Saturday, September 29, 2012

First Amendment Affront

Wall Street Journal
September 28, 2012

In his address to the United Nations earlier this week, President Obama condemned "the crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world." Some 48 hours later, police in California arrested the man behind the film "Innocence of Muslims," and a federal judge on Thursday night ordered Nakoula Basseley Nakoula held in jail without bond.

Mr. Nakoula allegedly used the alias Sam Bacile to produce and post an amateurish clip of the film, which may not exist in full, on YouTube. The government has charged him with eight counts of violating parole. In 2010, he was convicted of bank fraud and served a year of a 21-month sentence. His use of the Internet is restricted.

We're not privy to the specific parole terms to be able to pass judgment on the technical merits of the government's case. A judge will sort it out. But the decision to pursue him in the first place was a discretionary call by the government.

We doubt that every Web surfer on similar probation gets hauled back to prison. Or gets denied bail by a judge who called Mr. Nakoula "a flight risk," though it's hard to imagine he'd want to return to his native Egypt, the scene of the first violent protests on September 11, or go anywhere else. A minister in the Pakistani government has put a $100,000 bounty on his head.