man, but by revolutionary believers in the submission of man to the higher principles that make their utopian sandcastles possible. They cannot honestly draw a red line on freedom, not when they have crossed it so many times themselves for their own agendas. They believe in a variety of rights, but all of those rights involve imposing their ideas and beliefs on others, and that is something they have in common with the Muslim lawyers waving guns and black flags over our burning embassies. They might contemplate killing and dying for gay marriage or the right to put tobacco warnings on cigarettes, but not for the pure idea that anyone should be able to say anything that they want without regard to ideological alliances.
The lawyers who run all our national affairs have chosen to respond to the Islamic legal briefs of bombs and bullets with the equivocation with which they meet all difficult questions. They will not abandon the principle of freedom of speech, but they will lock up the filmmaker whose imprisonment the murderous Muslim legalists called for. They will not censor YouTube, but they will encourage YouTube to censor itself. They will not ban speech that offends Islam, but they will strongly condemn and discourage it.
These equivocators offer to abandon the practice of freedom so long as they are allowed to retain the theory of freedom. The Bill of Rights will not change, but as in the Soviet Union it will not apply. The authorities will pay lip service to the freedoms that we only think we have until we actually try to use them and then we will discover that we don't actually have any of these freedoms left in stock.
In theory America will be an independent country, in practice it will be a vassal state of the Muslim world whose displays of outrage will be our law telling us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot think, and what we can and cannot do.
This is the typical kind of bargain that decadent empires make with the barbarous warlords on their doorstep. The empire will keep its splendor and its titles, while the barbarians will tell the empire what to do. Eventually the warlords will rule the empire, but that will only come as a shock to the citizenry who were too dazzled by the pageantry of power to realize that power is not defined by its display, but by its usage. Power is law and where there is no power, there is also no law, and those who have the power also make the laws.
What is the difference between American law and Muslim law? There are a great many differences, but the only one that matters is the difference between Constantinople and Istanbul. The only reason that we do not have Muslim law is that Muslims have not yet succeeded in forcing it on us, as they have already done to a sizable percent of the peoples and cultures of the world. That difference will be eliminated the moment that they succeed in doing so.
Law is not some mystical or technical affair. At its most basic it is the school bully demanding a cut of your lunch money in perpetuity. It is the ability to force someone to do something for some reason. Law can be high-minded, it can be moral or it can be a mob demanding that you imprison anyone who offends Mohammed. This is school bully law and it is as valid as any other kind because the distinctions that legal theorists make have no relevance in the face of the law of force.
A demand for a code of conduct backed by violence is law. It is not our law, it is not the law of the civilized man, but it is the law that we are slowly adopting. It is the law of the decadents appeasing the savages. Its only real content warns against offending the savage on the grounds that this will have negative consequences for our soldiers, our billboards, our image in the world and our embassies. And that is the law of the savage mediated by all the fine useless intellectualization of the decadent.
Under this code, Muslim violence dictates our permissible forms of speech. To know whether a thing may be said, drawn or filmed, we must first determine how Muslims will react to it. If they will react with violence, as they do to a sizable percentage of things, then it becomes incitement, retroactively, that must be punished and condemned.
Muslim violence has become our law. It is the law of action which determines our laws of speech. To understand what we can say, we first have to decide what Muslims will do about it. A long long time ago, perhaps less than twenty years ago, our government would meet their action with an action of its own, it would meet force with force. The British government did not do that with Salman Rushdie, instead it got him to read a statement apologizing for his book, but perhaps ours would have done better. Probably not.
When we were revolutionaries, our government saw force as a way of dealing with other countries who wanted to tell Americans what to do. But since then our government has really gotten used to telling us what to do. Occasionally it invades other countries in the name of some global consensus that claims to be able to treat countries the way that our government treats us and tell them what to do.
Lately that consensus, which we can call the United Nations, the International Community or an International Disease of Corrupt Bureaucrats and Power Mad Utopians, has been telling our government that it needs to tell us what we can and cannot say. And our government has no response except to mumble something about the First Amendment, which it doesn't really believe in anymore, but since it's had no luck getting rid of the Second Amendment, it isn't about to try with the First, and urges the consensus and the murderous mobs to work with us to arrive at an agreement that we can all live with. And by "we", I don't mean us.
In a world where jet planes rapidly crisscross the planet and bombs can be embedded in anything, where companies and non-profits both lust for immigrants and unstable Third World societies export their instability to First World societies as immigration, where corporations have offices everywhere and national interest is just a fancy way of saying international trade relationships, the primary law becomes maintaining the stability of a broken system and containing its inherent violence.
The lawyers running the system will not defend national interests because they don't believe in them, they won't defend freedom because they don't believe in it, they will defend the system because it is the only thing that they do believe in. And they will defend it at the point where it is easiest to defend, not from the attacking Muslims, but from the natives who appear to be making them angry.
Would you rather fight a billion violent madmen or arrest a filmmaker? The answer is very simple. Forget Theodore Roosevelt's "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead". The Obama motto is "It's okay if Perdicaris is dead, so long as Raisuli isn't too mad at us."
Forget the Bill of Rights, a document thrown together by agrarian utopianists worried about central government. Our new breed of lawyer-kings is composed of urban utopianists ruling through central government. To them the Bill of Rights is a piece of incomprehensible lunacy that prevents them from getting anything done. They are not concerned with rural government trespasses, they are worried about bombs and riots in their cities and they are terrified of their global goals being sabotaged by some movie trailer.
They are making Muslim violence into our new law, just as they made urban violence into our new law, just as they have made their own bureaucratic mandates backed by SWAT teams and prisons into our new law.
The age when laws were made by men, rather than machines of social progress composed of lawyers and activists, bureaucrats and think-tanks, lobbyists and judges, is long since gone. There is no law in our laws, but the law of force. The Constitution sits on a dusty shelf while the judges bang their gavels and practice the law that mandates something because those in power want it that way.
And now our utopian lawyer-kings, our armies of bleeding-heart social justice activist, our legions of bureaucrats stamping their papers over our skulls, our grinning black-robed activist judges wielding their gavels like swords, are cringing in terror before a Muslim mob. The bullies who have bullied us for so long have proven to be cowards. While they dismantle our army to sell it for scraps so that the EPA and HUD and the cowboy poetry festivals can get their billions, they order us to fall on our knees before the Army of Allah.
The liberal bullies who bullied us for so long have been successfully bullied and have handed us over to the bully's bully. But bullies, of the liberal or Muslim kind, are cowards. Their bullying only works until they are successfully bullied and without their threat of force, their laws wither and blow away on the wind.