The White House has asked YouTube to review an anti-Muslim film posted to the site that has been blamed for igniting the violent protests this week in the Middle East.
WaPo reports that YouTube already said the video didn’t violate its terms of services on Wednesday, but it has restricted access to the film in Libya and Egypt.
The spokesperson added, however, that the site restricted access in Libya and Egypt because of the unrest. “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier today, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated that the administration found the video “offensive and reprehensible and disgusting,” but added, “we cannot and will not squelch freedom of expression in this country.” When a reporter asked whether the White House ever asked YouTube to remove the video, he said that he wasn’t sure and punted on the question.
If the White House believes the video is “freedom of expression” that it “cannot and will not squelch,” then why is it asking YouTube to see if it can remove the film from its website?
This is a result of the dangerous precedent the Obama administration has set. Last year, administration officials personally petitioned a fringe pastor in Florida not to carry out a Koran burning they said would endanger our troops. There was a small public outcry, but not much — probably because many Americans are instinctively uncomfortable with book-burnings, even if they are protected expression.
But now the administration’s efforts to suppress free speech have spread to a YouTube video. A video that is admittedly moronic and offensive, but certainly no more so than thousands of other clips on the website.
Where does this lead? The list of things that offend radical Islamists is long. What happens next time fanatics riot and murder innocents over a film or a picture or a book? Is the White House going to make it a policy to condemn any mockery of Islam that radical clerics exploit to gin up outrage across the Muslim world?
By trying to get the video pulled, the White House isn’t just acknowledging that the film is offensive. It’s taking the posture that the film is illegitimate expression because it offends — and that violent rioting is a logical response to simply viewing the film. That U.S. policy has the potential to become a dangerous tool in the hands of Islamists.