Why We Tolerate Hateful Speech

Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page says, "Hate-mongers and race-baiters have new media power, but the rest of us don't need to take the bait."

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Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page says, "Hate-mongers and race-baiters have new media power, but the rest of us don't need to take the bait."

Outrage over the rude and crude video fueled violent protests at U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya.

Although it was not at all clear who was behind the blasphemy, protesters blamed the United States for allowing it to be posted on YouTube. Even Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who took two days to come out with a condemnation of the violence, also condemned the online provocateurs by calling on President Barack Obama "to put an end to such behavior." ...

Who's behind the video? Conspiracy theories abound. Claims by a man who identified himself to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal as the film's director, "Sam Bacile," proved to be bogus. AP later found evidence from federal law enforcement officials and other sources that suggest he is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a California-based Coptic Christian with a criminal history for bank fraud.

Regardless of who's responsible, the fact that any provocateur with Internet access can spark religious warfare should cause the world to stop and think. The free flow of information and opinions — for good or evil — is a fact of life. To avoid chaos, reasonable people of all faiths need to make themselves heard — with reason, not violence.

Read Clarence Page's entire piece at the Chicago Tribune.

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