John: You are correct about the law, as Brandenberg v. US proved. Hate speech is indeed still legal. But Ben was right about the tenor of our times. And the self-imposed censorship we suffer is much more dangerous than anything the government has ever thought of doing.
Case in point: how many media outlets, other than Brit Hume’s show (and, I recall vaguely, John Gibson’s) showed the Danish Mohamed cartoons? Which newspapers, or even websites, reprinted them? I can’t recall a single newspaper and only a few websites. Why? Because of the fear that the radical Islamists had engendered.
Intimidation is the enemy. What Ben pines for is what we all wish to recur: a resurgence of American pride and conscience. Yes, banning flag burning isn’t the highest priority that should occupy our 535 members of congress. Yes, we must always be wary of limits on free speech. But no, we cannot allow the evolution of political correctness into intimidation that is now befalling us.
At this rate, it may be the most American thing to insult someone on the 4th of July. I have a long list of likely targets. I’d better get busy.