Holding bigoted religious views is indeed reprehensible — but not illegal. If the government wants to prosecute Youssef on a charge of deliberately and directly inciting violence with his video — if proven, one of the few, very narrow legal restrictions on free speech — it should do so, and make its case in public.
The First Amendment is not a shield for lawbreakers, but it is one against government officials who would use the letter of the law to void the shelter of its 45 words.
Gene Policinski is senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn. Contact him at email@example.com.