Monday, May 04, 2015

CNN Tonight airs "Free Speech v. Common Sense" forum on Garland, Texas attempted attack


CNN had intended to air the film “Blindsided” tonight, about the history of ISIS, but put if off another week, until May 11, to air an AC360 “Police Under Fire” town hall based on the Baltimore situation.
  
But on CNN Tonight, Don Lemon aired “Free Speech v. Common Sense” to analyze the attempted attack in Garland, Texas on a “cartoon drawing contest” sponsored by the “American Freedom Defense Initiative”, headed by Pamela Geller.  Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were shot by Garland police. The FBI is examining their apartment in Phoenix and overseas ties, but believes they were probably “lone wolves” inspired by ISIS ideology online but not formally trained.  CNN’s latest online story is  here.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the foiled attack, with a bellicose statement, as reported in many media outlets, here.
  
Geller’s activity certainly reminds one of Molly Norris, who had tried to encourage a cartoon-drawing day in 2010 and whom the FBI encouraged to go into hiding.


The group has been called an anti-Muslim “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Some have discussed offensive ads taken out by the group in various public places like the subways.  
   
Don Lemon had three panel guests on the program, Alam Dershowitz, Amani Al-Khatehtbeh, and Zia Sheikh.  Dershowitz said that hate speech is constitutionally protected, and as a matter of law, is not considered “incitement” to violence, unless it directly urges people to act.  Dershowitz also said that among major religions, only Islam has a subgroup that is radical enough to encourage violence merely as to suppress speech.  But there would then be a corresponding question as to whether foreign speech trying to incite “lone wolves” crosses the legal line and is no longer protected by the First Amendment.
   
Dershowitz also took exception to a style of thinking that blames speakers for making others feel offended and then bringing violence back upon themselves or persons connected to them (family).

Again, the combative ideology of radical Islam, not tolerating certain speech or images in public against it, comports more with a group mindset common in the past, where tribes fought each other based on religious affiliation, and took group revenge, rather than directly an objection to western individualism (was we used to see with violent groups on either the radical left or radical right).  This really is war over religion, which sounds absurd to many western people, even those who have no trouble reconciling faith with modern physics. 
             
Hate speech may be constitutionally protected, but terms of service policies in social media typically ban it.  Even self-publishing companies for books do “content review” of books in part to ensure they are not hate speech.

Vox Media has an article by Max Fisher explaining that the gathering was a "hate" event, here.

May 5:

There is more from CNN on the level of participation from anyone overseas from ISIS here.  There are also accounts that the public is lucky that the policeman had not left yet and was able to hit both suspects with his handgun despite their body armor.

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