The day after a horrific shooting spree by what appears to be a radicalized Muslim man and his partner in San Bernardino, California, Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged to a Muslim advocacy and lobbying group that she would take aggressive action against anyone who used “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.” Speaking to the audience at the Muslim Advocates’ 10th anniversary dinner Thursday, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute any guilty of what she deemed violence-inspiring speech. “The fear that you have just mentioned is in fact my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who is sworn to the protection of all of the American people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied by acts of violence,” she said.

What about the American people – all of the American people – potentially subjected to injury or death at the hands of Jihadists? Isn’t the Attorney General even more afraid of that? This is incredible. The highest law enforcement official in the United States is more worried about the hurt feelings of nonviolent Muslims than she is about the actual and potential victims of terrorism and violence.

Where is the outrage?

Where are the calls for her resignation, and the condemnation of the President who hired her? Those would certainly exist if it were a different group other than Muslims being defended.

As always, Islam gets a free pass.

Yet violence done in the name of Islam is the most prevalent and the most brutal activity taking place in the world today. San Bernardino was only the most recent example. There was Paris, and there were a string of beheadings, bombings as well as thwarted attacks going back to 9/11, and before. More are surely coming.

Where’s the healthy and rational fear over that?

“Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric—or, as we saw after 9/11, violence directed at individuals who may not even be Muslims but perceived to be Muslims, and they will suffer just as much—when we see that we will take action,” said Lynch.

The United States is not merely a country “based on” freedom of speech. The First Amendment guarantees to protect the right of free speech.

Lynch is basically saying, “You can have free speech – but don’t take it too far.” How far is too far? Whatever she, and others like her in charge, consider “too far.”

The true test of free speech is a government’s willingness to leave any and all free speech alone.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that all speech against Muslims is unfair or bigoted. So what? It’s no more the government’s business to investigate, prosecute and arrest people who criticize or condemn Islam than it is the government’s business to arrest Muslims, merely because they think, feel or believe that all non-practitioners of their belief are evil infidels.

Contrary to the implications of Attorney General Lynch’s comments, it should never be illegal to feel, think or state something (on your own time and property, of course.) It’s only acting on hateful feelings, through the initiation of force or the credible threat of using force, that should be illegal.

Why is this not obvious?

You do not, of course, have a right to openly threaten to physically hurt people. If someone threatens to harm you – let’s say, a Muslim at your job who does not like the fact you’re an infidel – then it should be a matter for legal authorities to investigate. The same would be true of anyone who threatened to physically harm you, in the name of any other religion, or no religion at all.

But these are not the types of situations to which Lynch refers. Lynch’s concern is clearly with people who will now criticize or speak out against Islam in the wake of yet another monstrous, fatal attack done in its name.

As Jihad grows in its intensity and prevalence, the people we hire to protect us are not worried about Jihad’s victims; they’re worried about the feelings of those whose beliefs are affiliated or associated with the Jihadists.

After touting the numbers of “investigations into acts of anti-Muslim hatred” and “bigoted actions” against Muslims launched by her DOJ, Lynch suggested the Constitution does not protect “actions predicated on violent talk” and pledged to prosecute those responsible for such actions.

“I think it’s important that as we again talk about the importance of free speech we make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not America,” said Lynch. “They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted.”

What exactly are “bigoted actions”? How are we, as citizens, to know what constitutes a “bigoted action” and what does not?

Should we simply shut up, and not say anything critical about Islam, at all? Lynch leaves that as an open question.

Lynch, who is the Attorney General of the United States, is advancing the idea that not merely actions, but thoughts, ideas and feelings can and must be against the law, and are worthy of prosecution.

She’s not consistent, of course. Muslims who say hateful things against Westerners, gays, women or anyone who is not Muslim will not be prosecuted or investigated for anything. Only those who criticize Islam face that risk.

The United States has reached a frightening and almost unbelievable point. We have been put on notice by our Attorney General that free speech is now up for grabs, just like everything else.

Watch your backs. Criticizing Islam, and thereby hurting the feelings of people who follow this religion, could land you in jail.

“Not America” to condemn Islam? It’s all about America to criticize views, religions or other kinds of beliefs with which you do not agree. That’s the whole point of the First Amendment. Dissension is the very definition of a free society; it’s the polar opposite of what Attorney General Lynch claims.

America has an Attorney General who believes the First Amendment is conditional. And obviously her boss, the President, agrees.

As if Jihad arriving in America were not bad enough, we now have a President and Attorney General who plan to ditch what was left of the Constitution.

Just remember: Once free speech is gone in principle, it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone in practice.

Don’t say Loretta Lynch didn’t warn you.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.