Throughout the cartoon controversy people on both sides talk about free speech and a free press. While in general, these can be construed as the freedom to say what you want, people are conflating Constitutional protections with the idea that one shouldn’t face any consequences to their speech.
Free speech, but more specifically, the Constitutional protection of free speech has absolutely nothing to do with private individuals and what they can do. The First Amendment is not a protection from your fellow citizens (or foreigners). It is a protection against what the government can do, and the government alone.
When the Dixie Chicks protested that people were boycotting their music, they claimed Free Speech. No one said they didn’t have the right to say what they did; they were saying they weren’t going to continue giving them money if they wanted to engage in that behavior. This is perfectly legal and why our country is so great. We don’t need the government to create hate speech laws here; the free market system largely takes care of the problem. Yes, you have a right to say stupid things, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to continue to get subsidized by the public if you do. This is the lesson that the creators of Book of Daniel learned.
When Islamic radicals (who are the minority) burn down embassies and threaten violence, it is shameful behavior. You don’t protest the stereotype of being a fanatical murder by being a fanatical murder. However, Muslims hacking websites is not a Constitutional issue. There are laws to prevent it, sure. It’s bad behavior, sure. But it is not an attack on the First Amendment. It is high time people on both sides realize what the First Amendment is and what it is not.