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Noah Feldman

The Moral Problem With a Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Did organizers of Texas event expect a violent response?
The aftermath.

The aftermath.

Photographer: Ben Torres/Getty Images

It was morally wrong for two men to attack an anti-Islam installation last weekend in Garland, Texas, and no one should mourn the death of these terrorists. But what about deliberately provoking the assault by staging a competition for the most insulting caricature of the Prophet Muhammad? Was that morally wrong? Or was it just a reasonable exercise of the right to free speech?

It’s easy to be distracted by the condemnation of the crime, which should be absolute. No verbal provocation can justify killing.