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BOWIE, Md.--They are, perhaps, the most dangerous words ever written:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
That, for those who don't know, is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
What makes those words dangerous is that they guarantee a freedom that, in the wrong hands (or even the right hands) can cause upset and outrage, even topple regimes. America confers that kind of power--freedom of expression, unfettered by government--equally to the conscientious and the flighty, the modest and the mighty, the noble and the most vile.
We've been arguing about it ever since, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which restricted criticism of the government,
As Islamic extremists continue
That's putting it mildly. And that ignorance has become a potentially deadly flash point in recent years. It used to be that only a few high-profile, theoretically responsible individuals had access to the world stage and the ability to affect world events. But with the advent of YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, it is now conceivable some shlub in Fort Lauderdale could start a riot in Mogadishu. So the most dangerous words ever written have become more dangerous still.