Criminalizing Free Speech

Gulliver and the LilliputiansNowadays, within the European Union, it’s no stretch to criminalize free speech. Under the draconian new legal guidelines issued by Brussels, virtually any Counterjihad writings can be cast as “inciting religious hatred” or “promoting racism”, or some other Orwellian classification. Speech is cast in these terms to render it doubleplus ungood, and therefore unutterable.

In contrast, laws in the United States must be bent into a pretzel to criminalize speech. However, CAIR and the Left have been busy in recent years teaching themselves how to bake pretzels.

It has long been the habit of the Left to elevate ordinary disagreement to the status of “slander”, “libel”, “harassment”, “hate speech”, and the like. Honest mistakes or misstatements are called “lies”. Following someone else’s writings closely and criticizing them is dubbed “stalking”.

Islamist groups have observed these techniques, picked them up, and adapted them for their own purposes.

This strategy — the gross escalation of language into absurd hyperbole — can be used to designate unwanted speech as a criminal act. Stalking, libel, slander, and harassment all have criminal legal implications in most countries. Authors are then intimidated not just by the threat of a lawsuit, but by the possibility of jail time and a criminal record.

The Left and the Islamists aren’t the only ones employing these tactics. The same methods have been used during intramural squabbles on the Right. As Dymphna noted in her post last night, the announced intention to post a transcript of a publicly available audio was called “blackmail” by the person who made the audio public in the first place.

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Christine of Vigilant Freedom has detected a pattern in the attempts by the Left and the Islamists to criminalize free speech. She found and researched six examples of this strategy and posted them today at the CVF blog.

From her introduction:

We’re now familiar with the pattern of attacks against free speech in online journalism and talk radio. This Autumn we have seen an escalation, sometimes from unexpected sources. The political goal, at least for the left and the Islamists, is to criminalize speech by equating any criticism of Islam with “hate speech,” and this so-called “hate speech” as unprotected incitement speech causing “hate crimes.”

Islamists and leftists routinely attack fact-based online journalism and analysis, as well as talk radio, as “incitement,” “hate speech,” “stalking,” “harassment,” “blackmail,” “threats” — labels associated with actual crimes. This highly loaded language — whether it comes from CAIR or from fellow bloggers — lowers the quality of public debate and creates a chilling effect on any online investigative journalism or analysis.

Recent attempts to silence Michael Savage, Joe Kaufman, students at the Universities of Wisconsin and Florida, the Gates of Vienna blog, the Stop The Madrassa Coalition in Brooklyn and others are all examples of labeling protected free speech as a crime or an incitement to violence. The Silencers may claim they are using the criminal labels metaphorically; but the potential chill factor on all journalists and activists is very real.

Her first example concerns “Stop the Madrassa”, an organization that is dedicated to opposing a state-funded Islamic public school in Brooklyn. STM is bucking the entire NYC establishment combined with CAIR on this issue:

The Stop The Madrassa Community Coalition has worked tirelessly to expose the extremist statements and affiliations of Dhabah Almontaser, the former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York. According to the New York Daily News, Almontaser recently “sued the city for allegedly violating her rights to free speech and due process by forcing her resignation in a lawsuit naming Mayor Bloomberg and [Deputy Mayor Dennis] Walcott as defendants.” This federal lawsuit specifically restated charges made by Almontaser as reported in the New York Times, that:

Members of the coalition stalked me wherever I went and verbally assaulted me with vicious anti-Arab and anti-Muslim comments.

The “coalition” exists primarily as a group of community residents, parents and teachers who are also careful online researchers, and Almontaser’s allegations that she was “stalked” and “verbally assaulted” are apparently based on their reporting of her actual statements reported in online articles. Note the devolution of language: research about someone becomes “stalking”; publishing that person’s actual statements and affiliations with radical Islamist groups such as CAIR, is equated to “verbal assault.”

In other words, Almontaser’s lawsuit against New York City, and her published statements, both apparently characterize ANY quotation of her prior public statements as a crime.

But the Stop The Madrassa Coalition won’t be silenced.

You can read more details on this issue in the CVF post.

The second example concerns our very own Dymphna, the accused “blackmailer”:
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In a minor but illuminating example of friendly fire in the blogosphere, the blogger “Dymphna” at Gates of Vienna was accused of “criminal” behavior — of “blackmail” and “making threats” — by another blogger, “Dr. Sanity”. Ironically, the “threat” was that Dymphna intended to post a transcript of audio that was already public, and to assess it against a code of blogger ethics — in other words, to post already public facts and perform analysis against a commonly accepted standard. Dymphna offered as an alternative to the posting a request for an apology and retraction, the entire communication made in a private email. Again ironically — and in what arguably may have been a series of journalistic errors — that email was made public by “Dr. Sanity” in a blog post, and then treated as if “Dymphna” had made it public herself. To her credit, Dymphna did post the transcript — and an analysis of the problems in online journalism posed by the entire incident.

Apart from what might be at best questionable journalistic behavior and mistakes at several points in the process by “Dr. Sanity,” the interesting behavior is her labeling of straightforward online journalism as a criminal act — “blackmail.” It shows just how contagious is this conflation of protected speech (in this case, reasonable and prudent online journalism) with some kind of alleged crime. Just because someone feels threatened, doesn’t mean someone else is being threatening.

Example number three is Walid Shoebat:

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, last week the Muslim Students Association tried to prevent a speech by Walid Shoebat, by labeling his criticism of radical Islam as hate speech and claiming a threat of violence [emphasis is ours]:

The speaker of the event is Walid Shoebat, a well known addict of hate-speech. His writing and speeches have deliberately rotated around inciting Americans with fear of Muslims and Arabs, associating them with terrorism. The ramifications of allowing such hate-mongers to spread hate has been clearly driven [sic] in the physical attacks on Muslims, Arabs, or anyone with Middle-Eastern appearance following the events of September 11th.

The Muslims at UWM feel that their safety will be in danger if the above mentioned event takes place on the UWM campus. We ask the UWM Administration to cancel the event due to these circumstances for the safety and comfort of the students. We take such an event as a direct attack on us

The MSA’s silencing efforts have failed, Shoebat will speak…

Number four concerns the groups that aired “Obsession” at the University of Florida:

Also this week, University of Florida administrators are attempting to silence two law students who showed the movie “Obsession” on November 13 and advertised it with a flyer stating “Radical Islam wants you dead.” A number of organizations sponsored the movie: Law School Republicans, Jewish Student Union, College Republicans, Gators for Israel and the Jewish Law Students Association. (Knowing that there’s a group called “Gators for Israel” makes the future a little sunnier…)

Given the endless threats of Death to America, Death to infidels, Death to Israel etc. from radical Islamists, the flyer’s wording strikes us as fact-based and admirably concise…


In response to further Muslim student complaints about the flyer, the University’s Vice

President for Student Affairs, Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin sent an email to the 50,000 student body saying that the students’ flyer showed “offensive behavior” and demanding an apology for it. As one of the law student organizers say [pdf format], “The administration says that we owe an apology to the entire campus — for stating a fact.”

The fifth example is the recent effort mounted against Joe Kaufman for “inciting violence”:

Joe Kaufman, founder of Cairwatch and Americans Against Hate, organized a peaceful protest of the Islamic Circle of North America’s Family Day at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park near Dallas. For background on the Islamic Circle of North America, see his article here at Front Page magazine. At the actual protest on October 14, 2007, approximately 10 people showed up, to stand peacefully with signs outside the entrance. According to the Militant Islam Monitor, quoting from the Dallas Star-Telegram:

“Islamic organizations in North Texas are seeking libel damages in a lawsuit against Joe Kaufman, leader of the Florida-based Americans Against Hate.[…]

[…]The lawsuit, filed Oct. 12, asked a judge to prohibit Kaufman from threatening, harming or inciting violence against anyone associated with the outing, in addition to libel damages, according to court records.

Area Islamic organizations were granted the temporary restraining order against Kaufman. They have also asked a judge to make a determination of libel against Kaufman…

Mr. Kaufman is a prime target for suppression, and is fighting these lawsuits. You can donate here.

Last, but not least, is Michael Savage:

CAIR has been attacking talk radio host Michael Savage for his criticism of radical Islam, using a coalition of far-left “interfaith” activists (including Hillary Clinton’s favorite, Michael Lerner of Tikkun). They’ve lobbied some of his advertisers to stop supporting his program, and they’re calling any advertisers who don’t leave racists and bigots…

Fortunately, Michael Savage is not a timid soul. He is suing the website that posts extensive clips of the audio from the show- for copyright violations!

The counter-suit strategy has the advantage of forcing CAIR and other adversaries to reveal their internal documents during the discovery process. If they want to avoid this, they drop their lawsuits. If not, we learn more about their inner workings. Either outcome demonstrates the advantages of an aggressive counterattack.

I’m no fan of Michael Savage; I find his style and tactics unpleasant. He’s just not my cup of tea. But, as in the Mikko Ellilä affair, an aggressive defense of his right to speak is an absolute necessity, regardless of the content of what he says.

I have no doubt that the same guns will turn in my direction eventually.

Not only that, Michael Savage and I are on the same side. But even if we weren’t — even if he were a protégé of Michael Moore — I’d go to bat for him.

  • Clarity of purpose.
  • Adherence to principle.
  • Vigorous resistance.
  • A willingness to take risks.

These are the prerequisites for a successful Counterjihad.

19 thoughts on “Criminalizing Free Speech

  1. Criticizing a violent person can induce violence from his part. therefore, it is inducing violence. The more violent he is, the more violence you induce by criticizm. The only solution for this paradox is to admit that violence should not be avoided by any means and safety is not the highest virtue.

  2. “inciting Americans with fear of Muslims [and] associating them with terrorism. “

    So yes, the jihadis obviously cannot refute these obviously unfounded fears through dialogue, so they must simply silence them all together. After all, “freedom of speech” is an expression of hegemony, so it must be destroyed.

    From all this we can safely conclude that these attempts to criminalise speech are expressions of jihad.

  3. Have you seen this editorial?

    It includes the question: “Is violence integral to Islam? It’s a valid question. When the pope raised it, Muslims proved him wrong by threatening to cut off his head. Message: Don’t call us intolerant or we’ll kill you.”
    IBD says that “CAIR encourages Muslims in America to improve the coverage of Islam in the media (to) break the stereotype of Muslims as terrorists, and that of Islam as “archaic, barbaric, irrational” and a “religion of violence”; and suggests that “The vast majority of Americans would change their negative view of Islam if Muslims would strongly condemn such extremism. But for some reason, they won’t do it. Until they do, they can’t complain about Islamophobia.”

    Wow. I laughed right out loud. Until Islam curtails its violence, people have a right to think of it as a violent religion? What a concept!

  4. If and when the new constitutional-in-all-but-name is passed and made law this deficit will become the supreme law of the EU and will have consequences that are still not entirely discernible. The EU constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech, BUT it places caveats on this right – that boil down to “you can’t say it if we don’t like it” – that make the right essentially meaningless.

    A better reason for dismantling this vile institution I cannot conceive.

  5. Under the draconian new legal guidelines issued by Brussels…

    What are these guidelines, exactly? A reference would be handy for dealing with this.

  6. Baron, I agree that criminalizing freedom of speech is horrific. I know all too well of the uncounted numbers in Europe already afraid to speak their minds out of these fears. But adding the Dr. Sanity matter with Dymphna’s emailing wackiness into all of this? Honestly, I think even you know better than to weaken your argument by sinking to that. Please.

    Especially interesting are the quotes regarding not wanting to play the victim card from Dymphna that are posted on this Dr. Sanity blog contrasted with all of the victim playing going on here.

    I wouldn’t call Dymphna’s strange requests to either me or Dr. Sanity attempts at blackmail, they’re too weird. The closest thing, however, in trying to describe her attempts at threats via email is pretty much describing this as some sort of blackmail, though one that no one takes seriously and that really causes no harm to anyone other than you and Dymphna. What else do you really call stating that, in my case, a link to my blog won’t be removed unless I come to this blog to comment under a pseudonym other than my actual self? That combined with accusations that I have been doing anything other than having one Blogger account, etc.

    Personally, I call it laughable, but I think your cheapening the issue of online rights to freedom of expression by trying to plead Dymphna’s argument within this one is anything but “responsible journalism”.

  7. Baron

    Have you ever noticed that the “opponents” of “hate Speech” use language that traditionally would be called hateful in attacking their opponents. Often far more so than the people they are attacking.

    Now I suppose the some one will want to put me in a jail that does not meet Gitmo standards for pointing that out.

    Having disagreed with you and Dymphna on several occasions I would like to point out that the Gates has always been an example of a site where respectful disagreement is permitted and responded to in a respectful way. Your critics are saying more about themselves than the Gates.

    Have fun, don’t let get them you down.

  8. Funny, what eventually led to my banning at another former anti-jihadist blog was a defense of Fjordman for posting anonamously, as Europe doesn’t have American First Amendment rights to free speech. (That, and another reason I thought it was ludicrous to think of Fjordman as a coward for not posting his real name was the number of people threatened with violence for ‘incorrect’ views of the ‘Religion of Peace’.

    The concept of ‘hate speech’ laws is frightening. An excellent way for one side in a political debate to criminalize the other.

  9. Re: First Amendment- I’d think University of Florida law students might have a decent case against their administration, UF being a state funded college and all…

  10. The Parliamentary Bill of Rights enshrined the right to free speech and the right to bear arms in the 1680s, or thereabouts but, then, we were always a little different…

  11. Baron

    Racism and xenophobia will mean belief in race colour, descent, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin as a factor determining aversion to individuals.

    So no matter what Islam does, in the name of Allah and the Pedophile Prophet, saying anything bad about Islam is a crime?

    Bad. Very bad.

  12. Patrick_A_NonnyMouse…

    that editorial comment is funny and sad. “Don’t call us violent or we’ll kill you.”

    It reminds me of my brother’s first true love, early in high school. She broke the news to him that she was considering becoming a nun.

    He was most upset and said vehemently: “if you go into the convent, I refuse to marry you!”

    Same logic. Same adolescent thinking.

  13. Ed Mahmoud, it’s not the saying in itself. It’s aversion to individuals.

    Like you got some criminal, Wahhabi imam. You’ll not be permitted to have aversion against such a person under this law, and you can be punished for that.

    It stinks. As does EU as such.

  14. I was notified of this thread by the Google alert system which sends me links to websites where my name is mentioned. Since you are still linking to your old posts about “the Mikko Ellilä affair” you have apparently not heard that six months after I was interroggated by the police, state prosecutor Jorma Kalske decided to press charges against me in a court of law. The court date has not been set yet.

    If you have Finnish readers, they might want to translate this newspaper article about the charges.

  15. So now you can’t criticize sick cultists in Europe who might encourage mass-suicide rituals, because they are a protected “religion”?

    Wouldn’t want to offend them.

  16. There are some in the blogosphere who pretend toward freedom, but who are stringently insistant on maintaining a PC code. They should be ashamed of themselves for promoting that which has caused all of us so much grief.

    Another example of a dangerous bill being passed without fanfare is HR 1955 – Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 – Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to add provisions concerning the prevention of homegrown terrorism (terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States).

    It has provisions which lead to very similar results for America as the Europeans are suffering under.

    Thanks for resisting the PC attempts to silence you and to besmirch good European organizations.

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