In a debate that took place on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday, co-host Chris Cuomo debated American Freedom Defense Initiative founder Pamela Geller about the merits of her efforts regarding free speech in America, particularly as it involves the Prophet Mohammed.
Cuomo suggested drawing Mohammed is analogous to using to “n-word, to which Geller called “nonsense.”
Partial transcript as follows:
CUOMO: Now, we get into, why did it happen? They’re crazy extremists. They bought into an ideology that is sick and negative and wrong, that’s fact. But what you did was calculated in a way that would be provocative.
CUOMO: This isn’t about not showing, because we’re afraid. It’s about whether it’s right or not. The “N” word gets treated the same way that depictions of Mohammed does.
CUOMO: We don’t say it because it’s offensive, not because legally I can’t.
GELLER: You are adhering to the Islamic law.
CUOMO: It’s not really an explicit part of Sharia law.
GELLER: The media is enormously (ph) offensive — since when you are sensitive to being offensive? The things you say about me are hateful and bigoted.
CUOMO: What did I say about you that is hateful and bigoted?
GELLER: The things that the media said about the — calling Tea Party racist is offensive. Since when do you care about being offensive? You are adhering to the Sharia.
CUOMO: There’s a big difference between criticizing something and saying something that you know is ultimately offensive. Let’s stick with the “N” word analogy. We don’t use it because you don’t like it.
GELLER: No, it’s analogous.
CUOMO: It’s inconvenient. How is it not?
GELLER: It’s not, it’s a cartoon. The cartoon is political opinion.
CUOMO: It’s offensive to a group of people.
GELLER: You’re talking — it violates Islamic law. That’s what you’re doing.
CUOMO: It is not explicit Sharia law. It is a cultural adaptation. And it is real. But it’s not like —
GELLER: I encourage all of your viewers to go to pamelageller.com, and look at the cartoon, and you will see what Chris is comparing to the “N” word. It’s outrageous. It’s a dishonest narrative and I am not going to debate —
CUOMO: Wait, why do people come and attack you? Why do they say it’s offensive? Why do they not do it? They say culturally they believe —
GELLER: No, they are trying to impose a Sharia and you’re adhering to it.
CUOMO: It’s not in just Sharia, it’s not the way it is.
GELLER: That’s exactly what it is.
CUOMO: Is that we see it as being offensive. It’s why we don’t use any derisive comments about people.
GELLER: I’m not a Muslim. I don’t adhere to Sharia law. I don’t see it as being offensive. Many of the —
CUOMO: And that’s why you have the right to do it, but don’t say just because you have the right to do it, that means it’s going to be inoffensive to all who see it and there is no price along with saying it.
GELLER: I’m saying free speech is the most protective speech under the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects ideas we don’t like.
CUOMO: No one says you don’t have the right.
GELLER: It’s not ideas that we like, because that’s easy. But ideas that we don’t like because who would decide what couldn’t —
CUOMO: But nobody says you can’t do it.
GELLER: Who would decide what’s good and what’s forbidden? The jihadist?
CUOMO: But here’s the thing —
GELLER: I didn’t make the cartoons a flash point.
CUOMO: I understand that. Well, that’s debatable. That’s debatable.
GELLER: You are kowtowing. You are submitting. I will not submit. Submission is slavery and I will not live as a slave. That’s what you are asking me to do.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor