The answer to offensive speech is always more speech.
Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American journalist, was arrested last week while defacing an advertisement in a New York subway she felt was offensive.
The ad read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
These words are offensive, but their author has the right to make them known.
To be clear, calling any person a savage gives the speaker permission to treat the subject as less than human — a gruesome possibility considering all the disgusting things we do to animals in this country.
The ad is also ignorant to claim that if you don’t support Israel as it steals land from its enemies, with assistance from the U.S., then you clearly support Jihad.
Nonetheless, silencing these views with force and destruction betrays America’s founding principles.
Eltahawy said her acts were her own “free expression,” but she should take a lesson from this famous expression: “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”
Eltahawy’s arrest changed the conversation. Instead of discussing whether the ads are offensive, the country is caught up with her actions and whether they were justified.
She would have done better to make her own ad, or a 30-second video on YouTube calling for people to stand up against the ad’s offensive language.
If someone says something you don’t like, speak louder.