Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Dangerous Time for Free Speech In the United States

Last night, or early this morning, brown-shirted thugs (Los Angeles County sheriffs) were sent to the door of a man thought to have helped make the video which has provided the pretext for Muslims to riot in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Mid-east resulting in the deaths of 4 US citizens including our ambassador to Libya.  This was done at the behest of the Obama administration. He was allegedly asked to "voluntarily" come to the station and answer a few questions about the production of the video.  Fearing for his life, the man (reportedly a Coptic Christian from Egypt, a sect that has been extensively persecuted by Islamic militants in Egypt and elsewhere in the Mid-east, the man covered his face from reporters cameras to prevent becoming recognizable target for Islamic killers.  The LA Times released the man's home address.

I urge you to read the full essays by these law blogger on this express violation of the right of free speech (excerpts below).

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

He won’t resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he’s not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer’s misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker’s door.

But Obama’s behavior — and that of his enablers in the press — has laid down a marker for those who are paying attention. By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office. I hope and expect that the voters will agree in November.
And I said:

If bad movies aren't protected:

1. The vast majority of movies are not protected.

2. The legal authorities will have to distinguish good from bad.Imagine if you had to make a good movie or a well-written book to have the freedom to disseminate it. What power the critics would have! They could be expert witnesses at our blasphemy trials.

"90% of everything is crud," said Theodore Sturgeon. It's Sturgeon's Law... to which I humbly offer the Althouse Corollary:

If there's a crud exception to freedom, we are only 10% free.
So imagine what would likely happen the next time someone writes a book like the Satanic Verses, or makes a movie — even a serious movie — depicting Mohammed, or perhaps reproduces the Mohammed cartoons in the course of making a movie about the cartoon controversy. Or imagine perhaps what might happen if extremist Muslims in the Middle East start trying to generate outrage over American Christians trying to convert some Muslims to Christianity, whether in America or using American Web sites to try to reach Middle Eastern countries...

“Last time this happened, and our men killed four Americans, the Americans saw the light and decided to punish the blasphemers. They agreed that blasphemy must be suppressed — and yet they now shamelessly refuse to act on their promises!” (I doubt that the mob will have much of a sense of the nuances of American legal doctrine, so it’s a safe bet that they won’t know that the hypothetical new law doesn’t extend to “serious literature” or “genuine debate” or religious proselytizing; plus they might not view the Satanic Verses and the like as “serious literature” or “genuine debate.”) “Maybe the Americans forgotten what happened last time — but we haven’t. Let’s give them a taste of the same medicine that worked so well back then.”
 Ace of Spades (not a legal blogger):
So what does Obama do?

He, and his media allies, redefine the problem. The problem is not, in their telling, that a vicious, murderous strand of Islam is in great need of serious pushback, discrediting, and ultimately reform. That's difficult, that would involve unpleasant things like championing the ideals of the Enlightenment (which, it now turns out, are racist), and that certainly could not be accomplished on the 50 day schedule Obama needs it accomplished on.

So he redefines the "problem" to be something trivial. Something he could actually manage.

He redefines the problem as the video.

Now, "success" will judged if he can use threats to the freedom and physical security of the flimmaker to get him to pull the film, or denounce it.

If he can -- if his media allies can continue drawing a big map showing MURDER TARGET IS HERE, and his agents in the federal "law enforcement" community can threaten him with prison (another place he'd likely be killed, incidentally) -- they can claim "victory."
Remember when the greatest threat to freedom of speech was to advocate cutting off the federal funding for an artist who dipped a crucifix in urine?

Ah, the good old days!

UPDATE: via Instapundit

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