I don’t want to be accused, as Mr. Romney recently was, of shooting first and aiming later. I certainly don’t have all of the facts of the whole anti-Islam “reprehensible” movie and all its surrounding environs. So I preface my entire rant on the information that I have, which is as follows:
A guy is sentenced to jail for bank fraud. As a condition of his probation, he is prohibited from using an alias or accessing the internet without the permission of his probation officer. Yet,
Someone makes a movie trailer, ridiculing and reviling the Prophet Mohammad. The trailer is posted to YouTube, where
Someone in the Islam world finds out about the trailer, and hops up the crowd, inciting
A demonstration at the U. S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which leads to
The embassy issuing a declaration that the proximate cause of the demonstration was an anti-Muslim movie released in the U.S., the sacrilege of which they decried, after which
Terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Egypt, and murder four people, including the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. Within hours,
Mitt Romney blasts the apologetic tone of the declaration, and
The Egyptian President of Libya’s General National Conference says that the attack on the U.S. Consulate was an act of terror. Whereupon,
Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appears on five talk shows to emphatically state that the events at the Egyptian Consulate arose out of demonstrations related to the anti-Muslim movie, and
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton appear in an ad on Pakistani television, decrying the “reprehensible” anti-Muslim movie. Here the relationship gets fuzzy, as attention shifts when
The alleged producer of the movie is arrested and charged with 8 counts of violation of probation. He now faces up to 2 years in prison for lying to probations officials about his role in the video, danger to the community, and lack of trust in the defendant.
Some legal eagles have said that the government had no choice but to deal with the guy once he came onto their radar. Which begs the question of how he came on their radar in the first place. Do the feds routinely check into every video on YouTube that incenses people? And this guy apparently hid behind an alias. The feds had to do a fair bit of work to pierce that screen. Why was that necessary? Why was the video the focus of any attention whatsoever? Why didn’t the feds tell the demonstrators to pack sand (as it were), telling them that this is still a sovereign country, and people here are still allowed to act in a constitutional manner?
How much of the government’s resources were spent in the quest to get behind this guy’s alias, hunt him down, and take him in? Why was he taken in for questioning? And why were they bothering? Why does anyone know who wrote, directed, produced, or posted this video? Why wasn’t it merely a statement of the type that any American citizen had the right to make? Why did the administration not vigorously defend the video, instead of calling it reprehensible?
It would make sense to me if the administration’s response would have been,
“We don’t know who made this movie, and we don’t care. Whoever spent his time and money on this project had something to say, regardless of how well he got his point across. Posting such a video in this country is not a crime, but stifling such speech is unconstitutional. YouTube is an American company, and is allowed to publish whatever does not violate the law. Religious commentary is still constitutional in this country. Here, such comments are not only lawful, but celebrated. It’s unfortunate that people in other countries feel the need to be offended by such an amateurish production, but their feelings is no reason for us to alter our behavior or our Constitution. If you don’t like it, don’t watch YouTube.”
And, I’m not buying the whole “we had to do something when he appeared on the radar” thing, either. Really? This is the same administration that decided to redirect limited resources and not deport illegal aliens. But we’re supposed to believe that determining whether someone’s probationary terms have been violated is the biggest issue facing the country, and worth a large allotment of resources, plus a SWAT team.
There’s a reason that the most hated speech must be the most protected. Not because most people enjoy offending others, but because it is the hated speech that is the easiest to persuade others to stifle. Then, as the level of discourse becomes milder, instead of governmental pressure to not offend easing up, more and more people become offended by more and more speech, and the vise tightens.
I get really tired of the vapid comparisons to Hitler and the Holocaust. Most such comparisons evidence a lack of intellectual depth, as well as a measure of fear-mongering. But I do think that a certain analogy is apt in this situation.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
(Photo by martinak15)