FNC’s Megyn Kelly Hits Back at ‘Draw Mohammad’ Contest Critics

On her Tuesday broadcast, Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” host Megyn Kelly took on critics of Pamela Geller’s “Draw Mohammad” contest who have suggested the event was an abuse of free speech.

Kelly set up her segment with “The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly’s criticism of the event, then debated her guest Richard Fowler on the merits of holding the event.

Partial transcript as follows:

KELLY: We have breaking news tonight on who was behind that weekend terror attack in Texas. And new fallout in the first amendment fight now raging over this case.


BILL O’REILLY, THE O’REILLY FACTOR HOST: This is what happens when you light the fuse. You get violence.

KELLY: Now, they — that’s — I — but you sound like you are defending.

O’REILLY: No, I’m not.

KELLY: … you are attacking the event itself.

O’REILLY: I would not — I would.

KELLY: Breaking tonight, one of the suspects in the attempted terror attack at a Texas Draw Muhammad event was reportedly in close contact with an ISIS recruiter for several months before Sunday’s shooting. These new developments come as we hear new questions about whether the group that was attacked somehow crossed a line arguably inviting it.


O’REILLY: By setting up a contest and awarding $10,000 for a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, the American Freedom Defense Initiative spurred a violent incident. That wasn’t smart even though the group has its supporters.

Mike, I’m withholding his last name, in Fairbanks, Alaska, wrote. Megyn Kelly was completely right and you were completely wrong O’Reilly. An event like this should be held daily. The Muslim world doesn’t like it, tough. Insulting the entire Muslim world is stupid, Mike, it does not advance the cause of liberty or get us any closer to defeating the savage Jihad.


KELLY: Joining me now, Richard Fowler, nationally syndicated radio talk show host. Richard, I say this to Bill. The relevant question is not, did those under attack say something offensive? The relevant question is, what do we do about a group that wants to kill us for exercising our constitutional rights? And you say?

RICHARD FOWLER, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is — I agree with Bill 100 percent, and for once in my life, I agree with Bill. But here’s the distinction. Let me parse your question just a little bit if I can. It’s because there’s one thing — yes, there are people (ph) who want to kill us. ISIS want to kill us. Al Qaeda want to kill us, but Muslims as a whole do not want to kill us, right?


FOWLER: And I think that’s part of the problem. So, when you go around and you depict “the who” they worship as some sort of character or some sort of cartoon, it’s offensive, and it’s wrong.

KELLY: Right, right. It’s offensive.


FOWLER: You would feel the same — I would feel the same way if some — I would feel the same say if somebody depicted Jesus as a crazy cartoon, right?

KELLY: Right. It’s offensive.

FOWLER: So, I think.

KELLY: But there’s no– but there’s no debate about whether it’s offensive. Everybody knows it’s offensive.

FOWLER: It is offensive and I think Gallagher was really — she was putting this on to create attention, to promote — to sort of promote her organization.

KELLY: Gellar.

FOWLER: Gellar, excuse me. And in fact.


KELLY: She was promoting — she — even if you hate her message.

FOWLER: Right.

KELLY: Even if you hate her message. She was promoting free speech. And as Rich Lowry put it in a column today, today, he writes, “Criticism of Islam is at the vanguard of the fight for free speech since it is susceptible to attack.

FOWLER: But Megyn, there’s nothing.

KELLY: And intimidation by Jihadists and calls for self-censorship.

FOWLER: There’s nothing — there’s nothing wrong.

KELLY: … and politically correct.”

FOWLER: There’s nothing wrong with free speech, as Donald Trump put it, “Be smart, not stupid.” Why would you invoke attacks on the people coming to your event? Doing something, so.


KELLY: Do you hear what you’re saying?

FOWLER: Not — something that’s so ridiculous.


KELLY: So, we in this country.

FOWLER: Ridiculous.

KELLY: We in this country need to limit our constitutional rights, we have to limit freedom of speech.

FOWLER: No, but to some extent.

KELLY: Let me finish — lest we invite attack or as O’Reilly put it, “Spur an attack against us.” That’s — that’s the way we need to be looking at this?

FOWLER: Listen, freedom of speech — freedom of speech is one — as you made it right but also comes with the freedom of religion, the freedom of press and freedom of association. Muslims should be free to worship just like Christians should be free to worship.

KELLY: As they are.

FOWLER: And freedom of speech.


KELLY: Let’s group come on that.

FOWLER: … comes then — freedom of speech with limits. And this is a clear limit.

KELLY: No, it isn’t.

FOWLER: It’s just like going into a theater.

KELLY: You’re totally wrong.

FOWLER: And yelling fire or walking into a black church and yelling the “n” word.


FOWLER: Neither of those things you would do that all the — offensive and they will invoke a reaction.

KELLY: You are fundamentally confused and wrong and the U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear on that.

FOWLER: I think you’re fundamentally wrong, Megyn. It doesn’t make any sense.


KELLY: Well, I prefer you to case. Why – why don’t you go back and look at — let’s go back to the church.


FOWLER: But this doesn’t — I mean, you can.


KELLY: Excuse me, Richard. I have.


FOWLER: You can talk about case as a case.


KELLY: You had your say, and now I will respond. The decision issued in 2011, 8-1, a nearly unanimous supreme court, the liberals and conservatives joining together, saying notwithstanding the fact that the Westboro Baptist Church, as hateful as they come, offered hurtful and speech which did not contribute hardly all to the public discourse. It was negligible value. Nevertheless, free speech still supposed allowing them to do it.

FOWLER: This is — but there’s the thing, Megyn.

KELLY: I think American people overwhelmingly for that principle.


FOWLER: … this is not about — this is — this is not about case law. This is about commonsense and.


KELLY: You said — you said.

FOWLER: … this organization.

KELLY: … you said that the limits of free speech.

FOWLER: … had lost their commonsense.

KELLY: … end here. And that this is.

FOWLER: … completely.

KELLY: … akin (ph) to yelling fire in a movie theater, which is not protected speech. And I am telling you.


FOWLER: Well, this is — it’s a loss of.


KELLY: … this is free speech.

FOWLER: … is a loss of commonsense. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would you — why would you paint a caricature of some — another group — another group’s god and say it’s OK and laugh at it and expect them not to respond.


KELLY: Why would you show up at the funeral of dead soldiers and say “God hates F-A-G-S?”

FOWLER: I don’t — I’m not — I’m not condoning the Westboro Baptist Church. I hate them as much as they hate this cruel. (CROSSTALK)

KELLY: The more offensive the speech is, Richard, the more protection it needs. That’s how the first amendment works.

FOWLER: Exactly. But it doesn’t mean you should do it.


KELLY: . we can defend the person and right to say it without aligning ourselves with the message.

FOWLER: It doesn’t mean you should do it. The first human right — the First Amendment does give us right to freedom of speech. It doesn’t mean you should go out there and do it, right?


KELLY: But here’s the — here’s the — here’s the issue.


FOWLER: It doesn’t mean you should go out there and do stupid things.


KELLY: Here’s the issue. When people exercise their First Amendment Rights and two Jihadist show up to murder them, the relevant question at that time.


FOWLER: Nobody is.

KELLY: … is not what were they saying. The relevant question is, what are we going to do about this group of people.


FOWLER: … but you’re putting — you’re putting the cart here.

KELLY: … that wants to murder us because we.


FOWLER: … you’re putting the cart before.

KELLY: … believe in spree speech.

FOWLER: … the horse.

KELLY: … and the First Amendment?

FOWLER: If they never had that event, the Jihadist would have never shown up. That’s the cart before the horse.

KELLY: Wow! Wow!

FOWLER: It’s just that simple. And this particular incident, Megyn.

KELLY: Richard?

FOWLER: … that they would not have shown up.

KELLY: I’m concerned about the — I’m concerned about the America you would have us live in. That’s not the way it’s set up.

FOWLER: I live in an America where everybody accepts everybody and not makes fun of their respective god, Megyn.

KELLY: Well, why don’t just explain that to — to the Jihadist. Explain that to them because they need a little lesson in.


FOWLER: How we be — how we be.


KELLY: … being respectful. I’ve got to go.

FOWLER: … terrorism of the blog, not hate.


KELLY: I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go. I have another guest coming up after you. It’s great to see you, as always, Richard Fowler.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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