In the United States, freedom of speech is a right of the people recognized in our Constitution. Moreover, what we say is not an official position of the government, nor is it normally subject to any government control. The people of many other countries, where the government exercises a degree of censorship over what can be printed or broadcast, may have difficulty understanding the situation in the US.
Although freedom of speech is a right of the people affirmed in our Constitution, the limit of this right is the often cited prohibition against yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, precisely because it endangers the lives of others. There is a fine line between the two. That is exactly the line that seems to have been crossed by the foolish makers of the Mohammed film. To portray a Muslim, especially Mohammed, as a pedophile and homosexual seems to be one of the more serious insults that can be directed against that cultural group. It appears to have been the intent of the filmmakers. The slight to their manhood did not go unnoticed in the Muslim world.
The Mohammed film did not represent the views of Americans, nor was it filmed by an American of European descent, but by an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian. I suspect the subsequent reaction in the Muslim world was exactly what he intended. Why not ask the Egyptian Coptic Christians what they think? It seems that this is a matter that concerns Muslims and Coptic Christians, not us. The film is nothing but trash and most Americans know that. The director, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is a moron with a criminal record.
The reaction of Muslims is quite different from that of Americans when their religion is insulted in such a manner. A few years ago an African-American “artist” exhibited a Christian crucifix immersed in a jar of urine and called it “Piss Christ.” Many Christians were offended but did not riot. Conversely, I think that if a Caucasian put a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. in a bottle of urine and called it “Piss King” you would hear howls of anger and accusations of racism from the African-American community.
However, to portray the subsequent reaction in Muslim countries as solely the result of the film is to ignore the intense Muslim animosity toward the US, including in Egypt, which has existed long before this film appeared. The Obama administration is doing everything it can to convince us that the unrest is due entirely to the movie and not, of course, to our benevolent and altruistic policies toward our friends in the Muslim world. The press is supporting him right down the line.