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« Meet The New Boss (Hopefully Not) The Same As The Old Boss | Main | They Didn't All Know They Were Islamakazis »

Walker Treason

Dale Amon writes at Samizdata:

We don't know what he actually did so how can we decide his fate from in front of our comfortable computer screens? For all we know he could have been dragged along by events and lain cowering in the basement wondering at his own idiocy. Or perhaps he went to fight with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance never imagining he could end up fighting his own country. After all, on September 10th how many of us would have considered US forces in Afghanistan as even the remotest possibility? If that were the case he is a soldier of fortune who got caught up in the wrong war at the wrong time. A few years in prison and a slap on the wrist would suffice.

The problem with this is the statement "for all we know." Unfortunately for Mr. "Marinhadeen," we know a good deal more. He continued to display his idiocy after being pulled from the flooded basement. We know that when asked if he supported the twin towers bombing, after much prodding and avoidance, he finally answered "Yes." How does that square with the theory that he just got caught up with the wrong crowd, and never imagined that he'd be taking up arms against his countrymen?

While we still have a first amendment, in times like these words like, "I support the attack on the WTC" have consequences. Certainly they could be grounds for, at a minimum, deportation of someone not in the country legally. It's not clear exactly where the line lies between simple opposition to US policies and sedition, but when someone is found, armed, among people who have been shooting at American troops, and he offers such words, he is so far across it that he can't even see it from there.

I don't think that in this case hanging him as an example is all that useful--there are very few other loonytoons like him to deter, but I would like to see him do some hard time, and be given opportunities to use it to undo his (non)education in Marin County, and learn how to think, and distinguish good ideas (freedom, etc.) from bad (flying planeloads of innocents into buildings full of innocents).

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 10, 2001 11:06 AM
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I am not sure how you can justify the statement that while we have a First Amendment, the statement "I support the attack on the WTC" is justification for abrogation of that very right. Now actually giving support (logistical, that is) would be grounds for that, but by the same token that we don't deport skinheads, anti-abortion activists, environmental wackos, etc, we can't deport Muslim fanatics who haven't done anything!! We can, however, be vigilant about any efforts anyone in any of these groups might make to plan and/or execute a terrorist act. Granted, this is a lot harder than throwing the bums out, but its the First Amendment for a reason.

Posted by Paul Orwin at December 11, 2001 07:34 AM

I may be wrong, but for non-citizens, I don't believe that the First Amendment precludes deporting them for speech. They have a right to say anything they want, but they don't have a right to be in this country--it is a privilege granted, and not an unconditional one. During wartime, such views are legitimately viewed as seditious, and being deported is the easiest thing that we could do (much easier than following them around), though certainly not the harshest.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 11, 2001 10:08 AM

You are right about the non-citizen part, but of course Mr. Walker is a citizen, and would have to be stripped of that first. Actually, now that I think of it, I don't agree with the citizenship stipulation. My wife is a Permanent Resident; does that mean she can be censored? If it does, it shouldn't. I think the value of the First Amendment is in its ideal of free speech for all, and we ought to extend it to speech we don't agree with in all instances, not just when the speakers happen to be fellow Americans. By the way, the sedition laws passed during various wars have been some of the low points in U.S. history, and are probably not a good model of our current or future behavior.

Posted by Paul Orwin at December 11, 2001 11:58 AM

First Amendment freedom is not absolute (e.g., the classic shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre example). In times of war, it is circumscribed even more, and even words of support for enemy action can constitute providing "aid and comfort."

Like it or not, that's the way it is.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 11, 2001 01:57 PM

Let me be on record as saying, I do not like it!! Does that make me a traitor, Mr. Ashcroft?? BTW, we are not "at war" until Congress says so. We can't throw the Constitution away just yet. It's hard to be a small l libertarian, I guess, but wanting the government to clamp down on free speech doesn't jive with your other positions, in my opinion.

Posted by Paul Orwin at December 12, 2001 01:25 PM

That last post was a little harsh, and I apologize. I just can't accept the "It's been done, before, so it must be ok", and "that's the way it is" arguments. I don't think that free speech should be curtailed in times of war. The "aid and comfort" idea is only applicable in terms of tangible things (logistical support), not voiced approval. Just as I support your right to argue with me, I support their right to say stupid things, and our collective right to shout them down. "Fire" in a movie theater is just not the same!!

Posted by Paul Orwin at December 12, 2001 01:27 PM

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