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Inciting A Riot — Why Now?
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Inciting A Riot

There are few restrictions on free speech in the United States compared to the rest of the world, but they exist. The biggest difference is that the US specifically protects political speech, which is usually the most censored form of speech in other countries.

In the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” That concept has been refined by the imminent lawless action test and the fighting words doctrine.

The current controversy involving the Innocennce of Muslims film has to pass through those filters, and others, for the Federal government to do anything.

First, does the government have jurisdiction? That one is easy to deal with as the actions precipitated by the film affected US embassies and consulates which are US soil, even though they are located in foreign countries.

Next is the toughest test to pass for a prosecutor – what was the mens rea [culpable mental state] of those who perpetrated the actions, did they know, and therefore intend, that the riots would take place?

There were three people involved, Steve Klein, Terry Jones, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula [AKA Sam Bacile].

Steve Klein is a California Christianist whose claim to fame is protesting Muslim and Mormon facilities for fun and profit. It would be difficult to prove he would know and understand the impact of the film because he hasn’t received the national attention he craves.

Terry Jones is another Florida whacko. A self-ordained ‘pastor’ at a double-wide ‘cathedral’ in Gatorsville [Gainesville, site of the holiest shrine in the state, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the University of Florida campus] where he feeds the 55-gallon ‘drum of doom’ with the pages of religious texts. He has had national attention for his Quran burning stunt. Any competent defense attorney should be able to show that Jones lacks a mens [mind] to be rea [evil]. Proving he knows anything would be a major hurdle.

Then there is Nakoula. He is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who emigrated to the US. It would be almost impossible for him not to know what would happen when the film was shown. Further there is ample proof that he attempted to hide what he was doing, and to avoid being directly linked to the film.

Nakoula used the alias Sam Bacile [Basseley and Bacile are forms of Basil] and spread the misinformation that he was an Israeli-American with backing from 100 wealthy Jews. The script used by the actors and film crew had no mention of Muhammad. All of the references that have Muslims so upset were dubbed in during post production editing, indicating that Nakoula knew they were incendiary. He had the film translated into Arabic which shows the real target for the film. There is sufficient evidence that Nakoula knew what would happen as a result of the film, and it was his intention to incite the riots.

It turns out that Nakoula is on probation for a fraud conviction that involved the Internet. One of the conditions of his probation is that he had to get permission from his probation officer before using the ‘Net. He may be violated and sent back to prison for uploading the film to YouTube. A few people will claim a civil rights violation, but Nakoula is technically still a Federal prisoner and his rights are severely limited, as are the rights of all those in prison.

I still believe there is a case for charging him under the Federal version of inciting a riot. It would be much easier to charge him under the new ‘terrorism laws’ for aiding the enemies of the US, but I don’t think anyone should be charged under those laws.

I would remind people that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, which is still the ideal in the US. cable news not withstanding.


1 Gary { 09.17.12 at 11:23 am }

I fully agree, tho the attack on our Libyan embassy was planned in advance
of the film. We as americans need to let the world know we will not tolerate films
of this nature.

2 Bryan { 09.17.12 at 4:12 pm }

The attack in Libya seems to have been a break down within the current interim government there that allowed the assault on the consulate and two supposedly secret safe houses. There is obviously a mole feeding information to the fundamentalist elements in Libya, and we will have to restrict information sharing until the mole is uncovered. That attack and the demonstrations are connected only by coincidence of time.

I don’t know if the Department of Justice will act, but as a former member of law enforcement, I would be more than comfortable executing an arrest warrant, something that wouldn’t be true if they use the new ‘terrorism’ laws, which look unConstitutional on their face. We have had laws on the books for decades to deal with terrorism, we just need people willing to do the work involved in actually enforcing them. Cops and prosecutors know how to do it without cutting corners or infringing on anyone’s civil rights. It would be nice if they were allowed to do their jobs the way they were taught.