Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Lawsuit accuses Facebook of abetting terror

A lawsuit filed in New York accuses Facebook of allowing its service to used by Palestinian groups “to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens.” Eugene Volokh predicts the case “is going nowhere” given both the First Amendment and Section 230, “47 U.S.C. § 230 — [which] prevents Internet service and content providers from being held liable for speech by their users.” More: Daniel Fisher notes a publicity angle.

Encryption and the Paris attacks

Almost at once after the Paris attacks, speculation began to circulate that the murderers had used encrypted communications to plan their operation and that legislation giving government backdoor tools to break encryption was therefore needed more urgently than ever. Later reports have suggested, however, that the plotters employed a combination of plain vanilla unencrypted messaging with in-person communication. [Karl Bode/TechDirt, The Verge, Vice “Motherboard” (“How the Baseless ‘Terrorists Communicating Over Playstation 4’ Rumor Got Started”)] Related: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View. A contrary view: Alex Spence and Duncan Gardham, Politico Europe.

Banking and finance roundup

  • Marcia Narine on D.C. Circuit’s recent ruling striking down part of Dodd-Frank conflict mineral disclosure rule [Business Law Prof]
  • More on suit challenging constitutionality of FATCA, the law complicating many expatriates’ lives [Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine]
  • “Jury Will Put A Price On Terrorism — And Stick A Bank With The Bill” [Daniel Fisher, Reuters on Arab Bank settlement]
  • Operation Choke Point: “How a program meant to stamp out fraud has put a stranglehold on legitimate industries” [Reason TV video, AmmoLand on markup of Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s anti-Choke-Point Financial Institution Customer Protection Act]
  • Federal Reserve’s denial of core banking services to Colorado cannabis businesses: consistent with its authorizing statutes? [George Selgin/Cato, related from me on RICO suit against bankers, bonders, and others interacting with the industry]
  • “A financial system based not on … charging interest for lending … but on traditional social values”: Russia’s Orthodox Church backs interest-avoiding finance system akin to Islamic sharia finance [Bloomberg, Moscow Times]
  • Two popular views in tension with each other: “Wall Street = short term thinking” and “Wall Street spins meager current earnings into bubbles” [Kevin Erdmann via Tyler Cowen]

Annals of bonkers scholarship: “Trahison des Professeurs”

I’ve seen a hundred wacky and extreme papers out of legal academia, and wrote about more than one in Schools for Misrule, but this one, published by the National Security Law Journal at George Mason (whose editor-in-chief has already repudiated it) stands out. You can read the whole story at The Guardian, including links to some of the controversies that have followed author William Bradford, but it might make more sense to hand the gavel over to distinguished legal scholar and Prof. Jeremy Rabkin in his four-page rebuttal:

When an article proposes to arrest law professors and bomb law schools and nearby TV studios, it’s not engaging in “controversy,” but slipping into an alternate universe. It’s not “discomforting.” It is bonkers. The journal could not reasonably have expected readers to “respond” – unless to ask, “Are you out of your minds?”

Monday update: Bradford resigns.

On the Garland cartoon show attack

Much can and will be said about the attack in Texas and its aftermath, but here is what came to mind for me. On current trends, many outspoken Americans will soon be living in hiding or under guard. To me that’s a bigger story than whether I find their views unsavory. And of course it’s going to happen to many whose views I don’t find at all unsavory. That’s the lesson of Salman Rushdie and his translators, the Danish cartoonists etc. And even when many respectables are living in hiding, under guard, or dead, a large bloc of polite opinion will still look the other way. Something is wrong in that.

As for what can be done, as a writer, I naturally think in terms of what writers and editors can do. The PEN gala award was a good example of a positive step that deserves our applause. It would be a positive step if Yale University Press had printed the (very tame) Danish Mohammed cartoons when it published a book on that episode. It would be a positive step if CNN and other networks did not black out or crop out even very tame cartoons when covering the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Danish Jyllands-Posten episode, or the winning Garland contest entry. When there is no solidarity, the minority of publications that remain uncowed stick out more, and so are in more danger.

The threats are nothing new: mobs ransacked newspaper offices and lynched editors in the Nineteenth Century, 21 died when unionists bombed the L.A. Times in 1910, and so forth. Somehow it didn’t shut them up, and I hope we have the resolve not to let it shut us up either.

Controversial speech, the Texas attack, and the murderer’s veto

The unsuccessful attack on an exhibition of Mohammed cartoons in Garland, Texas, near Dallas, is the most recent attempted mass murder on American soil endeavoring to silence expression bothersome to radical Islamists; it is unlikely to be the last. Some thoughts assembled from Twitter:

One early, ill-considered reaction from the legacy media:

But the legacy media coverage didn’t necessarily improve after a day for reporting and reflection:

As commentators have pointed out, the narrow “fighting words” exception in today’s First Amendment law is generally reserved for (at most) face-to-face insults likely to provoke an on-the-spot brawl, not to derogatory speech more generally:

Echoes of the PEN awards controversy going on at the same time:

On which memorably, also, Nick Cohen in the Spectator.

Earlier on the Charlie Hebdo and Copenhagen attacks.

More: Ken White skewers that awful McClatchy piece with its misunderstandings about “fighting words.” And don’t miss Michael Moynihan on those who would “make a bold stand against the nonexistent racism of 12 dead journalists by refusing to clap for the one who got away,” or related and very good Caleb Crain.

“Rejecting the assassin’s veto,” PEN to honor Charlie Hebdo

And very appropriately, too. But at least six literati, including Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, and novelist and New Yorker contributor Teju Cole, have withdrawn from next month’s gala to express distaste for the murdered cartoonists, a gesture about which Matt Welch has a few comments. More: New York Times, AP. And from fatwa target Salman Rushdie, who knows a thing or two about this topic:

“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” Mr. Rushdie said. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

Meanwhile, Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, has canceled an event on Charlie Hebdo, the university delicately citing a lack of “risk assessment.” [Channel 4, Belfast Live]

Free speech roundup

  • UK wrongful-speech laws sold to public “with mawkish appeals to the protection of the weak” but typically used by strong, rich and well connected [Charles C.W. Cooke on Galloway episode]
  • “Danish terrorist attack survivor: ‘It’s a fight that we can’t ignore'” [Lena Masri, Poynter]
  • “It gives me no comfort to have my constitutional rights trampled in a bipartisan fashion.” [Eric O’Keefe, quoted in M.D. Kittle, Wisconsin Watchdog profile of John Doe target Kelly Rindfleisch via @andrewmgrossman]
  • “I speak here of the rule of law, not the rule of feels.” [Ken at Popehat on BlockBot listings as non-defamation]
  • Rolling back SCOTUS’s First Amendment-based jurisprudence: “Hillary Clinton says she would support a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform” [Washington Post]
  • “Court Rules San Diego’s Law Prof’s Blog Post Was Not Defamatory” [TaxProf]
  • “Another Day, Another Dumb New York Times Story on Corporations and Free Speech” [Damon Root, Reason, vs. Times columnist Timothy Egan]
  • Sounds promising: Robert Corn-Revere has a book in the works on free speech [Ronald K.L. Collins, Concurring Opinions]

Garry Trudeau vs. Charlie Hebdo

“Spare me your sanctimony about ‘punching down’ – when someone brings a gun to the fight, punching down is a kindness,” wrote Jason Kuznicki at the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. His words well anticipated the spectacle of cartoonist Garry Trudeau (“Doonesbury”) now suggesting that it is “hate speech” to challenge the claims of a major world religion some of whose fanatical adherents regularly menace cartoonists, journalists, scholars, and artists around the world. Eugene Volokh dissects Trudeau here, keeping his temper better than I suspect I would have done. And more from Amanda Kendal in the U.K.; pursuant to points both Volokh and Kendal make, the arbitrary and manipulable nature of the “punching up/down” discourse is an important clue to its intended use as a mechanism of control.

Earlier on Trudeau and Doonesbury here and here. More: David Frum; Jesse Walker (Trudeau inaccurate re: actual editorial posture of Charlie Hebdo); Ken at Popehat (“journalists who confront and defy blasphemy norms are helping to make the point that religious offense is no excuse for murder. If that’s punching down, let’s punch harder.”)