No word yet on what the violation was, but I assume it must be far more serious than using an alias or a computer. Given the insanity of the past two weeks, replete with the White House nudging Google to pull the video off of YouTube and the State Department running ads on Pakistani TV to apologize for a movie they had nothing to do with, I can’t quite believe the DOJ would risk the perception that they’re punishing this guy for a thoughtcrime unless something serious was involved. There has to be a real crime underlying this. Right?
The California man behind a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that has inflamed parts of the Middle East was arrested Thursday for violating terms of his probation, authorities said.
[The filmmaker] has been on probation for a 2010 federal check fraud conviction that brought a 21-month prison sentence. Under terms of his probation, he was not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer…
A U.S. District Court hearing was scheduled for [him] on Thursday afternoon. It was closed to media and the public.
Meanwhile, new from Fox News:
Two weeks after the killing of a U.S. ambassador in Libya — an attack the Obama administration blamed in part on an online video mocking the prophet Muhammad — a majority of likely voters thinks the first thing a president should do in such situations is stand up for free speech, and not criticize how Americans exercise their First Amendment rights.
A Fox News poll released Thursday finds 61 percent of voters think the president of the United States should “stand up for freedom of speech, even if it’s offensive,” while 22 percent say the president should “condemn offensive speech if it might provoke Islamic violence.”
Those 22 percent know something important that the 61 percent don’t, namely, that the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. And if we occasionally have to haul a guy in on a probation violation to ensure that the future doesn’t belong to him, hey. Exit quotation from our new kinda sorta ally in Egypt: “Egypt respects freedom of expression … [but] not a freedom of expression that targets a specific religion or a specific culture.”
Update: In order to prove that it’s evenhanded about blasphemy, Egypt’s gone ahead and arrested a Muslim cleric for burning a copy of the Bible. Note to The One: If you want to show the Middle East that American free-speech principles are not, in fact, an anti-Muslim plot and apply even to people who insult the faith of most Americans, this is a fine opportunity. Speak up in this guy’s favor.
Update: According to TMZ, the guy’s probation report is sealed. Question for criminal defense attorneys: Is there any way to force it to be unsealed, or is that at the discretion of one or both of the parties? There’s a public interest at this point, I think, in knowing why they’re sending him back to prison. Did he commit a serious crime that we don’t know about, or are they using a technicality to punish him for blasphemy?