Did these words really come out of the mouth of a US State Department official?

Could this be serious? It was reported on the front page of Dawn, in Pakistan. My computer’s been broken for two days, so I haven’t been able to check the news. Has there been any wide reaction to this?

WASHINGTON: The United States has strongly supported Pakistan’s move to ban certain internet sites, saying the Pakistani government had the right to protect its public from offensive images and speech.

Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, apparently, said:

… “Pakistan is wrestling to this issue. We respect any actions that need to be taken under Pakistani law to protect their citizens from offensive speech,” said the US State Department official while rejecting a suggestion from a journalist to condemn Islamabad’s actions.

If he really said this, and if no one in the West has noticed he said it — and gone appropriately insane about it — we’re doomed.

  1. Del Simmons

    Unfortunately, Ms. Berlinkski, we are being shown again the soft bigotry of low expectations. Why should people in Pakistan expect a free flow of ideas in their country? They are a predominantly Muslim country, so their government’s desire to censor free speech is fine because they are trying to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities.

    Our government has shown again and again that we’re perfectly willing to stand by and watch freedom of speech curtailed in other countries when the underlying motive is to avoid making the natives too restless. When people speak out against such things we’re told that we’re being culturally insensitive.

    Sad..

  2. Aaron Miller

    This appears to be what State Department official actually said:

    “Governments have a responsibility to protect freedom of expression and the free flow of information,” he said. “We respect any actions that need to be taken under Pakistani law to protect their citizens from offensive speech. At the same time, Pakistan has to make sure that in taking any particular action that you’re not restricting speech to the millions and millions of people who are connected to the Internet and have a universal right to the free flow of information.”

  3. Scott R

    That context provided by Aaron changes things a bit (though maybe just a wee bit). Is it also possible that the State Dept. is now a prisoner of its inabilty to utter the words “Islamic extremism;” that is, what if the sites that the Pakistani gov’t seeks to ban are radical Islamist in nature, but our diplomats are so hamstrung in addressing such issues that it leads to ambiguity? Just a thought.

  4. Andrea Ryan

    When the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with the suggestion of possibly allowing little itty, bitty cliterectomies I knew nothing was off limits anymore. Who cares about the Hippocratic Oath or Freedom of Speech?

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