Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. -Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation that Terry Jones’ inflammatory Koran burning may be an example of free speech that should be curtailed during a time of war.
Here's the exchange between host Bob Schieffer and Graham:
Schieffer : I want to get to this Afghanistan thing. General Petraues today condemned the actions of this Florida preacher who burned the Koran... Is there anything that actually can be done along this line?
Graham: You know I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. So burning a Koran is a terrible thing but it doesn’t justify killing someone. Burning a Bible would be a terrible thing but it wouldn’t justify murder.
Graham: But having said that, anytime we can push back here in America against actions like this that put our troops at risk we ought to do it. So I look forward to working with Sen. Kerry and Reid and others to condemn this, condemn violence all over the world based in the name of religion. But General [David] Petraeus understands better than anybody else in America what happens when something like this is done in our country and he was right to condemn it and I think Congress would be right to reinforce what General Petraeus said.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Petraeus said that the Koran burning “endangers the war effort,” elaborating:
“Every security force leader’s worst nightmare is being confronted by essentially a mob, if you will, especially one that can be influenced by individuals that want to incite violence, who want to try to hijack passions, in this case, perhaps understandable passions,” Gen. Petraeus said in the Sunday interview. “Obviously it’s an additional serious security challenge in a country that faces considerable security challenges.”
Do you agree with Graham that incendiary actions like Koran burning should potentially be banned during wartime? Are there other examples of “inspiring the enemy” that would justify limits on free speech?