The War on … Poetry?


I was flipping through the A.M. dial today when I happened upon The Michael Medved show. Medved is the right-wing’s self-appointed protectorate of Judeo-Christian morals and a courageous defender of religiosity. An urban legend holds that Medved was the inspiration for Ned Flanders on The Simpsons cartoon.

The show topic focused on Samina Malik, the “Lyrical Terrorist”, and her trial in England for “possessing records likely to be used for terrorism”. These records consisted of books focusing on the following: terrorism techniques, the use of firearms and heavy weapons, poisons, and hand to hand combat training. The most damning evidence, I am sure, was the book of poetry she kept. In it she expressed her desire to be a martyr, kill kafirs, and contained a detailed how-to method on the proper beheading technique. According to Ms. Malik, “it’s not as messy or as hard as some may think/ It’s all about the flow of the wrist.” Medved was adamant that the “Lyrical Terrorist” should be put away for a long time. His belief seemed to be predicated on the potential danger that Ms. Malik represented, evidenced by the materials found in her home.

Nasty business as anyone can surely see, but one warranting criminal penalty? I have written some fairly heinous things down on paper, including verse 2 of these rap song lyrics, which were found crumpled in the garbage can at my high school. Given that it was a Mormon-run school in Provo, Utah, frail sensitivities were sent into immediate shock prompting a psychological inquiry of the author.

Would any of these possessions, individually or collectively, have warranted a criminal prosecution in this country? I certainly hope not. It seems that the Brits takes an aggregate-effect approach to penalizing speech. I do not condone terrorism, nor do I wish to emasculate law enforcement when it comes to subduing credible threats to the citizenry. That being said, there is a delicate balance between the government’s duties of (1) protecting the individual right to free and uninhibited expression, and (2) the responsibility of shielding its people from domestic or foreign harm.

Certainly there are books on terrorism techniques in the possession of law enforcement, federal agency employees, as well as in the hands of the general public. Books on firearms and heavy weapons can be checked out of of any library in this country (like I did it when I was in elementary school). Books on poisons and hand-to-hand combat are also easy to come by as well – ever heard of the Anarchist Cookbook? If these works aren’t available in a hardback edition, the Google carries a cheaper edition that is more rapidly deployable to your physical locale (also, surprisingly protected by your antiquated First Amendment).

If the books listed above are examples of protected speech, what of the jihadist poetry, and the dangerous influence they may have on those predisposed to religious violence?

A belief may be pernicious — the beliefs of Nazis led to the death of millions, those of the Klan to the repression of millions. A pernicious belief may prevail. Totalitarian governments today rule much of the planet, practicing suppression of billions and spreading dogma that may enslave others. One of the things that separates our society from theirs is our absolute right to propagate opinions that the government finds wrong or even hateful.

American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut, 771 F.2d 323, 328 (7th. Cir. 1985). If thoughts were a crime, I would be doing 3,287 consecutive life terms, followed by a shock-inducing rusty razor castration, and topped with a lengthy Clorox-boarding session administered by none other than the Sith Lord Under Secretary of Civil Liberty Deprivation – Dick Cheney.

Vaguely defined restrictions on free expression, ostensibly designed to protect the citizens from the evil-doers , could pave the way for the suppression of constitutionally protected speech. The current threat, Islamic jihadism, is the functional equivalent of yesterday’s under the bed menace – Communism. For instance, a blog consisting of extreme political opinions, such as those advocating the overthrow of a tyrannical government (does anyone remember laughter?), may result in your Internet provider responding to a National Security Letter (with civil immunity), or its future equivalent. Erotic expression, and other views that may advance a marked deviation from the collectively-accepted viewpoint, could also face future assaults when the majority view is advanced by the long-arm of government power.

Which brings me to Mr. Medved’s willingness to punish those whose opinions and writings do not comport with his police-state world-view. I called his program to challenge him on this point, and surprisingly, I was put on the air within minutes. Unfortunately, the segment was about to break, but I managed to get in a few points. I argued that to punish this woman for having poetry, and some objectionable reading material, was tantamount to criminalizing thought. Unless she took affirmative steps to act on her beliefs, the state had no right to subject her to punishment for expressing her views on paper, or on the Internet.

I reasoned that under U.S. law, speech that advocates violence must rise to a level of imminent lawless action before it can be punishable (i.e., inciting a crowd of Paultard’s to bomb the Federal Reserve while conducting a speech on the front steps). Medved stressed that in her job, at Heathrow airport, she would have access to vulnerable points susceptible to attack (a convenient sidestep from the issue at hand). The host then rattled on with a continual, and well timed, rebuttal barrage, while I unsuccessfully attempted to interject. But of course, it is Medved’s domain, and he has engineered the battlefield to his advantage. Nonetheless, I was happy to put in my dos pesos, as it was the first time that I felt the need to express my views on a radio talk-show.

9 Responses to “The War on … Poetry?”

  1. December 12, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Johnnypeepers, this post really interested me as I’ve been having a discussion on my blog about the problems with Fundamental Islam. I think you make a good point when you said that there is a delicate balance between “the government’s duties of (1) protecting the individual right to free and uninhibited expression, and (2) the responsibility of shielding its people from domestic or foreign harm.”

    A few years ago, a Melbourne doctor endorsed his sons for raping women because in his Islamic culture, women who are out after dark are asking to be molested. His ideologies were directly reflected in his son’s actions. To that extent I would consider him an accessory to the crimes and a demonstrated threat to the community, which in my opinion should result in loosing his immigrant status. I don’t think that’s curtailing freedom of speech so much as proactively protecting the women in that area.

    However, it does seem that here in the West the unwritten mandate on political correctness (to appear Tolerant, or out of fear of the repercussions) tends to also result in considerable supression of freedom of speech.

    In Australia a few years ago, a couple of pastors were taken to court by members of the Islamic community simply for reading the Qu’ran in public (apparantly some of the crowd laughed in response to the readings). One of the pastors in question was required to make a formal apology or face jail. The proceedings were made possible under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act that took effect in Victoria in 2002.


    As Rebecca from Dhimmi Watch says, “I see, they are “protecting” freedom of speech by limiting freedom of speech…Thank heaven for the first amendment to the US Constitution! ” (http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/006750.php)

  2. December 12, 2007 at 8:26 pm


    Thank you for the insightful reply. I am no expert on the subjects you mentioned, but I will do my best to address them. I cannot speak for Australia, but in the U.S., criminal accessory liability would probably not apply to the parent in the doctor’s case. I am also assuming that the boys were minors. The exception would be a case where the parent intentionally aided in the crime, or covered it up after the fact.

    As far as civil liability is concerned, the standard generally is that a parent is under a duty to exercise reasonable care so to control his minor child as to prevent it from intentionally harming others. If the parent knows, or has reason to know , that he has the ability to control his child, that parent may be liable for statutory damages.

    In this country, non-citizens are entitled to Constitutional protections. There may be administrative hearings to comport with the rights of the individual involved. Also under the Due Process Clause, parents are given very wide latitude in determining how to raise their families. Inherent in that right is the freedom to indoctrinate their child as they see fit.

    I do not see how the state could curtail the father’s right to speech in that case. In the U.S., speech that gives rise to imminent lawless action may be punished by the government. How would you police a father’s interaction with his child?

    Political correction may exist in this country, but individuals or entities acting outside of the mantle of governmental authority cannot infringe your Constitutional right to free speech. The 1st Amendment protects only against government action. The fear of invoking PC condemnation may deter individuals from expressing themselves, but the government is not a party.

    The situation you speak of regarding the pastors is truly despicable. I will look at the article you supplied. Hopefully, abridgment of free speech in that manner will not happen in this country, but I fear it will ultimately prevail. I created this blog partly to stem the tide of political correctness and Newspeak propaganda that will obliterate our country from the inside out.

    Thank you again for your kind post and do check in often,

  3. December 16, 2007 at 4:35 am

    Thanks for expounding on the legalites of that situation…you make a good argument as to why deporting the doctor in question would be impossible on those grounds alone. (As far as I’m aware the sons were all adults)

    The real quandry is how to preserve the rights and freedoms we value so highly without enabling potentially dangerous individuals and allowing them to erode and undermine the reasonable rights, expectations and freedoms of the rest of the community… such as being able to walk out after dark without being molested!

    Honestly, I’m not sure that the legal system should protect immigrants who publicly espouse or act on ideologies that threaten the welfare of the community. Being able to reside in a foreign country is not a right, it’s a privilege – a priviege extended on the basis of merit and/ or compassionate circumstances.

    ps( Likewise…it’s nice to come across a blogger with an incisive mind! 🙂

  4. December 16, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Well, if the two sons were men, they should be imprisoned. The father, through his teachings and cultural views are deplorable, is not guilty of raping anyone. The sons violated the law of their host nation. They have the capacity to choose between right and wrong, and an obligation to respect the bodily autonomy of others.

    The crux of the matter, as I believe you see it, is the father’s inculcation of hate and religious-justified violence in the eyes of his son. In the U.S., thankfully, the state cannot punish the belief behind the crime. That would be tantamount to “thought-control” policing and would have a chilling-effect on the right to free speech.

    I have a right to instill racial hatred, in my children if I so choose. The father chose to instill his religious and cultural views in his sons. The crime was not his idealogy, but the son’s use of force on a woman without consent.

    The quandry you speak of is the inherent balancing-act that must be maintained in a free society. I err on the side of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the right to be free from pernicious state intervention in the minds of the people.

    Punishing the Doctor for teaching his sons misogynistic interpretations of the Koran would probably not deter future attacks. The instructions at home would still be given and those predisposed to attacking others using their justification would likely still do so. I do not wish to have my constitutional rights curtailed because others have used destructive beliefs to warrant unlawful action.

    “Honestly, I’m not sure that the legal system should protect immigrants who publicly espouse or act on ideologies that threaten the welfare of the community.”

    It is settled law that anyone in this country is entitled to constitutional protections. This is a good thing because it does not segment individuals based on their status and promotes equal treatment under the law, one of our celebrated American precepts. To discriminate on an individual, based on his religious beliefs, would bring about dangerous unintended consequences. There is a critical difference between espousing a belief and acting on that belief to the threat of the community.

    I agree with your last statement, it is a privilege to be granted residency and/or citizenship. As such, the U.S. should closely scrutinize those more closely before they are let in the country. If it is determined that individuals from a certain nation pose an unacceptable risk to the U.S. based on their beliefs, world-view, or predisposition to religious-motivated violence, they should be subject to more rigorous scrutiny on their visa applications. There is no right of entry, only a privilege.

    The duty to protect the existing citizens and residents is the government’s primary responsibility. That being said, once a foreigner is on U.S. soil, his rights (i.e. free speech) are indistinguishable from those around him. I understand your frustration with those using religion to justify violence, it is a real threat. But, I do not see this threat as a justification to curtail my rights.

  5. 5 Gutbuster Deluxe
    December 17, 2007 at 10:53 am

    I say you just put their asses in a tub, fill it with water, plug the cord of a toaster oven into the nearest electrical outlet, and then toss that bad boy in there. that’s the way to handle that shit. My cousin, Eric, instilled that philosophy in me.

    Johnnypeeper’s response:

    I suppose that is one way to do it. The problem is that most toaster oven cords are not long enough to reach the tub from the electrical outlet. I reckon you could connect an extension cord, but that is a discussion for another day.

    Your cousin sounds like an incredibly compassionate and loving individual. I would like to learn more about his philosophy some time. When you get a chance provide me a brief overview. I might want to upgrade my moral compass.

  6. 6 c
    December 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    i think the concept of political correctness has brought about very frightening changes with regard to speech. Responsibility and sensitivity cannot be legislated, yet as we proceed, there are these ridiculous attempts at it that only result in more violent outbursts.

    Everything is offensive anymore and what was once probably truly offensive is lost in the mire.

    i’m of the opinion that if something is offensive, don’t listen to it, don’t feed it.

    Johnnypeeper’s response:

    I could not agree more my friend. The Political Correctness of today is the functional equivalent of the “Newspeak” that Orwell wrote about in 1984. He described “Newspeak” as, “”the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.” This effect is very much alive today and operates as a form of mind-control. Eventually, the words or thoughts you cannot convey are whittled away from your consciousness. My job is to prevent this from happening.

  7. January 10, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    You know, I’ve been thinking about what you said in response to the scenario raised, and I must admit I agree with you. (Thanks for graciously explaining the legalities on that issue there in the US)

    What I’ve been grappling with for a while is how to preserve a freedom without letting it negate other people’s rights and freedoms, such as to live in a reasonable amount of peace and safety in your own community. (eg. Whilst the doctor in question can freely espouse a pro-rapist persepctive, the poor women in that Melbourne area are now probably reluctant to go out after dark.)

  8. January 13, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Tis the danger of living in a free society. Every action we take involves a certain amount of inherent risk. When you walk outside of your door you risk being run over by a truck, mugged, or having an airplane fall on your head.

    As the infamous communist Lenin once asked in a book, What is to be done? I argue nothing is to be done because I do not want the State enforcing the acceptable viewpoint for any matter of social relations (especially religion).

    The fact that a Muslim advocates the crime in question should not have a bearing on her decision to go out at night. She should fear the irreligious rapist and murderer as much, if not more, than the one using Islam as his justification to commit heinous acts.

    Thoughts, beliefs, and religious indoctrination are powerful motivators for much human behavior, but we should not seek to use the police power of the state to punish views that the government finds unacceptable. To do so would violate the fundamental right of free speech and freedom of conscience. Much like Canada’s hate speech laws which punish minority viewpoints, laws that seek to influence what a man teaches his family about his religion is an affront to liberty and free peoples.

  9. January 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    gazifk iqyh uqjwdgft fjknpraz vwgbtoqnp tqldrg mekrd

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Johnny Peepers

----> is a socio-pathetic degenerate with a penchant for cheap booze, ruphy-laden broads, and dim sum soup.


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