Monday, September 17, 2012

Priorities, priorities

He further considered whether the prosecution of the defendant in furtherance of the protection of the rights of others was “necessary in a democratic society”, and proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. It had been convincingly shown that the conviction of Connolly was necessary in a democratic society. 
The defendant’s right to express her views about abortion did not justify the distress and anxiety that she intended to cause those who received the photographs. Of particular significance was the fact that those who worked in the three pharmacies were not targeted because they were in a position to influence a public debate on abortion. 
-- Connolly v. Director of Public Prosecutions [2007]  EWHC 237 (Admin)

On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. Apparently not everyone in England showed the proper level of commiseration.

Azhar Ahmed posted his thoughts on his Facebook page. More than a few folks were a bit upset when he wrote that "all soldiers should die and go to hell" two days after the attack.

In the face of criticism, Mr. Ahmed apologized for his comment and thought the matter was over with. Boy, was he wrong. For you see, over there across the pond, it's illegal to send a "grossly offensive" message whatever the hell that is.

Mr. Ahmed told the court he realized the message he posted was unacceptable but he denied that it was grossly offensive. The judge told him that his comments were both derogatory and inflammatory. The court then convicted Mr. Ahmed of the offense of causing someone to get their panties in a wad.

So fucking what if someone thought his comment was insensitive and inflammatory? I happen to find war to be grossly offensive. The use of unmanned drones to drop bombs out of the sky on unsuspecting civilians is inflammatory. The use of weaponry to kill those with whom one disagrees is inflammatory. Holding suspected enemy combatants incommunicado indefinitely and torturing them is highly inflammatory.

But will anyone ever be held responsible for the war crimes committed in our name in Afghanistan? I'm sure that George W. Bush and Barack Obama will live out the rest of their days without fear of being arrested and hauled before the international criminal court. But Mr. Ahmed, on the other hand, will live out the rest of his days with a criminal record because he spoke his mind.

He didn't kill anyone. He didn't drop a bomb indiscriminately. He didn't torture anyone. But he's the one in the dock.

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