Saturday, September 15, 2012

Midnight Raids on Filmmakers that embarrass the President? Yes we Can!

A couple related posts.

Ken On Popehate looks down some of the deatils and reminds us that the guy behind this film is not a nice guy, and may have committed some actionable legal infractions, but that the censorship is also chilling.

This line from Miss W (a Canadian friend) says a bit:
Yeah. The fact that the movie was taken poorly by psychotics shouldn't be reason to go after him legally. But it also shouldn't be reason to withhold completely natural legal action.

It's a bad case. Because Nakoula is an entirely viable target for reasons completely unrelated to the content of the film. It was a scum move, but it's not an actionable move.

The man does need to get hit. But the administration should make it clear 'this is due to his personal legal record (crimes committed to the cast while making the film)- the film is tasteless and juvenile, but is also completely okay'.

Now as a Canadian, and from experience talking with her, Miss W would make the same line of argument no matter the US president. The media, however, would not.

And I have my doubts. As the Admin has been trying to blame it all on the film, with the hopes that it'll "make it go away".

And yes, it has been convenient that this is a guy that the admin had legal leverage against. Not in any tin-foil "Oh isn't that convenient way", but I'm betting the admin breathed a huge sigh of relief when they had an avenue of legal recourse against this man.

Which enabled them to do this.
Update: The preceding link to Instapundit has a lot more updates.

The problem is as Ace says it: "The Muslim Brotherhood President of Egypt demanded that those responsible for blasphemy be prosecuted, and look what's happened."

And a reminder from Ace: "By the way, they usually don't stop at just one midnight knock on the door"

Yes, being a filmmaker does not automatically give you a blanket against all crimes (Hi Roman Polanski!) but the cause and effect is undeniably there.

There is a legitimate question as to when the threat of legal prosecution becomes extortion. This especially comes up when the law is enforced selectively. Like say only certain filmmakers get this kind of investigation into their business practices. Or only certain people have their drug result in the police going after them.

Update: One of the Instapundit updates actually addresses that very point:

And reader Joel Mackey writes: “For the people that think that man had it coming due to prior run ins with the law, they should realize that they commit 3 felonies a day, the feds have all the reason they need to knock on your door at midnight, if you cause problems for them.” Yes, given that the laws are so complex that pretty much everyone is a felon, prosecutorial discretion rules. And that discretion needs to be bounded by political norms that you don’t abuse it just to go after people who express ideas you don’t want expressed. Those norms come from the First Amendment, but if there’s no cost to violating them, they won’t last.

MORE: Reader Richard Eastland writes:

Those who think he had it coming because of probation are sticking their heads in the sand.

He wasn’t hounded because he violated probation. He was persecuted because he made a video that the federal government is upset with.

Regardless of the “how” they are justifying their actions, the “why” is completely clear.

Prosecuting someone because they broke the law is one thing.

Only prosecuting someone who, broke the law, after they embarrassed the administration is gangster government, extortion, and the road to totalitarianism.

Update2: Glenn Reynolds gives a minor correction: "And that’s pretty clearly what’s happened here. Though to be fair, they didn’t actually prosecute him. Just took him downtown to answer a few questions. Voluntarily. After midnight. With a lot of TV cameras there, somehow."

That's part of why I'm not confident that the President or anyone in the administration will make the distinction of "We arrested this guy for crimes unrelated to the content of his speech."

It's also because, they can't even say this much: "In the United States, we are not in the business of approving these messages"?

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