If anything, the official U.S. reaction has boosted the value of attacks against American free expression. Hassan Sanei, the head of Iran’s state-run institute 15 Khordad raised the bounty on novelist Salman Rushdie’s head by $500,000, to $3.3 million, on September 16. In Pakistan, a country that receives more than $1 billion in U.S. aid per year, a government minister offered a $100,000 bounty for the “noble cause” of murdering the men behind Innocence of Muslims.
How did the White House respond to this bloodthirsty affront? “The President and Secretary of State have both said the video at the core of this is offensive, disgusting, and reprehensible,” the State Department said, “but that is no justification for violence, and it is important for responsible leaders to stand up and speak out against violence.”
The rioters busy trying to kill Americans want the U.S. government to single out the makers of a trashy video for criticism and even prosecution. Amazingly, Washington has complied at every turn, instead of forthrightly explaining our constitutional value of free speech.