Fox News’ Megyn Kelly took the free speech argument to former Gov. Jeb Bush in an interview that aired Monday, demanding to know why the Republican presidential contender wasn’t more supportive of events like the “Draw Muhammad” contest in Texas that was attacked by two terrorist.
In response, Bush told Kelly he thought Pamela Geller’s “Draw Muhammed” contest wasn’t “necessarily appropriate,” and wouldn’t call her a hero for exercising her First Amendment rights.
In the wide-ranging “The Kelly File” interview, Kelly asked the potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination where he stood in the debate between provoking terror and liberty.
“I think it’s about both,” Bush said. “I think the First Amendment, and freedom — freedom of expression — trumps everything else.”
However, Bush told Kelly, it’s not “necessarily appropriate” to hold an event knowing it could provoke a violent reaction from radical Muslims.
Two terrorists, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, drove to Garland, Texas to murder the audience at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest Geller hosted.
Armed with rifles and body armor, both were shot and killed after exchanging fire with police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Simpson and Soofi “two soldiers of the caliphate.”
Kelly pressed Bush, asking “Why is it inappropriate? Why not stand up to the terrorists and say we’re going to draw what we want to draw?”
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Bush answered, explaining that the bigger problem is that America has homegrown terrorists, who “can receive a tweet, or receive an email, and provoke them to drive a thousand miles” to go kill people.
Bush called for vigilance, and said America can’t tolerate “terrorists in the making” in our country.
“The guy who’s the hero in this isn’t Mrs. Geller,” he said. “It’s the police officer, who shot these two guys dead.”
“That’s the guy we ought to admire.”
The police officers in Garland were only doing their jobs. Geller knew that her contest would be “a poke in the eye to Muslims” when she announced the event in February.
“We know the risks,” she wrote. “Of course, this event will require massive security. But this exhibit has to be staged. If we don’t show the jihadis that they will not frighten us into silence, the jihad against freedom will only grow more virulent.“
Bush’s statements imply that he is trying to ride both sides of the fence on freedom of speech. If the First Amendment “trumps everything,” then exercising free speech and standing up to terrorists should always be appropriate.