Friday, February 13, 2009

Free speech follies, American edition

I don't know Joe Kaufman. The other day, however, I received an appeal from FrontPageMagazine's David Horowitz (no, I have no idea why I'm on his email list) to contribute funds to his legal defence. It seems he's being sued by "radical Muslims" for defamation, "to stop him from writing about Muslims in the future and to close down his web sites." He has also been served with a restraining order.

From the appeal letter:

Seven Muslim groups claim that Joe is a threat. They convinced a court that Joe "intends to threaten to take unlawful action...cause bodily injury...or threaten Plaintiffs or their members with immediate bodily injury."

Those Muslim rascals. How did they manage all that in the Land of the Free? In any case, this FrontPageMag writer somehow hasn't managed to get the lawsuit thrown out a year and a half later, and he's facing considerable legal fees. Back to David:

A victory by the Muslim groups would be the first step in silencing all of us. This is a free speech issue and nothing more: Joe has not lied about, threatened, or touched any of the Muslims who are suing him, or any other Muslims for that matter. He simply reported the truth, and for that these groups are doing their best to silence him - and to intimidate the rest of us.

The lawsuit against Joe Kaufman is part of a strategy by these Muslim groups to bully us into silence. That's why we cannot let them win. [emphasis in original]

"A free speech issue and nothing more." Well, I don't know the case at all. Maybe Kaufman is on the side of the angels. The way David tells it, anyway, this is one wronged fellow, being persecuted because he's been busy exposing Muslim charitable organizations who've allegedly been funneling money to Hamas and Hezbollah.

But, by the sheerest chance, I discovered that Joe Kaufman himself doesn't share Horowitz's passionate commitment to freedom of speech. It seems that Kaufman has recently been offended by a bus ad, not one promoting atheism this time, but Islam.

The ad campaign, in Broward County and Dade County, Florida, was sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The text in question is "ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad." A CAIR spokesman explains: "A Muslim is anyone who submits their will to God. By that definition Abraham and all the prophets are Muslim because they submitted their will to God."

Kaufman, who runs an outfit called Americans Against Hate, petitioned Broward County officials to remove the ad, calling it "offensive." They refused, so he organized a rally last month to "send a message."

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Kaufman writes for the right-leaning Web publication Front Page Magazine, and once called for nuclear attacks on Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Since founding Americans Against Hate as a terrorism watchdog group, he wrote that "pure merciless force" was the only way to deal with Muslims.

Gosh. "A free speech issue and nothing more," eh? Why do I get the feeling that there's maybe a little more to Kaufman's current travails than David Horowitz is letting on?

UPDATE: Seems my suspicions were correct. Reader "forgottobuytinfoil" directs us to considerably more information about the case in question. The restraining order was to keep this wingnut from disrupting a Muslim Family Day at an amusement park.

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