The Nakoula Case has Completely Discredited the ACLU

Since Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was interrogated, arrested and charged as a show of appeasement to the Muslim world and a warning to those who would exercise their right of free speech to offend Muslims, a number of civil rights groups have spoken out on the subject. The ACLU has not been one of them.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation and the First Amendment Center have made clear public statements on the dangerous and troubling actions of the Obama Administration, but the ACLU has been completely absent in the greatest free speech case of this century.

A search of the ACLU site reveals only one mention of the case and it is a laborious defense of Obama that, to its credit, does argue that the video cannot be censored. That’s all.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner has condemned the movie and Nakoula while giving only lip service to the censorship questions raised by Obama’s request to Youtube to take down the video and the imprisonment of the Mohammed filmmaker.

Gene Policinski, the executive director of the First Amendment Center, on the other hand has seriously addressed the issues here.

“We have first amendment protections for our right of free speech, but they are somewhat hollow rights if not protected by an independent judiciary to call government to account,” said Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center.

“That’s what has to happen here. The judge has to fairly evaluate whether this is a back door way to punish him for expressing an opinion that is unpopular in the country,” Policinski said.

“With what little I know of parole system, I know it is overworked, overburdened, and moves so slowly. Yet within weeks or days here this man was being held and prosecuted. It is a high profile case, but that’s a warning flag. Why so fast? Why so quick?” asked Policinski.

Not to mention that the Nakoula case appears to be being handled by a top Federal prosecutor. How often does that happen with probation violation cases?

I certainly don’t agree with many of Policinski’s positions or those of the First Amendment Center, but in the Nakoula case, the FAC has shown that it honestly does care about freedom of speech and government censorship. The ACLU has shown that it does not. And Policinski’s statement on the riots is something that we can all agree on.

In some ways, we all — Americans and those caught up in violence overseas — are paying the price for foreign governments that control speech and religious liberty. Those rigid systems fear dissent and diversity, and teach by example that cabal and conspiracy are behind every public utterance.

Societies used to the give-and-take of public debate are not so easily shocked by a video or cartoon with a contrary view. In nations where religious liberty exists for all, no faith need fear for its survival.

The only long-term solution in the Middle East and elsewhere to the outrage, destruction and death over speech that offends rests in the First Amendment’s core provision for more speech, not less.

The First Amendment Center has stepped up to the plate while the ACLU has stepped down.

  • Reason_For_Life

    Two points:

    One – This is not the most important free speech case in history. That case was just won (Citizens United) where the ACLU supported overturning parts of McCain Feingold. Hyperbole isn't necessary in the case of Nakoula.

    "Hate speech" has always been a problem for the ACLU. They're split internally in this issue between the hard core libertarians who abide no restrictions on speech and the the supposedly "wise" authoritarians who believe that "hurtful" speech intimidates people and therefore restricts their freedom to act. This conflict constrains the ACLU in too many cases rendering its defenses of free speech weak and contradictory.

    Two – Nakoula is not a free speech case. The You Tube video is not the subject any more. Even Obama is afraid to take on YouTube and Google after the one day of outages sparked near cyber-riots over SOPA. Nakoula's treatment is obviously far out of proportion for a parole violation. When have you ever seen a parole violator "perp walked"? This is a case of selective prosecution for political reasons and, as such, may be more dangerous than an indirect attack on free speech.

    Nakoula is a sacrifice being made to the Islamist "crocodile" in the hope that by sating the beast it will refrain from further attacks. History shows that the more the beast eats, the hungrier it gets.

    At least those who offend Muhammad aren't being burned at the stake. At least, not yet.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      This is direct free speech. CU was not. And Islam is a far larger issue than campaign finance.

      The YouTube video remains the issue. The prosecution is a way of appeasing Muslims.

      • Reason_For_Life

        The YouTube video is still there. Anyone can watch it. The administration lost and Google won. YouTube executives are not being arrested. Only one poor scapegoat is in jail. Citizens United was the single most basic kind of free speech issue. Can you use your own money to spread your ideas? Nothing is more important than that issue.

        Islam is a non-issue and always has been. It's a distraction used to convince people that they are in mortal danger and need to surrender their liberty. Whether it's one group arguing to appease the crocodile or the other group arguing for x-ray examination of airline passengers the answer is always "surrender just a little more freedom and then you 'll be safe".

        To hell with both sides. Their goals are the same – less liberty and more government.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          It lost against Google, but it won a propaganda victory for Muslim appeasement by arresting and putting the man behind the video on trial.

          Free speech is speech. It's the ability to say something without being hauled away to jail.

          Sure, Islam is a non-issue. Ignore the barbarians. It's time to debate the rate at which Rome is burning. And Ron Paul for president.

  • Mike Nelson

    There is a good posiblility that Nakoula is not an Copt but a Phalistian and is just trying to slander Coptic Christians. As far as the ACLU goes there are not going to do anything that might harm Obama's reelection chances they care more about a fellow travler beng in charge of the US government than FREE SPEACH. The Aclu is nothing but a bunch of hard core lefistists who care far more about thier agenda than any part the US constitution.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      There is a possibility of that and I have written about that.

  • gus owens

    Why doesn't the ACLU just come right out and say that they are just a mouth-piece for leftist free speech?