A Gaffe At The Gray Lady

In the Kinsleyan sense of accidentally telling the truth, that is. The paper is running a story today that essentially admits that Nakoula was arrested as a scapegoat:

The film was produced in the United States, though its origins are still shrouded. American federal authorities identified the man behind the film as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55. Though the film does not appear to violate any American laws, the authorities took Mr. Nakoula in for questioning on Saturday over possible federal parole violations connected to an unrelated criminal conviction. That action has done little to tamp down the unrest.

Emphasis mine. Was it supposed to have that effect? If so, it makes it all the worse, because it is a concession to the violent rioters, and simply encourages them, and sends the message that violence will get them what they want. As Professor Jacobson says, empowering people who set fires to define the limits of free speech is how free speech dies.

In other accidental truth telling, the paper also admits that Occupy Wall Street was a pointless fizzle.

[Update a few minutes later]

Related thoughts from Lileks (you’ll have to scroll a bit):

Can’t quite imagine Buddhists rioting over it. Can’t quite imagine Hindus giving a rancid fig for Bill Maher’s opinion. Can’t imagine Copts or Zoroastrians or devotees of Odin pounding the table and shouting THIS SHALL NOT STAND and marching off with a gun to set things right. For that matter, can’t imagine Christians in the South, Africa, or China deciding that the rest of the day shall be devoted to yelling about the existence of a movie written and performed by a comedian who’s just got religion’s number, totally, like no one else ever.

So it’s almost as if –

No, that’s silly.

Okay, I’ll say it. It’s almost as if the author of the piece is carving out a First Amendment exception based on the possible reaction of a particular set of people in a particular place in the world.

Oh, it’s just a little exception. Sure, “you can’t cry fire in a crowded theater” becomes “you can’t mail someone in another country a picture of a match.” But that’s a hard and fast line. You can see quite clearly where the emanation ends, and the penumbra begins.

Don’t give them an inch.

61 thoughts on “A Gaffe At The Gray Lady”

  1. I’ll repeat a question I asked in an earlier thread. Does anybody wonder how a guy (Nakoula) six months out of jail on his second felony conviction suddenly gets $100,000 to make a movie? Does anybody wonder why that movie was redubbed after shooting to be as offensive as possible to Islam? Does anybody wonder how all of a sudden the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem decided to feature it in his sermons?

    In short, is it at least possible that the same movement that brought you 9/11 paid Nakoula to make this movie in order to provide cover for their attack at Benghazi? How can we “connect the dots” on terrorist plots if we can’t even look at the dots?

        1. I never said that I was upset that he was questioned. I was upset that he was hauled into a police station in the middle of the night. He could have been questioned in the privacy of his home, in the day time.

          1. So Obama “threw the 1st Amendment under the bus” not by bringing Nakoula in but by allowing his picture to be taken while coming in?

            So, “you can’t mail someone in another country a picture of a match” doesn’t mean the government can’t question you as to why you mailed the match?

          2. So Obama “threw the 1st Amendment under the bus” not by bringing Nakoula in but by allowing his picture to be taken while coming in?

            Didn’t you read what I wrote?

          3. So, as long as there’s no appearance of government involvement, you can question people about what they post without “throwing the 1st Amendment under the bus?”

          4. I am upset by the manner that Mr. Nakoula was questioned because it was “diplomacy theatre” and an extension of the groveling apology for the provocation of the recent violence. The “bringing someone in” was for show and not for intelligence gathering to get to the truth of the matter.

            So yes, the appearance of government involvement is throwing the 1st Amendment under the bus.

            Is their any limit the Administration can cross that certain persons will defend it?

          5. Paul,

            I like that. We could have a new TV show. We could call it “Groveling for Approbation”, starring ……

          6. The middle of the night was better for Nakoula, since it was harder to get a good photograph of him. His family also left in the middle of the night, even earlier in the morning, and the police had no way to dictate the time of their departure.

          7. Hard to argue it is harder to get a good picture in the middle of the night with all the lights that were there and the modern photographing technology employed by the media.

            Although, the middle of the night is a good time to get coverage in day time Egyptian media.

    1. Is it possible? I guess. Is it plausible? Not so much. Why would AQ feel the need to make a false flag movie to justify doing something that they regularly do without justification? Or, if they felt the need, why not just use Bill Maher’s movie as justification? It’s been out longer, been seen by more people, is equally offensive to Muslims, and wouldn’t cost AQ a dime. I think you might be overthinking this one.

      1. It’s like this, Rob.

        Axiom: Obama is good and always does the right thing.

        Data: Obama appears to have sent brownshirts in the middle of the night to haul off a guy for speech embarrassing to the president.

        Conclusion: Sending brownshirts in the middle of the night to haul off a guy was the right thing to do.


        1. Michael Kent – Those “brownshirts” were LA County Sheriff’s Police. Since when are they under Obama’s command?

          Rob Smith – how else are you going to get people to riot against Americans in Benghazi Libya? Were it not for the US, those rioters would be dead. I also suspect that, if this was a set-up, the setters-up wanted a fresh outrage.

          1. The LA Sheriff’s Department was responding to a request by Nakoula’s *federal* probation officer. Some of the news reports I’ve read mentioned a federal marshal as part of the team that coerced him out of his house in the middle of the night. (But no, they didn’t “arrest” him.)

          2. It would be nice if we had a media that thought it really was a check to the power of politicians and asked the question of who in the Obama administration ordered the man to be apprehended and if Obama himself issued the order.

    2. I would say unlikely. There are a billion things on the internet they could use that cost nothing to produce.

      If you follow such grievance riots in Muslim countries, you know they don’t even need an actual event, they will make up accusations against those they wish to persecute and riot on the unproven accusations.

  2. Jonah has a good piece up today; Spontaneous as a Symphony.

    According to the Obama administration, its policies in the Middle East are working. The Cairo speech, the tougher line with Israel, the withdrawals from Iraq and pending drawdown in Afghanistan, Obama’s coolness to Iran’s failed Green Revolution: These have all been part of the successful effort to repair the damage done by the previous administration. Yet all of that hard work can go up in smoke if some crackpot says something mean about the prophet Mohammed on YouTube?

  3. TO: All
    RE: Sooooo…..

    ….has ANYONE seen Nakoula since his ‘voluntary interview’?

    Is he alive? Is he dead? Is he ‘disappeared’?


    [Inquiring minds want to know.]

  4. So Chris, are you saying that just as the terrorists used our freedom of travel and our powerful and fuel-laden jet airplanes against us in the 9-11-2001 attacks, the same terrorists are using our First Amendment against us in ginning up the provocation for the 9-11-2012 attacks?

    In response to 9-11-2001, we didn’t permanently end air travel, but we tied ourselves up with the TSA. In response to 9-11-2012 we are supposed to restrict our rights of free speech?

    So if we “shut down” a putative terrorist front like Mr. Nakoula, do we need to shut down a “Christian nutcase” like the Jones fellow, and does this escalate to denying Father Joseph Ratzinger (a.ka. Pope Benedict) a visa for quoting from historical sources from the Middle Ages? Where does it end?

    If and “it doesn’t end”, that there is a slippery slope from shutting down Mr. Nakoula’s free speech because he is a terrorist agent, what then is exactly wrong with Mr. Romney saying that we shouldn’t grovel and apologize? Instead of Mr. Romney “jumping the gun”, do you suppose Secretary Clinton is “jumping the gun” for characterizing Mr. Nakoula’s speech as “reprehensible and disgusting.” Shouldn’t the good Secretary pound the table and say that not only is Mr. Nakoula’s speech reprehensible and disgusting, the terrorists who killed our ambassador put him up to it, and there will be “serious consequences”?

    So Chris, are you saying that at least the diplomatic mission in Egypt has “egg on their faces” for apologizing for a movie made by a terrorist agent and that Mitt Romney got something right?

    1. Nakoula’s house was staked out by reporters, and the sheriff’s deputies were there for crowd control. There was no way to secretly question him. More importantly, being questioned in private is no less chilling to free speech than a public questioning.

      Unlike the first 9/11 attacks, we have a bright line we can use as a response. Simply put, if you’re already on probation for felonies, we can and should ask how you funded your movie. If, like Jones et. al., you’re not on probation, then you get to be as big of a jerk as you like.

      The Embassy in Egypt was trying to do what we pay them to do – diplomatically avoid a potential problem. They didn’t know (and we still don’t know for sure) the puts and takes of how this movie came to be. So they said the simple truth – the US government is not in the business of insulting religion.

      Since we still don’t know for sure who put Nakoula up to making the movie, the official stance of the government ought to be limited to punishing those we for sure know are in the wrong – the terrorists in Libya.

      Romney’s big mistake on this was shooting first and aiming later. We, sitting at our desks on the Internet, have that luxury. Presidents don’t, and if Romney doesn’t demonstrate an understanding of that he’s not ready to be President.

      1. “Nakoula’s house was staked out by reporters, and the sheriff’s deputies were there for crowd control. There was no way to secretly question him.”

        Secretly, no. Privately, yes, by doing it indoors.

      2. The Embassy in Egypt was trying to do what we pay them to do – diplomatically avoid a potential problem.

        The best way to do that is to shut up about it, unless asked a direct question. Then, the appropriate answer is “America is a free country, and its residents are free to say what they want about their or other religions without government hindrance. And we wish other countries were so civilized.”

      3. Looked to me like Obama administration jumped the gun with their poorly worded statement and then again when they detained the filmmaker and again when they claimed it was a random incident.

        “the US government is not in the business of insulting religion.”

        Might want to tell that to Obama and HHS.

        “Romney’s big mistake on this was shooting first and aiming later.”

        What’s with the racial dog whistle?

      1. Chris, it’s reasonable to ask that question. But it’s also reasonable to ask an additional question:

        If there was anything suspicious or illegal about the circumstances in which Nakoula made this movie, then why was he released?

      2. It would also be reasonable to question what warnings the Obama administration had and when they had them, what security precautions were taken, why there was no American security with the ambassador, why there was such poor security in Libya after all the attacks there over the summer, why the President skipped his intel briefing the day after the attacks, why the President went to bed early without knowing the fate of the embassy staff, and who ordered the filmmaker detained.

  5. “Can’t quite imagine Buddhists rioting over it. “

    Q: What does a Buddhist riot look like?

    A: World War II.

  6. Do we know he was arrested? I didn’t see it in the NYT article.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am disgusted by the administration’s actions, but I’d like to be sure the facts are correct.

      1. If he could not refuse, could not leave the presence of police, then he was arrested — taken into custody. From the photo, it looks like they had his hands behind his back — possibly handcuffed.

        Curiously, there was the same debate about whether Zimmermann was “arrested” or not — and lawyers pointed out that he may not have been charged that night, but was taken into custody.

  7. The government assigned more armed men to take away Nakoula in the middle of the night for questioning than they assigned to protect Ambassador Stevens in a known Al-Qaeda hotspot on the anniversary of 9/11.

    I don’t want to live in Chris Gerrib’s version of America, where these quasi-Stasi tactics are excused by positing that the target said something offensive to Muslims half a world away, therefore he might be “a terrorist dupe or co-conspirator”.

    1. Positing that a twice-convicted felon on probation with a mysterious funding source deceptively made a video that deliberately played into the hands of people who killed Americans. Sounds more like “connecting the dots” to me.

      1. I made it clear in my original comment that I understood you are happy to have armed government agents taking away Americans in the middle of the night under the pretext that since the target said something offensive to Muslims half a world away, he might be “a terrorist dupe or co-conspirator”.

        After reading your response, I still do not want to live in your version of America where fearful citizens fall over themselves to excuse these sorts of government tactics in the hunt for Emmanuel Goldstein.

        1. Then you misunderstood me. I do not want “armed government agents taking away Americans.”

          I do want felons on probation to follow their probation orders. If those felons do make movies that appear entirely too well-designed to spark anti-American violence, I do want somebody in the US to ask if it was stupidity or malice.

          1. You claim that I misunderstood you, but in the same comment you again make it clear that you think that armed government agents taking away an American citizen in the middle of the night for questioning is appropriate and admirable because he might turn out to be Emmanuel Goldstein – er, “a terrorist dupe or co-conspirator”.

            I don’t think I’ve misunderstood anything.

            And I still do not want to live in your version of America.

      2. When a twice-convicted felon with a mysterious source of funds uses his first amendment rights to say something offensive and politically incorrect, his speech is still protected.

        And we should all be willing to defend to the death his right to say it.

          1. So Chris, you think that the illegal immigrant lady who spoke at the DNC should have been arrested and deported on the spot? You think that Obama’s extended family that have remained in the country illegally should be immediately deported?

            It seems that you think this filmmaker should have the book thrown at him because this whole situation has been bad for Obama but when people the Democrats view favorably break the law, you give them a pass.

  8. He was released after the “interview” and word on the radio now is LASD deputies escorted his family from the house to an unknown location…they are on the run. As to having to roll him up after midnight for routine questioning relating to his parole, that was completely unnecessary. The feds wanting to talk with him could have come to him. They could have made an appointment for a meeting, facilitated by LASD. But the brownshirts took him from the house in cuffs. In the dark of night, with minimal press coverage. Then the DOJ AAG of the Civil Rights Division declines to say he will not prosecute “blasphemers”, talks around it like a mushmouth…which means if Holder wants a prosecution he will do it.

  9. Wait a moment, the Left (who is obsessed with showing the most exquisite sensitivities to every possible nuance of mitigating evidence when the victims are Americans – see: Holy Land Foundation, etc.) are suddenly willing to accept middle of the night police ‘interviews’ on the idea that this assclown MIGHT have been involved with providing a modus vivendi for the terrorirsts? Sorry, I don’t buy it for a heartbeat, and nobody with any sense does.

    Why would alQaeda (or any of the other Mos Eisely spaceport bar patrons) feel any particular need for a cover story? It was 9/11, they were Americans, we don’t like them….what are you doing to do about it? You can get a rent-a-mob in Egypt for a small fraction of the money that this idiot used to make a video, and in Libya, they will do it for free. Since when is sophisticated propaganda their modus operendi?

    What it DOES sound like, however, is the kind of news manipulation that the administration likes to engage in. Then of course, this could be explained by projection….it is what they would do under the same circumstanes.

    It is possible that Chris’ idiotic scenario is possible, but it is also possible that Obama is a secret Taliban mole operating under deep cover. Both are so unlikely as to be pure fantasy, and ‘simply speculating’ about them is treating either scenario with a respect that it doesn’t deserve.

    1. I’m completely confused by this discussion. It looks to me like the primary federal involvement was to help the filmmaker and his family go into hiding. That he was on parole, that he violated his parole, and that he was a federal informant all seem secondary. Weren’t the sheriff’s duputies protecting Nakoula’s family? Could it be that yes, the probationary officers wanted to question him, but the “middle of the night” timing was to help him not get assassinated? If not, then why did the family leave with police protection under the middle of the night as well?

      1. A lot of you appear quite willing to assume the very worst about our country based on almost no information. The USA suddenly using KGB tactics would be an extraordinary event, and I would require extraordinary evidence to make me believe it. In this case, I see practically no evidence.

        1. Well let’s see…we have people and organizations all of a sudden finding themselves on the business end of an IRS investigation…

          starting with Joe the Plumber….

          there have been many examples of this sort of thing – and other things that comprise the Chicago Way – for 3+ years.

          The evidence is circumstantial bout mountainous.

          I put nothing past these guys – especially after an election.

          But to be fair, I put nothing past politicians – that’s why their powers, reach, and coffers need to be strongly reduced.

      2. ” It looks to me like the primary federal involvement was to help the filmmaker and his family go into hiding.”

        How do you get to this?

        They didn’t help his family go into hiding until after the detention and perp walk.

        What time was it in Egypt when this perp walk was being televised?

      3. The protective custody idea has some merit. However, if that was the case then they went about it in a rather clumsy way. I’m not familiar with the laws about protective custody – anyone else?

  10. Petty quibble perhaps: you CAN yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, as long as there really is a fire. In fact, it maybe your duty to yell.

  11. Maybe the journalists could ask the USA peaceful Muslims – “Do you agree with the criminalization of blasphemy? What is the appropriate punishment for a blasphemer?”

    1. Yeah. That’d be an interesting question. One of the nicest people I know is a Muslim, but I’m pretty sure that “turn the other cheek” wouldn’t be her reply.

  12. The normal way to handle a possible probation violation by a felon with a conviction on a non-violent crime is for the probation officer to call him up and tell him to report to his office to discuss it. If he doesn’t show up the PO might go to his house, by himself, to pick him up.

    In this case the way it was handled was intended to send a message. Not to the felon or Americans in general, but to the audience in the Muslim world.

    In most Muslim countries the authorities can and do come around to your house in the middle of the night if you have done something that the powers that be don’t like.

    So when the LA County Sheriff sent uniformed deputies to pick up Nakoula in the middle of the night, it fulfills the expectations of the mob. Especially because the TV news was tipped off, insuring that it would be broadcast worldwide.

    That is what the mob wanted to see and what was shown to them. As far as they’re concerned they saw the US arrest someone for insulting the Prophet. And that is exactly what the US government wanted them to see. That’s the only explanation of why this went down the way it did.

    So now, the Muslim world has seen that they are justified in their rage and that the US government can arrest someone for insulting their Prophet. After all, haven’t they seen it on TV?

    So when someone tells them that the US cannot arrest someone for blasphamy, they know they are lying. Didn’t they see them do just that?

    There was a message sent. But it was not the one the media is telling you.

  13. The comparison to other religions is very telling. Islam is the only major religion in the world (scientiologists sometimes do the same, but I dont count them as a major religion) that reacts with violence to petty insults like these. That makes it clear that the problem is not with us, or even with religion in general, it is with Muslims, and only Muslims, and carving out a special religious insult exception just for them just rewards their barbarism.

Comments are closed.