– Barack Obama
Source of the Quote
Anti-American violence erupted in the Middle East on September 11, 2012. The violence was blamed on the recent release of an anti-Islamic video, “The Innocence of Muslims”. However, that claim was soon debunked and the “attacks” are now known by some as The Battle of Benghazi.
In a speech at the United Nations on September 21, 2012, Obama responded to those who believed the video should be banned by citing America’s long tradition of free speech and saying “As president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.”
Below is a longer excerpt from the speech to provide context for the quote. Here is a link to a transcript of the full speech.
Context from the Speech
“I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.
Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.
Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.
Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with.
We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened.
We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech; the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.”
View and download the full sized quote, here. The photograph was taken by U.S. Department of Defense Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley and released to the public domain. The quote was added by KNOWOL staff.
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