I attended the Middle East Forum's Libel Lawfare Conference and all I got was a 100 year old English translation of the Urdu booklet "The British Government and Jihad." Actually, I got far more, as I'm sure most of the participants did from this excellent conference courtesy of the Legal Project at the Middle East Forum. Hat's off to Brooke Goldstein for organizing it, sorry I missed your opening remarks. The story of the Urdu booklet on Jihad took place during lunch, and will have to wait for another time. But since I may have your attention, will proceed with a condensed review of the day supported by a bunch of shaky videos.
Within the plush embrace of the Capital Hilton, three blocks north of the Comrade in Chief's residence, the conference offered panelists with domestic and foreign perspectives on lawfare. From the morning session came the following items for consideration:
Frank Gaffney: Religious and Secular trans-nationalism has America in a pincer movement that if not opposed will end free speech as we know it. The first amendment won't be revoked, but yielding sovereignty to global organizations, campus speech codes, and lawsuits will "chill" free speech to the point that no one will want to exercise, or be able to afford to, their right. Related point and action item: Say No to Koh. Call your Congressman and Senators: No on Harold Koh!
RFDAH Note: Two words that should stop being used in the discourse of this subject because of over-repetition and/or irrelevance: chilling effect and speaking respectfully. Chill is just over-used and I want viciously passionate arguments. If they mean civil discourse vs. jerry springer, that's different, but respect grants quarters to an enemy that would afford us none.
Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz: Italy indicted him on comments he made about an Italian judge from his office in Boston. Italy extended its jurisdiction from Rome to Baaahston. He flew to Italy to confront them, and will take his course through all the highest courts of the land in Eurabia. Point being, when no crime has been committed you must be acquitted. Slinking away with an unenforceable foreign judgment against you is unacceptable and does nothing to further the cause. Pick your head up, fight the charges, demand to be cleared, promote, and get the US gov to more actively promote our model of free speech.
Legal system as it is has most responsible media (TV and journalism) with the least protection and the least responsible (internet) gets the most protection. This is greatly skewing the system.
Perhaps the best moments were his exchanges with Gaffney on Sharia. It would be the cowards way to say Dershowitz was a prickly liberal refusing to acknowledge the realities of the world. Dershowitz challenged Gaffney, "you have not made the case." Dershowitz would go on to acknowledge and request the opportunity to learn more about Sharia, but his point stands. If he represents the people we are trying to win over, we need to improve our game. You may be right, but you're not being winning the argument. I'm pretty sure the Law and Order scene change music was going to play at any second.
Finally, free speech in neutral and restrictions work both ways. Dershowitz kept going back to Kashrut law protections offering protection for Sharia. RFDAH Note: How can you be pro-Israel and pro-sharia (he defended various sharia compliance scenarios, not enough detail in scenarios for him to really to make an informed opinion if he wasn't already savvy on shraia. )?
Andrew C. McCarthy: US government has a duty to protect the freedom of US citizens over the rest of the world.
James Taranto: Free Speech not in danger based on SCOTUS Brandenburg v. Ohio. Works both ways though. Advocating violence is protected speech but incitement to violence is not protected. RFDAH Note: Disagree, free speech very much threatened.
John J. Walsh: Out in deep left field. Everything you'd expect from a defense lawyer. His lone good point, libel tourism laws as proposed could be too broad and strip those actually damaged of the right to legal recourse. His solution: an international body to determine a solution. RFDAH gags.
Then began the peanut gallery circus of questions, and it was a notable peanut gallery featuring Charles Jacobs, a Pakistani Imam, and a host of others distinguished individuals. RFDAH note on question etiquette in general. I know the nerves may get you, the excitement may overtake you...but get to the damn point. Too many, and one is too many, first offered cathartic releases before getting to an actual question. This left about eight people without time to ask their questions, and I really wanted to hear what the lady in the festooned hijab was going to ask.
Lunch break. I didn't have access to the lunch time Invitation Only session, so I decided to do the next best thing, go right to the elephant in the room, the one who stood out amongst a sea yamicas and gentiles, the Imam with the big hat. I spent 30 minutes debating the Pakistani Imam and his Senegal national companion about Islamist aggression, Free Speech, and a Prophet of Mercy that beheaded 600 Jews. That is another story, but I will reveal this, while the give and take was good, and I walked away feeling these men were not wahabbists, the Imam did blame the beheading of the defeated Jewish tribe on the Jews themselves. It is part of the bizarre and enshrined victimhood in Islam, even among the Imam's ostensibly peaceful group banned by the Pakistani government, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
My notes on the afternoon are brief as the I put down pen and picked up camera. The video is shaky, so my recommendation is turn off the monitor and turn up the speakers. In summary, while the UK is moving to toughen its libel laws to address the libel tourism issue, the EU is an unsalvageable abomination that should be razed to the ground and not started over.
Missed David Harris.
Ok, as I'm trying to get the videos up, I realized they are too long and I need to cut them down, which isn't going to happen at midnight. I will get the vids up sometime by the end of the week. Alan Mendoza and Douglas Murray clips are definitely worth coming back for.