Here’s the crux of the matter, in a Dutch official’s warning about anti-Muslim film whose showing is expected to cause rioting:
‘It is difficult to anticipate the content of the film, but freedom of expression doesn’t mean the right to offend,’ said Maxime Verhagen, the Foreign Minister, who was in Madrid to attend the Alliance of Civilisations, an international forum aimed at reducing tensions between the Islamic world and the West.
How so? Because freedom to offend is at the heart of free speech. Rubber does not meet the road when no one’s offended, no one objects, only when someone objects. Else it’s meaningless.
If he had talked up “fire” in a crowded theater, there would at least have been arguments to make.