Here in the United States, we treasure our freedoms. Our Constitution (well, actually, the Bill of Rights) enshrines a long series of cherished freedoms that make this country the one that people will risk death to enter illegally. You don't see a serious illegal immigration problems in garden spots like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, after all.
We have entire organizations devoted to defending our freedoms: the ACLU strongly defends freedoms in general, the NRA strongly defends the freedom to maintain a personal arsenal, and the Congress strongly defends the freedom to contribute vast amounts of money with which to buy elections. Unfortunately, we don't have an organization which strongly defends the concepts of responsibility and ... for want of a better term ... smart.
By now, you have heard of the latest outpouring of religious insanity from the Middle East, sparked by a shadowy moron who produced a silly and insulting film he had to know was going to cause a violent reaction in large parts of the world where "freedom of religion" means "freedom to believe this religion only." Someone named "Sam Bacile" (evidently one alias used by a person with a criminal record who has many other aliases), claiming (falsely, as it seems) to be an Israeli Jew living in America, financed a low-budget film that was both sophomoric and - this is the key point - extraordinarily insulting to Muslims ... who in any case are quick to take offense - frequently of a very violent nature - at perceived insults to their religion.
We cherish our freedom of speech. We pride ourselves on our right to worship God (or not) in any way we choose. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the world doesn't see things that way. In many places, freedom of worship means only the freedom to worship according to the approved religion, and freedom of speech is constrained by the requirement to avoid insult to the nation or to particular groups.
Across the Middle East, people who are unlikely ever to have seen the film produced by Mr Bacile (or whoever he is) are burning our embassies and murdering Americans. They are motivated more by blind religious fervor than by love and compassion for their fellow man.
They, like all who react violently against those of different faiths, are every bit as disgusting and reprehensible as Mr Bacile.
They are exercising their Freedom of Stupid.
I don't think you can view your religion as "merciful and compassionate" when it serves as an excuse to resort to violence in the face of perceived insult. The Bible (Luke, Chapter 6, Verse 29) encourages peaceful response to insult, saying
"And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also."
Christians ... and all people of good will ... are encouraged to turn the other cheek. Unfortunately, there are those who live by another version of the Biblical injunction ...
"He turned the other cheek, so I hit him with my other fist."
I'd like to think that we could all agree to live together peacefully, regardless of how we choose to worship God (or not). Sadly, this is unlikely to happen. As long as people of any religion are motivated more by blind faith and a spring-loaded violent reaction to insult than by love for their fellow man, we will continue to see inexcusable acts like those unfolding in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and other places.
We'll continue to be driven by blind defense of our cherished Freedom of Stupid.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.