Awfully Convenient…

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the director of the “Innocence of Muslims” movie, which has been blamed for setting off riots and murders in Islamic countries, has (conveniently?) been arrested for violating the terms of his probation. Among the terms of his probation: He was not allowed to se the Internet or a computer, which I presume he had to do in order to create and distribute his film. (source). From the sounds of it, the guy isn’t the most savory character in the world.

So yeah, it seems to me that he probably violated his probation.

Greg Pollowitz at The National Review wrote:

Listen, if you’re a two-time felon who is out on parole and told not to use an alias in business dealings or use the Internet and then you lie to reporters at the AP and WSJ using your alias and admitting you used the Internet, then what do you think is going to happen? (source)

Which is the only reason that he is now being held without bail, right? (source). Right?

It doesn’t have the slightest bit to do with the content of his film or the way that a bunch of idiots, brainwashed with superstition, reacted to it.

Let us presume that my cynicism is misplaced. Let us presume that it has nothing to do with that. It still sends the wrong message — that when the government does not like your speech, it can find a way to get you, First Amendment or no First Amendment.

Nikki Finke and Dominic Patten, at Deadline Hollywood saw it this way:

His arrest today is an apparent U.S. attempt to appease worldwide Muslims and their clerics and governments demanding for the YouTube video to be removed and its filmmaker punished. In an address on Tuesday condemning the content of the video, President Obama explained, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.” This legal action is a way to preserve America’s  First Amendment principles but at the same time find a roundabout but legitimate way to punish Bakoula for the crudely made film that portrays the Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile. (source)

I’m not saying that Nakoula should get a free pass for his probation violations. I am not saying that Finke and Patten are correct. Pollowitz has a hell of a good point. Nakoula couldn’t have made his probation violations any more public, and thus prosecutors had to do something.

Nevertheless, if Muslims are allowed to riot and kill people because they are offended at how their imaginary friend gets portrayed, I’m allowed to be offended when the government sends the message (on purpose or not) that “if you publish a film that we don’t like, we’ll find a way to put you in jail.”

10 Responses to Awfully Convenient…

  1. John Burgess says:

    So, the government is in a damned-if-you-do; damned-if-you-don’t position.

    His probation officers didn’t notice his transgressions until his actions were noticed by others. I suspect that happens rather frequently, in fact, with friends and enemies alike ready to rat out a violator for various reasons, good and bad.

    It would have been far better had the White House not entered into the fray, but that only gives bad optics, not bad law. It complicates the job of others who have to explain what’s going on because it opens a door to conspiracy theories.

    Those of us who try to explain the importance of First Amendment protections to others have to defeat conspiracy theories or misunderstandings of the US legal system before we can get to the meat of the issue. I consider this a political and WH failure, not one of the CA legal system

  2. SeanSatori says:

    I’m not quite getting why there is any connection. The message here is if you violate probation, you will go back to jail. The probation in this matter existed prior to his expressive activity, and is in no way related to it.

    In a reverse hypothetical, how about he creates a film the government likes, and then goes on to violate probation in the same way. Would you expect the government to give him a pass, since it liked the results of his work, although not the means by which he made it?

  3. The film sucked. It’s horrible and nearly impossible to watch. Many of the actors have come forward to say they were duped and the shooting scripts they were given did not mention Muhammad and the story was cut in such a manner as to create a different story than what was on paper.

    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a talentless hack and a dumbass. He’s also a short-sighted idiot and a criminal.

    If the prohibitions against the use of a computer and the use of an alias were legal, then I don’t see going to bat for this guy. If there was a violation of his First Amendment rights I would think they occurred with the terms of his probation. If not, then he basically asked to be arrested.

    A five year prohibition against the use of a computer is a stupid term (without having actually read the prohibition). I would say this would be impossible to do in today’s society. Banking, job applications, government benefit applications, etc. all have to be done on a computer. Hell, my cell phone is a more complex computer than the laptop I owned 10 years ago. A Kindle is a computer. Imagine what computers will be like in 5 more years.

    If the government was using this to take down the video I would find it totally egregious. As it stands Nakoula made his violations very public and wanted to be arrested.

  4. CPlatt says:

    In Nakoula’s past, he was arrested for a drug offense which would normally entail jail time. Yet, he only got probation–sometimes a sign of someone functioning as a snitch. So is he only working for himself, or–?

    His “movie” existed for months before anyone noticed it. The attacks on embassies occurred on an anniversary of 9/11. The US govt has since admitted that the attacks were coordinated, not as spontaneous as was originally claimed.

    And why was Nakoula arrested publicly, by federal agents with state assistance, news media having been tipped off to be there? And why did it take–what, a couple of weeks?–since then, to charge him with a parole violation?

    There is so much wrong with this mess, it’s hard to know where to begin. None of it is credible. Plus you have reports that the ambassador who was shot did not have proper security, and marines “guarding” the embassy did not have ammunition. I realize the focus of this blog is on speech, and I agree that targeting Nakoula (and apologizing for his movie at the UN!) creates a chilling effect. But the real motives involved are not yet known and may never be known.

  5. Ancel De Lambert says:

    “It doesn’t have the slightest bit to do with the content of his film or the way that a bunch of idiots, brainwashed with superstition, reacted to it. ”
    Is it possible, then, that the Judge fears for Nakoula’s safety? If there’s a bunch of idiots waiting in the wings to get their hands on him, perhaps keeping him in custody is the smart thing to do.

    • CPlatt says:

      “The smart thing to do?” For whom? By your logic, we should all feel thankful to be detained “for our own good” if we make a statement that offends potentially violent people. This of course would be in addition to all the other liberties that I have already lost “for my own good.”

      Why is it so hard to remember that government exists to serve us, not the other way around?

  6. Cephas Q. Atheos says:

    On the subject of “Damned if you do…”, I wonder how many “Truthers” or other TinFoil-Hat-Wearing Induhviduals will be claiming the White House put the poor sod up to it in the first place? I mean, if it’s not inherently defensible to say “Hey, it wasn’t us, it was this bad, bad man…”, what is? All the rest of the show – the grovelling, snivelling apology in the UN, in particular – is just the icing on the cake.

    Surely the whackjobs should call it the “Great Mohammed Ricochet”… :)

    • CPlatt says:

      Would it be possible to discuss this without knee-jerk denigration of media-defined groups using cliches and derogatory shorthand terms that are intended to discredit ideas by mocking the people who hold them? You know, “truthers” and “whackjobs” and all the rest. The implication is that you’re a model of objectivity, while people who have different ideas are hopelessly irrational. I find this implausible and certainly not helpful, especially since there is ample evidence of past government activities such as false-flag provocations, coverups, FBI sting operations, and the like. You have no idea whether Nakoula acted on his own initiative or not. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But there’s certainly no shortage of evidence that doesn’t add up, here.

      • Cephas Q. Atheos says:

        It’s possible, I guess… but not when people fail to understand the point of someone else’s comment entirely! (And for the record, I’m 100% subjectively objective. I can’t help it.)

        Either that, or you’re actually taking offense at someone (me) poking fun at people who really are psychologically incapable of distinguishing truth from reality.

        Since I didn’t specifically call you a whackjob or a Truther, and I didn’t call the poor bastard who’s the subject of the blog one of those names, I fail to see where your spew of vitriol came from, or is aimed at, and I’m a bit bemused that you’d think to take that sort of view about someone you don’t know who’s simply made a passing reference in a comment to a blog.

        However, since you opened that can of worms, I’ll state for the record that I consider *anyone* who believes in free zero-point energy, religion, homeopathic remedies, Xenu, UFOs, chiropractors, pyramid power, fake moon landings, ESP investigators, psychics, horoscopes, people talking to the dead, or that the US government covered up – or were even involved with – the destruction of the WTC towers and associated buildings, a nutter, a whackjob, an idiot in search of a village, a dunderhead, a ninnyhammer, and a person who’s lost touch with reality. Note that I’m not calling you that at all. But if the Tin Hat fits…

  7. andrews says:

    [anyone who believes … that the US government … involved with [9/11]]

    Well, let’s be fair here. It seems vanishingly unlikely that the govt did anything expressly promoting the 9/11 hijackings. But they did things to make it easier. They disarm passengers as a matter of policy. They carry out security theatre so that the disarming seems sensible. And of course they don’t make the disarming effective against those with bad motives.

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