Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz clashed with Muslim blogger Amani Al-Khatahtbeh on Monday night over free speech and the shooting outside of a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, on Sunday, after he claimed that the only people threatening others with violence over political expressions are "radical Muslims."
Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz clashes with Muslim blogger Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (CNN)
Dershowitz's comments came after Al-Khatahtbeh characterized statements made at the event, which was organized by Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative, as "vitriolic rhetoric that we're allowing to fly by under the guise of free speech," among other sentiments.
Dershowitz responded by sharing his candid assessment of the situation.
"Let's remember that the only people today who are threatening violence against others for expressing political views are radical Muslims. That happens to be the reality," Dershowitz said. "You don't have Jews trying to threaten Farrakhan. You don't have Christians trying to use violence against people who use anti-Christian rhetoric."
Al-Khatahtbeh, who gave a look of disagreement while the attorney made these claims, responded by accusing him of overgeneralizing.
"That kind of targeting is extremely sweeping. You just made a very large statement right there," she said. "This is the reason why Muslims are being targeted."
But Dershowitz doubled down and proceeded to challenge her: "It's true. Name another group that is today attacking freedom of speech."
Al-Khatahtbeh, who didn't name a specific group, cited an article written by Dershowitz in which he decried the dangers of "eliminationist anti-Semitism" in an effort to compare that anti-Jewish sentiment to comments allegedly made at Geller's event about Islam. She claimed that the keynote speaker "was quoted as telling everyone … no more Islam, no more mosques."
While Dershowitz said that he disagrees with the sentiments in both paradigms, he said that free speech that falls within non-threatening paradigms shouldn't be banned. The attorney specifically outlined the distinction between legal and illegal speech earlier in the segment.
"If I were to make a speech against Don Lemon saying, 'Go get Don Lemon,' that's one thing, but if you make statements against other people and they then respond by trying to kill you, that's called the 'hecklers' veto' or the 'fighting words' concept," he said. "And those are constitutionally protected."
Dershowitz added, "You have to protect the Gellers even though you don't like what they're saying from the people who are trying to kill her."
Watch the segment below: