When The Examiner asked the American Society of News Editors for a statement on the issue, none was forthcoming. This despite the fact that the first sentence of ASNE’s Web site describes its mission as supporting “the First Amendment at home and free speech around the world.” We got a similar response from the Society of Professional Journalists, despite its dedication “to the perpetuation of the free press as the cornerstone of our nation and liberty.”
Freedom of speech and press are in deep trouble when the American government thinks the best it can do to protect a journalist from death threats is to counsel her to go into hiding, and when the elite voices of American journalism can’t be bothered to say anything in her defense…
Imagine what they would be saying if white-hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan were threatening to kill Norris in Selma, Ala., instead of radical Muslims in Seattle. Would the FBI tell Norris she had to stop being a journalist and go into hiding? And would ASNE and SPJ look the other way as the First Amendment and freedom of the press were symbolically turned to ashes by flaming white crosses?
The executive director of a local Islamic group in Seattle supports her and calls her “a very good, close friend to the Muslim community here.” That link comes via Jim Treacher, who wonders why it is that Terry Jones’s Koran-burning stunt was international news for a week and yet this woman’s forced disappearance from society for blasphemy is a page 38 curio in Seattle papers. Actually, I’m not so sure that death threats are required anymore to silence even mild provocateurs like Molly Norris: Apparently the cops down in Gainesville want Jones to foot the bill for their expenses during Koran week, which comes to the tidy sum of $200,000. So fearful were they of jihadists attacking that they had to ramp up patrols at the Florida football game, the local malls, etc, purely out of caution. Consider this the logical extension of the foolish rhetoric about Jones, rather than jihadists, supposedly endangering the troops: Rather than find ways to impose the costs of security on the truly dangerous parties, the cops are going to teach him a harsh lesson about just how high the cost of provocative speech can be. You might live, but you’ll be in the poorhouse afterwards. No wonder the journalist groups don’t want to comment.