Professor Joseph Reisert’s defense of freedom of speech (column, “We will never apologize for law protecting freedom of expression,” Sept. 21) is a strong statement of what Americans believe: We have a constitutional right to voice even derogatory ideas with impunity.

Now, imagine that you are in a room with a madman who is carrying a gun. Would you hurl insults at him and put your life at risk? Probably not. Say the room was full of people and that you are behind them, off to the side and out of range of the gun. You can hurl your insults safely, knowing that others might be killed but not you.

Would you assert your right to freedom of speech and provoke the madman to shoot?

And if you did, would the others in the room have a duty to stop you, at the risk of infringing on your constitutional rights?

It makes no sense to flaunt American ideals in the faces of people who have no concept of them and whose reaction will be deadly, not even when it is not we but other Americans who will die.

David Mills, Waterville