First Amendment Takes Another Hit

Fellow Brooklynite Javed Iqbal, 45, today plead guilty to broadcasting Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV programming to US customers. The charge is “providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.”

Eric brought this news item to my attention and asked if I wanted to blog about it.

“Not really. What should I add?”

“Add your outrage.”

I paused and thought about it. “But I’m not outraged right now.”

And that got me to thinking — why AREN’T I outraged? Is it that I am so used to this Administration jailing people for absurd and frivolous reasons? Am I now merely bored by the thought of the government spying on American citizens on the basis of nebulous and unlikely threats of terror? Has it become so “whatever” to hear of someone denied an explicit constitutional right because it might help the propaganda arm of an organization our government has declared a terrorist organization but which is not by all legitimate and objective standards a terrorist organization?

The last time I checked, the only time Hezbollah lifted a finger to physically harm Americans was when the latter were occupying Lebanon — and even then, it’s not proven. Israel might consider Hezbollah to be terrorists for daring to challenge the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, but as I live in the United States, I don’t care much to live by the warped standards of Israeli justice.

This was not shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Al-Manar may broadcast distasteful programs, but it doesn’t incite its viewers to commit violence. This case IS an outrage and should outrage anyone who prefers liberty over security — not that anyone is more secure by Iqbal’s certain conviction.

Broadcasting Al-Manar should not be considered a crime in the United States, where the law of the land explicitly declares that it is the exact opposite: the protected activity of expression.

25 thoughts on “First Amendment Takes Another Hit”

  1. Shows you just how much power and influence Israel unfortunately has in the United States and how far America’s foreign policy has been distorted because of it.

    1. I agree Andy. Our subjection of our foreign affairs to Israel’s interests is the mother-well of iniquity from which all kinds of toxins flow.

  2. “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free”! Well I guess, maybe, a little or something like that, if only I lived in the rest of America like Canada, Mexico, Central or South America. Who will be the first “American” Ernst Zundel. Welcome to 1984 thoughtcrime!


    1. Americans aren’t nearly as “free” as they like to imagine they are, and are getting less “free” all the time. Run afoul of the federal government and you will soon see how “free” you are.

  3. Maybe I am naive, but I still believe we are one of the freest societies in the world. That can change very quickly though. We, as always, must stay vigilant and speak out when that line is crossed. But also, are we supposed to be satisfied that we are more free by comparison to others, or are we supposed to strive to be as free as humanly possible? I believe the latter is a more noble cause.

    1. Are you free to take a vacation in Cuba or smoke a nice Havana? Canadians can (although they don’t go around bragging how free they are like Americans like to do). What gives Washington the “right” to decide where Americans can travel? Where in the constitution is that “right” delegated to the federal government? You own a piece of property and you want to cut down a tree on it but you are not allowed. Well isn’t that YOUR tree on YOUR property? Are you free to smoke a Marijuana cigarette in the privacy of your home without worrying about the police breaking down your door and arresting you? What gives the federal government the right to appropriate to itself to decide what you can consume? At one time alcohol consumption in the U.S. was illegal – a boon to organized crime. Look what the federal government did at Waco to the Dravidians, having a bunch of Swat / storm troopers come crashing out of some cattle trucks like that when they could have easily picked up Koresh when he was out alone on one of his frequent jogs. The power of the federal government and the imperial presidency has now grown to alarming proportions. Tell me one single power the federal government, once having acquired for itself, has voluntarily relinquished?

      1. America, the self-styled Beacon of Liberty, is the epitome of Freedom alright.

        The only catch is America’s twisted definition of freedom: the freedom to colonize, the freedom to subjugate, the freedom to bomb, the freedom to invade, the freedom to exploit, the freedom to “regime change,” and the freedom to genocide any country that stands in the way of the American Empire’s Manifest Destiny to dominate the planet.

        That’s American freedom in a nutshell since 1776….hell, since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.

        1. Ultimately, it’s the freedom to do what the federal government orders you to do, or else face imprisonment, loss of property, death, or all three at its hands.

    1. He apparently pleaded guilty to get a shorter prison term. See:

      Core of this case seems to be the judge’s rejection of the First Amendment issue because defendant was prosecuted based not on the content of what he rebroadcast, but the fact that he rebroadcast someone whom it is not legal to assist in any way. Thus technically he would have been convicted even if Hezbollah had chosen to show nothing but Disney reruns during that period.

      Defendant’s lawyers imho made a fatal error in assuming First Amendment issue would be taken seriously, and only bringing up their best defense as a secondary issue, namely many others had rebroadcast portions of Al-Manar programming in the past and not been prosecuted. Would still have been a long shot to win, but selective prosecution is a valid argument in this case – defendant could easily have been led by seeing these rebroadcasts to believe said rebroadcast would not be considered “material support” since others were not prosecuted for it.

      First amendment issue is irrelevant here imho unless the defense were to claim the law itself is unconstitutional, as defendant clearly broke the law. Instead so far as I can tell they tried to claim law should be interpreted to exempt defendant’s behavior because of potential trespass on speech rights, a dubious theory the judge was unlikely to even listen to, much less consider seriously.

      Of course I personally think the material support law is blatantly unconstitutional as written, but that is not what the court was asked to decide. So actually the judge was right. We need to change the law – it’s what’s wrong.

  4. That is the price one has to pay when living in “democracy” with consequences.

    Nothing strange about that Mr.Hitler and Mr.Stalin and the likes had same “democratic freedoms” in their time.

    Capacity of the anglo-americans to rationalize terror, war crimes and wanton destruction of whole nations by their political and military leaders far surpasses that of Germans and people of the former USSR.

    They mistake barbarism with civility and go as far to call themselves exceptional.

    Anglo-American beast is the greatest threat mankind faces in it’s history.
    I sure it is a matter of time before majority of humanity recognizes the threat and takes appropriate action.

  5. The First Amendment is not absolute. As Justice Holmes said, you can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre and call it freedome of speech. Get it through your head, we are at war with radical Islam! Now I don’t know all the facts of the case and as a general rule I am very uncomfortable with arresting someone when all they have done is broadcast something but at the same time we need to be agressive in going after these types of people. I’m not saying he should go to jail but as a Constituttional matter the first amendment has never been interpreted to protect treasonous people like this fellow.

    1. You mean Israel is at war with radical Islam Tim, (were just along for the ride, courtesy of our bought and paid for government). How exactly do you propose we fight and win such a war Tim? Did Iraq attack and invade America Tim? Just keep telling yourself they hate us because were ‘free’ Tim.

      1. How exactly do you propose we fight and win …a war [against radical Islam,] Tim?

        Why, but ceding, without question, the few of our rights still intact to the omnipotent federal government and giving them absolute power to do anything they please, whenever they please, to whomever they please; THAT’s how. After all, it’s for our own national good.

        I think that’s a pretty fair summation of Tim’s position on just about everything, if his responses to every other thread in this blog are any indication.

    2. Tim R,
      If we are at war with radical Islam, then we should also be at war with radical Judaism, radical Christianism and even radical Hinduism. All of these radical religious sects have in common a hostility to tolerance, a keenness for force and bloodshed and a certainty that they (and they alone) are correct. Tell me what is the difference between a Jewish “settler” who throws rocks at Palestinian schoolkids and an Islamic mullah patrolling the streets of Kabul looking to whip women dressed in Western clothes? Or Christian Zionists cheering on Israel’s dropping of cluster bombs on innocent Lebanese? Or the difference between Muslims burning a train full of Hindus or Hindus going door-to-door killing innocent Muslims?
      Tim R, you will never grow beyond your provincial attitudes until you broaden your mind to see the whole truth and not just “root for the home team”.

      1. I will tell you the difference Richard Vajs: The difference is simple. It is a purely mathamatical difference. The NUMBER of radical Christians, Jews, and Hindus (while they should be totally condemned) is much SMALLER and pales in comparison to the number of radical Muslims on this earth. Just the other day a “judge” in Saudi Arabia upheld the marriage of a 47 yo man to an 8 year old girl. How disgusting! And this happens all over the Muslim world. Sure you can cite me some wacky mormons or some crazy Christian sects living in Texas on some secluded ranch but in terms of sheer NUMBERS there is no comparison.

    3. Clearly you did not read the post. If you had, you would have seem where I specifically preempted such a response.

  6. “Eight Jewish teenage residents of Jerusalem were under arrest Tuesday for allegedly stabbing and assaulting three Arab teens and planning further hate-based attacks in the city, police said.”

    Woman beaten on J’lem bus for refusing to move to rear seat

    10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers

    Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border

  7. “According to the charges framed by the sessions court in May, the PAC team under Surender Pal Singh arrested about 50 Muslims from Hashimpura, a locality in Meerut, and drove them in a truck to Upper Ganga Canal, Murad Nagar, where some of the victims were shot and thrown into the canal.

    The remaining were taken to the Hindon Canal in Makanpur and similarly shot and thrown into the canal. Those custodial deaths created a sensation across the country, prompting the Uttar Pradesh government to refer the case to its CB-CID. Even then, the case was held up at every stage for some reason or the other”

    “A vast crowd, perhaps 150,000 strong, had gathered and was listening to speeches given by BJP and right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders.

    Among those present were LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, now senior figures in the BJP-led government.

    Trouble first broke out in the space below us when young men wearing bright yellow headbands managed to break through the barriers.

    Journalists beaten

    The police stood by and watched, while some men wearing saffron headbands and appointed by the organisers to control the crowd did try to stop them.

    They soon gave up, however, and joined the intruders in beating up television journalists, smashing their cameras and trampling on their tape recorders.

    Many Hindu activists wore saffron as they approached the site

    Encouraged by this, thousands charged towards the outer cordon of police protecting the mosque. ”

  8. “The difference is simple. It is a purely mathamatical difference. The NUMBER of radical Christians, Jews, and Hindus ”

    The difference is simple.It is selective reporting and coverage.While the crimes of muslims is widely reported , magnified ,and repeated for a long time.

    The other difference is that the largest number of countries or areas that under occupations,foreign control and subjecation are muslims countries.

  9. Talk about numbers.

    “A vast crowd, perhaps 150,000 strong, had gathered and was listening to speeches given by BJP and right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders.

    Among those present were LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, now senior figures in the BJP-led government.

    Trouble first broke out in the space below us when young men wearing bright yellow headbands man”

    150,000 Hindu extremists in one incident in one small state in India.

  10. “The root cause of suicide terrorism is occupation, not Islam, and not the other way around, as the War Party and its ill-informed adherents so righteously claim.

    “Don’t you remember Sept. 11? We were attacked!”

    As Harry Browne has pointed out, history does not begin on 9/11. In fact, American intervention in the Middle East dates back to 1919, when U.S. participation in World War I helped turn the entire region over to the British and the French, who then drew borders to their own liking for the states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, what was Palestine, etc.”

  11. “In 2002, other elements came out of Godhra, showing us how different today’s Gujarat is from its own history. This time Godhra was the flashpoint not for rural protest against tyranny, but for the forces of Hindu fascism. A disputed train fire that killed fifty-eight people (most of whom were activists of the Hindu Right) led to a massive pogrom against impoverished Muslim families and modestly well-off Muslim merchants. Even the normally reticent Human Rights Watch could not hold back, and its report’s title revealed not only the anger of the investigators but also their own principle finding, “We have no orders to save you” State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat (April 2002). The Hindu Right let loose its warriors who killed two thousand people and displaced several thousand more. The state apparatus either stood by or actively participated in the torment. Investigators who traced the line of violence routinely met people who told them, “They killed my whole family.” The carnage was ghastly. Historian Tanika Sarkar wrote of a “breathless climate of terror,” as people fled their homes for poorly managed relief camps, afraid not only of the organized mob but also of the police. People couldn’t sleep, afraid that their tormentors would come again. Chief Minister Narendra Modi came to one area and told the terrified residents, “You will be taken care of.” The language chills: he might have meant that the state will protect them, or that it would punish them. His scowl and his brazen defense of his mobs was no comfort.”

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