Obama Administration Abandons Freedom Of Speech In Wake Of Embassy Riots

Capitulating to a mob is never a good idea.

Google announced late yesterday that it would be leaving the clips of “Innocence Of Muslims,” the anti-Muslim film that has set off violence across the Muslim world, available on YouTube despite requests from the Obama Administration:

Google will leave a controversial video clip about the Islamic prophet Muhammad on YouTube despite a White House request that the company review it under its own policies, the company said Friday.

The White House confirmed Friday that it asked Google to review whether the clip violated its policies and should be taken down. Google decided that the video does not violate its policies.

“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere.  This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”

“However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries,” the spokeswoman said.

(…)

“The White House asked YouTube to review the video to see if it was in compliance with their terms of use,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told POLITICO in an email. The White House said it reached out to YouTube on Tuesday.

There is something rather disturbing about the White House trying to lean on a private company to consider banning something that is quite clearly protected by the First Amendment from its site. Obviously, the First Amendment does not apply to YouTube itself. They are free to set their own Terms Of Service and to ban videos that violate those terms, nobody questions that. However, when you start talking about government officials contacting a private company and saying, in effect, “Gee, that’s a nice little website you have there, it’d be a shame if something happened to it,” I contend that we’re at least close to crossing a line into something highly inappropriate, if not illegal.

On some level, I can understand the concerns of the Obama Administration regarding this movie. After all, it has set off protests across the Muslim world that, so far, have resulted in the breaching of a consulate in Libya, an embassy in Tunisia, and the deaths of four Americans including an Ambassador. Given the reaction we’ve seen from these Muslim mob protests in the past in places like Afghanistan, it’s easy to see  why military and political officials would be concerned about native reaction to controversial statements made by some random American citizen that just happens to go viral on the Internet and ends up setting off protests that put American citizens and military personnel in danger. That’s why, on some level, I understand the statements that General Petraeus made about the Florida Koran burning incident last year, even though I don’t think they were appropriate.

At the same time, though, there comes a time when American political leaders have to stand up for the protection of individual liberties, most especially Freedom Of Religion and Freedom Of Speech, that are such an important part of our system. Offensive or not, the film Innocence Of Muslims is defended by the First Amendment as much as The Last Temptation Of Christ is, as much as Birth Of A Nation is, and as much as Andres Sorrano’s Piss Christ is. The fact that a bunch of rabble rousers half a world away have decided to use it as the excuse for violent riots against the United States and other western nations is irrelevant. Indeed, yesterday protesters in Sudan broke into the German embassy despite the fact that the Germans had as little to do with this movie as Ambassador Christopher Stevens did. As I’ve said before, these protests have little to do with the film, the film is just a pretext. We win absolutely nothing if our government caves in to the mobs in the streets and either condemns or bans this film, they are going to hate us anyway for reasons that have nothing to do with a movie that nobody has ever heard of and a guy in Los Angeles with several Federal fraud convictions.

Instead of apologizing for a film that the United States, as a nation, is not responsible for, and weaving and dodging when it comes to Freedom Of Speech, one of our most important and fundamental values, the President needs to be a more forthright proponent of American liberty. The rest of the world may find it controversial, but our history of protecting the right of people to speak their minds is one of the things that makes us unique in the world and it is a tragedy that our leaders feel it necessary to sweep those values under the rug for the sake of global political correctness.

FILED UNDER: Islam, National Security, Religion
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. No, the administration did not violate any law, nor did it apologize.

    Asking Google to review the video according to its terms of use was using something in place. You’re going all wingnuttery on us if you think the next step is drone attacks on Mountain View.

  2. LS says:

    If they abandoned freedom of speech why is the video still up?

  3. T-Steel says:

    Ah the joys of the Internet. Once upon a time a movie could get made by some nobody and it would go absolutely nowhere. Now, a nobody can become a somebody instantly via YouTube.

    These days, there is no payoff in pursuing a person that makes a film. If there are actual actors and actresses in a film and it isn’t some filming of live criminal behavior, the Feds might as well just walk on by. This will not be the last time that something created in America is used as an excuse or vehicle to harm America and American assets abroad by the wackaroons out there. In fact, it would probably be best for every US President to say this to the Middle East:

    We make movies over here. You may not like them but they will keep getting made. Take a chill pill or not. We won’t stop movies from being made. Have a Coke and smile!

  4. @john personna:

    I have not said that the Administration violated the law. I do, however, think that they acted inappropriately in essentially pressuring Google to reconsider its decision to keep the clips available on YouTube. And, as I said, I would prefer to have a President who defended freedom of speech even in the most offensive context, rather than being meek about it.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I’m of two minds on this issue of different cultures, different limits, and open to persuasion. My books get translated. I’ve had push-back on some elements from some countries — usually regarding violence. Generally I’ve taken the “whatever” attitude and let publishers in different countries make small changes.

    On the other hand, I was asked to take out all references to religion and to make a lesbian character straight. I pushed back on both. This was not in a Muslim country, by the way, it was Germany. An Australian site didn’t want me to use the word “pregnant” in a series of guest posts so I blew them off.

    I’ve been very inconsistent. Not being a nation state I don’t so much formulate policy on this as react on a gut level. None of it is censorship per se, but in both cases it was clearly a pre-emptive response by publishers to government policies.

    I’m very uncomfortable with the US government prodding Google this way. On the other hand, lives are at stake. So, like I say: of two minds.

  6. Jc says:

    There are so many ignorant videos on YouTube, but where else is an idiot to spread their crazy ideas? Alex Jones would have one friend if it were not for the innernets. Taking down one vid isn’t going to cure the massive brainwashed Islamic youth. Only future generations will be able to do that and it will take many, many years. Can’t tell your neighbor to quit being an ignorant jagoff when that neighbor fills up the gas in all of your machines. You just cross your fingers and hope the next guy that moves in is different. I can understand Obama asking YouTube to please turn down the music, but he knows it’s a free country. It’s not like he is passing a law to make it legal to spy on you without good reason.

  7. Ryan says:

    “The White House confirmed Friday that it ASKED Google to review…”
    President Obama makes a polite request in hopes of maybe avoiding more violence, and suddenly the first amendment is “abandoned”? What a joke.

  8. @Ryan:

    It is not the business of the President to be “asking” a private company to restrict access to material that is clearly subject to Constitutional protection

  9. @michael reynolds:

    I don’t dismiss the concerns about inflammatory material, and I think the film itself is garbage (I watched about 2 minutes of the 14 minute “preview” before closing my browser), but I’m with you about the uneasiness about the government putting its thumb on the scale here.

  10. Andy says:

    How ironic that Google caved to the Chinese a few years ago….

  11. Chris Berez says:

    I’d like to point out that Obama also “asked” Ford to stop airing ads wherein Ford was touting the fact that it refused bailout money. Ford buckled. I’m glad Google said no.

    I can’t believe people here this it’s perfectly acceptable for the highest office in the land to put pressure on private companies regarding their first amendment rights. If this was still Bush in office instead of Obama, would you guys still be defending it and rolling your eyes at the suggestion of coercion?

    You can say all you want that Obama didn’t do anything illegal. But by doing so, you’re either missing the point and seeking to dodge the question.

  12. Ryan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: How is it not the business of the President of the United States to ask a company to do something he thinks is in the best interest of the United States?
    Again, let’s be clear that he ASKED, and when they said no, that was the end of it. He didn’t force them to do anything or shut them down or arrest them. The only problem with this story is the agenda of the people behind the story.

  13. @Ryan:

    Your failure to recognize the inherent intimidation in such a “request” is sad.

  14. Rick Almeida says:

    Instead of apologizing for a film that the United States, as a nation, is not responsible for…

    Decided to go all in on the hackery, did you?

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I doubt that Google is going to be intimidated by a U.S. President. Now China – that’s another story.

  16. @Rick Almeida:

    So you think all Americans are responsible for that movie?

  17. Spartacus says:

    Doug wrote: “when you start talking about government officials contacting a private company and saying, in effect, “Gee, that’s a nice little website you have there, it’d be a shame if something happened to it,” I contend that we’re at least close to crossing a line into something highly inappropriate, if not illegal.”

    and “Instead of apologizing for a film that the United States, as a nation, is not responsible for . . ”

    Didn’t you just write a post condemning anti-intellectualism? It’s impossible to promote intellectualism without promoting honesty, but here you are falsely asserting that the White House said something that it clearly did not say. If your argument is so weak that you have to create falsehoods in order to sustain it, you should develop a different argument.

    The White House neither suggested something would happen to Google nor did the President “apologize” for a film. Now, you either know what you wrote is a lie or you lack the intellectual capacity to discern the difference between the falsehoods you wrote and what the White House actually did. Either way, you suck.

  18. john personna says:

    @Andy:

    Google blocked access to this video in India, where it is illegal, and in Egypt and Afghanistan where leaders asked them to.

    Ultimately a middle line was taken all around. Even critics take a middle line. They complain that the the US should not have asked for review. They don’t demand that Afghan access be restored, etc.

  19. CSK says:

    So by this logic, President Obama ought to ask Sony not to release the Katherine Bigelow movie about the assassination of Bin Laden. If a thirteen-minute trailer of an asinine home movie causes this kind of violence, what happens when a a big-budget movie about the murder of an Islamic martyr goes into wide release? Won’t it cause a worldwide explosion of unparalleled violence?

    I’m a writer. I’m a First Amendment absolutist.

  20. @john personna:

    As much as I deplore nations that restrict freedom of speech for any reason, I am not going to judge a business for choosing to comply with the laws of the nations they do business in.

  21. PJ says:

    @Andy:

    How ironic that Google caved to the Chinese a few years ago….

    Google know that those who rule China actually have the power to throw them out, so they cave.
    Google also know that the President doesn’t have that power, so they don’t cave.

    Which makes the idea of “inherent intimidation” laughable.

  22. Spartacus says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “It is not the business of the President to be “asking” a private company to restrict access to material that is clearly subject to Constitutional protection.”

    I’m not really sure how we determine what the President’s business is, but the government routinely asks private entities to restrict access to material or to refrain from doing something that is constitutionally protected. This is neither new nor alarming.

    The government routinely asks newspapers not to publish information the government has classified. Every single day the government asks people to exercise and quit smoking. The government has asked the movie industry not to let children see certain types of movies. The historical examples are plenty and the list goes on and on so I’m not sure why you claim the Administration has “abandon[ed]” free speech.

    Of all the constitutionally protected activities that the government has asked private entities to refrain from doing, this seems to be one of the least infringing acts.

  23. Rick Almeida says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So you think all Americans are responsible for that movie?

    I do not think the President apologized for the film. Do you?

    I no longer think you are an honest man, arguing in good faith.

  24. Ryan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Your failure to recognize how complicated and serious this situation is is sad. This isn’t a typical first amendment issue. Americans have been killed because of this movie, and President Obama trying to keep more Americans from dying is the problem?

  25. Spartacus says:

    @Chris Berez:

    “If this was still Bush in office instead of Obama, would you guys still be defending it and rolling your eyes at the suggestion of coercion?”

    If I recall correctly, I believe the Bush Administration asked Time Magazine not to publish the pictures taken at Abu Grahib prison. I don’t remember anyone getting upset at the request. Of course, given all of the atrocities of the Bush Administration, there were lots of other things that people were worried about.

  26. Jc says:

    @john personna:
    So Egypt and Afghanistan just asked and Google/YouTube just did their bidding. That’s like apologizing to them. Mitt better start ripping into YouTube.

    Doug, I understand where you are coming from, but considering all that’s gone down are you really surprised by the administration making this request? You are making it sound like this is just the start of something or a sign for the future, when it’s really just an anomaly.

  27. Vast Variety says:

    @Doug Mataconis: How is it acting inappropriately? Anyone can do it simply by using the flagging tools that exist on every YouTube video.

  28. @Vast Variety:

    Take into account the power of the Justice Department to institute Antitrust investigations, the power of the SEC to institute securities law investigations, and the IRS, and then you’ll understand.

    The United States Government is far more than just some individual user clicking “Dislike” or “Report” on YouTube.

  29. @Jc:

    I don’t know about Egypt, but in Afghanistan, blocking YouTube was the work of the government.

  30. @Ryan:

    The fact that you consider it acceptable to surrender to the mob is pathetic.

  31. Chris Berez says:

    Americans have been killed because of this movie, and President Obama trying to keep more Americans from dying is the problem?

    If these are his methods, than yes it is a problem. The first amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech is non-negotiable. Even if Google took the video down off YouTube and we sent announcements out all over the Muslim world regarding this fact, do you think these mobs would turn around and go home? Do you think this would really lead to a reduction in future violence. We are not dealing with reasonable, rational people here; we’re dealing with thugs and zealots.

  32. Spartacus says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    “I no longer think you are an honest man, arguing in good faith.”

    You’re assuming Doug was capable of recognizing the point you first made about the apology. He is a wingnut, which means he lacks (1) clear thinking, (2) good intentions, or (3) both. To be safe, I usually just say the following:

    “Now, you either know what you wrote is a lie or you lack the intellectual capacity to discern the difference between the falsehoods you wrote and what the White House actually did. Either way, you suck.”

  33. Vast Variety says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So your suggesting that the White House actually made some sort of threat? Or are you just assuming that the weight of the Federal Government is greater than that of an individual when it comes to pushing a “Flag as Inappropriate” button on a web web page?

  34. Chris Berez says:

    @Spartacus:
    Yes, I remember that too. At this point I honestly don’t remember specific responses that I was reading at the time. I know that I honestly was upset by it and felt that it was an attempt to keep Americans’ support for the war up by reducing instances of them being faced with the harsh realities. I didn’t mean to suggest Bush wasn’t guilty of the exact same crap. It’s all complete madness to me.

  35. Vast Variety says:

    Its odd then that you seem to think that the weight of a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is equal to an individual when it comes to free speech in electoral politics.

  36. Spartacus says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “Take into account the power of the Justice Department to institute Antitrust investigations, the power of the SEC to institute securities law investigations, and the IRS, and then you’ll understand.”

    This ignores the long history of the government asking news outlets to withhold publication of information the government didn’t want to be made public. These kinds of requests happen ALL THE TIME and I doubt you can point to a single example of the government abusing its investigative power after one of its requests has been denied.

  37. Ryan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I never said that I think it’s acceptable to surrender to a mob. You and your insinuations are pathetic, and you have no business writing “news”.

  38. Spartacus says:

    @Vast Variety:

    “Its odd then that you seem to think that the weight of a multibillion dollar multinational corporation is equal to an individual when it comes to free speech in electoral politics.”

    Having just busted me in another blatant example of hypocrisy, I’m going to leave this thread now and pretend I didn’t read your comment.

    — Doug

  39. @Spartacus:

    Except this was not a request to not disclose information that as not yet pubic. This was a request to delete something that had been posted back in July and which was obviously already widely disseminated via other channels.

    Your analogy is inappliicable

  40. Jc says:

    @Chris Berez:
    True, but another odd thing about all of this is there are tons of anti Islam, blasphemous websites and videos all over the Internet. You would think there would be more outrages if Muslims in these countries actually had Internet access, it’s weird.

  41. @Spartacus:

    And your actual respect from Freedom Of Speech is revealed for what it is, sadly

  42. john personna says:

    @Chris Berez:

    Google actually has a criteria called “hate speech” in place. It isn’t outlandish that the trailer fell within that rule.

    Free speech does not mean YouTube must host anything.

  43. Vast Variety says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Sorry Doug, I’m not really trying to be a jerk about this, but I do think your overreacting.

  44. KariQ says:

    I’m ambivalent about this situation, and I certainly sympathize with the argument that the president shouldn’t be asking a business to remove content like this. But intimidation? What consequences do you think Google fears for not accommodating the request? What is the implied threat that makes this intimidation? Do you really think that the administration – any administration – could use those powers in response to a company that didn’t do what it wanted without paying an outsized cost in public outrage for it? I think this is just a tad bit over the line.

  45. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, are you going to campaign for YouTube to remove the hate speech criteria from their terms of use?

  46. Spartacus says:

    @Chris Berez:

    I also felt at that time that Bush did that in order to keep up support of the war, but I didn’t blame him for using the tools that were legally available to him. To me, it was kind of like when he timed the Iraq war vote to coincide with the upcoming Congressional election. Sure, it was calculated to put political pressure on Democrats (sadly, it worked), but I ultimately hold voters and Congressional Democrats responsible for buckling under the pressure.

    Both with the Abu Grahib pictures and now with this film, the government asked publications to withhold information and those publications refused. Despite Doug’s comments, there wasn’t any governmental backlash against Time Magazine and there won’t be any backlash against Google.

    This just isn’t a big deal. It happens all the time. Sometimes publications agree to the request and much of the time they don’t. Since Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, the media have had a well-settled constitutional right to publish classified information, not to mention information that’s not classified but merely inflammatory. If anything, the government would probably have a better chance preventing the showing of the film on obscenity grounds!

  47. steve says:

    Doug- Then is there any situation where the president can ask anyone to do anything? Why is a request necessarily seen as pressuring? Were their threats made or promises of recompense? Does one have to do whatever a president asks? They asked, Google said no. They asked if Google was following its own policies BTW, not to stop the video.

    Steve

  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    when you start talking about government officials contacting a private company and saying, in effect, “Gee, that’s a nice little website you have there, it’d be a shame if something happened to it”

    I wonder if you remember this:

    The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting.

    I can’t remember what you said about this. Maybe you weren’t here yet.

    Except this was not a request to not disclose information that as not yet pubic. This was a request to delete something that had been posted back in July and which was obviously already widely disseminated via other channels.

    How does that help? I think it makes it worse.

  49. Andy says:

    @john personna: I’m not really concerned about what other countries do. I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy and if other nations think it’s in their best interest to censor this or that, it’s not really my business even if I’m against censorship generally.

    When it comes to the US, I’m a free-speech purist. Although I’m not as outraged as Doug, I basically agree that it is inappropriate for the US government to make such requests.

  50. Spartacus says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    In both cases, the government has asked a private entity to refrain from exercising the first amendment right of free speech. The only distinction you’re drawing is that in one example the information had already been made public and in another example the information had yet to become public.

    You’re more than welcome to try to explain why that distinction makes a difference in the analysis and would lead to a different conclusion, but I don’t think you can.

  51. Chris Berez says:

    @john personna:

    Google actually has a criteria called “hate speech” in place. It isn’t outlandish that the trailer fell within that rule.

    Free speech does not mean YouTube must host anything.

    No, it doesn’t. But the issue here is that Google was plenty aware of the video and perfectly capable of acting on their own without a call from the Oval Office “asking” them to review the video. It’s the call that’s at issue. The call was clearly meant to nudge Google into taking the video down and that’s where free speech concerns come into play. If Google had taken down the video on their own, then the issue to discuss would be whether or not the decision they made was the correct one. Their right to do is not and (I hope) would not be at question.

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    the President needs to be a more forthright proponent of American liberty … our history of protecting the right of people to speak their minds is one of the things that makes us unique in the world and it is a tragedy that our leaders feel it necessary to sweep those values under the rug

    Reminds me of another blast from the past:

    On Wednesday, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, denounced Mr. Maher, saying of news organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these ”people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.”

  53. Andy says:

    @john personna:

    Free speech does not mean YouTube must host anything.

    Of course not, but that isn’t the issue. Google can host or not host what it wants.

    I’m curious where people who think there is nothing to see here would draw a red line. When is it acceptable for the government to ask a private entity to take something out of the public domain and when is it not acceptable?

    Again, I’m not outraged because I think this is an isolated incident. However, I want to kick the camel before it’s nose is under the tent. I don’t want it to become accepted practice for the government to ask private entities to take something out of the public domain. This follows on the heals of a few incidents by the Bush administration of attempting to re-classified material that was public domain.

  54. @jukeboxgrad:

    Bill Maher is a bad comedian with a talk show.

    Barack Obama is the President Of The United States.

    There is, I am sure you recognize, a difference.

  55. We are down to a very slender argument.

    – We know Google is restricting access to the video overseas, and that’s fine.
    – We know Google has a “hate speech” term of use.
    – We know that people are rioting over the video.
    – We know that any of us could ask Google to review that video for terms of use.

    The slender disagreement is that the government shouldn’t ask Google if it’s really sure that a video inspiring world-wide protest isn’t “hate speech” or similar, after all.

    Why? Because “free speech absolutists” think that things which are not actually free speech (private contracts and distribution) get to free ride as part of their “absolute” view of free speech.

    I think the slippery slope is on the other foot.

  56. (This is really like one of those negative space images. When you make your whole argument that “the government shouldn’t ask” look at how much you’ve yielded in the flipped view. You are saying Google has every right to take down this image, for terms of use. It’s just talking about it that’s bad.)

  57. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    Bill Maher is a bad comedian with a talk show.

    Barack Obama is the President Of The United States.

    There is, I am sure you recognize, a difference.

    This response is completely incoherent, because the person who said “people have to watch what they say and watch what they do” wasn’t Bill Maher. It was Ari Fleischer. Maher was the target of that remark, not the source of it.

  58. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Bill Maher is a bad comedian with a talk show.

    Barack Obama is the President Of The United States.

    There is, I am sure you recognize, a difference.

    What’s the difference? Bill Maher didn’t tell anyone anything.

    On Wednesday, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, denounced Mr. Maher, saying of news organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these ”people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.”

    George Bush’s press secretary told the press that people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.

  59. Andy says:

    @john personna: Yes, there’s a difference when it comes to government. I’m not sure why that is hard to understand.

    This is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor incident, but it isn’t meaningless. I would not want to see the practice become commonplace because I think it would create a chilling effect.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug? Apparently a rather large number of people are not as big a pussy as you are. We recognize that we can still speak out against our govt’.

    ps…. what? black helicopters flying over your house since ’10?

    pss: this is ridiculous.

  61. @Andy:

    It’s hard to understand because the only thing anyone has shown is that the government “asked.”

    The government asks lots of things. Cops can say “may I look in your car” and you may say “no.”

  62. jukeboxgrad says:

    George Bush’s press secretary told the press that people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.

    IOKIYAR.

  63. @Andy:

    Basically if you want to make the case for coercion, find some.

  64. Aidan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Ah yes, I forgot about the constitutional amendment guaranteeing a right to have your personal material hosted on the servers of a private company. That’s the most important one!

    If this situation involved intimidation and coercion and stomping on the First Amendment we would have seen the film taken down. If this situation involved asking YouTube to review the video to see if it was in compliance with their terms of use…we would probably see YouTube review the film, conclude that it is compliant with their terms of use, and keep it up on their website. Maybe we could try to figure this out through some sort of controlled experiment?

  65. Andy says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Suppose instead that Ari Fleischer asked that HBO review it’s policies to see if Bill Maher should be taken off the air. Are we to believe that request would be acceptable?

  66. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Dude. I am the one speaking out against our government’s attempt to intimidate YouTube into pulling down a video.

  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    andy:

    Suppose instead that Ari Fleischer asked that HBO review it’s policies to see if Bill Maher should be taken off the air. Are we to believe that request would be acceptable?

    If Maher had been saying things that resulted in riots and deaths? Yes, that would be acceptable. Just my opinion. But it’s important to notice that he was doing nothing like that. He was just saying things that Bush didn’t like.

  68. Aidan says:

    Is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula signed to a contract with YouTube to continue distributing materials? Did HBO have terms of service guidelines to determine whether materials on their channel should be removed? Can private citizens flag HBO content to request that they take it off the air?

  69. @Andy:

    Maybe my reaction is that, were I Google or HBO, I wouldn’t be scared at all. I’d call the lawyers and have them write an answer. It would probably be one of my least worries for the week.

    It’s not like they were asking me to secretly turn over subscriber information in response to some war on terror BS. There’s something more serious, but just not the faux controversy of the day.

  70. Aidan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Can you please find a quote from a YouTube representative stating that the government’s request was intimidating and coercive?

  71. jukeboxgrad says:

    Here’s what a GOP Senator once said in response to an American expressing himself (link):

    He is a jerk. And he is taunting the American people … He was seeking to create indignation. … Do not dishonor our Lord. I resent it … If we have sunk so low in this country as to tolerate and condone this sort of thing, then we become a part of it. … He deserved to be rebuked and ignored … Anybody who would do such a despicable thing …

    Yes, this Senator was complaining that Andres Serrano received NEA money, but that’s not all he was saying. He was also condemning Serrano as “a jerk” because he decided to “dishonor our Lord,” and this is something we should not “tolerate.”

    doug:

    American political leaders have to stand up for the protection of individual liberties, most especially Freedom Of Religion and Freedom Of Speech

    So was this ‘American political leader’ doing that, or doing the opposite of that?

  72. anjin-san says:

    Doug – If I say something that you think is beyond the pale and you remove my post, are you quashing my right to free speech? Of course not. I am pretty sure no on has the “right” to have a video hosted on YouTube.

  73. Andy says:

    @john personna: As I said, taken in isolation, I don’t think this is a huge deal. I just don’t want it to become common.

    And yes, when authorities ask for something, there can be coercion just by asking. A lot of people accept the request of cops for that reason. Whether there is coercion or not really depends on context.

    Again, I worry there could be coercion should this practice become common. I don’t think there’s coercion in this case. In fact, by asking I think the administration guaranteed that Google would not take the video off the air because if they did, it would be seen as Google caving to administration pressure. People would then claim that Google was coerced into changing its mind. Perceptions matter.

    So I’m not sure what the administration hoped to accomplish here. The correct move, IMO, would be to simply condemn the video.

  74. Spartacus says:

    @Andy:

    ” I just don’t want it to become common.”

    It’s already common. Several posters have already provided examples of this happening in the past. Many media outlets have refused the government’s request and they have not suffered any retribution. Nor is there any “slippery slope” type of risk in the government’s request.

  75. Christopher says:

    The Muslim leaders in these countries need to have a serious talk with their people and maybe advise them to “get a life” or something like that. Maybe they need to come over here and take a lesson from the Christian people about how to react when something happens that does not conform to a person’s faith or is very disgusting, such as a movie, book, or some act. Christian people do not take to the streets killing people and blowing things up. The Muslim leaders need to lead on this issue , not head out the doors or stand around and watch. While some have condemned this violence, it has been few. We also do not attack their embassies in this country. While some misguided individual’s behavior toward Muslims in this country (and other groups) has been bad, overall there has been a lot of movement toward more dialogue and interfaith meetings. You always have a few nuts, but I haven’t seen fires, riots, shootings, or bombing like is going on everywhere else. Can Christian groups set up a prayer tent in their country? Muslims can here.

  76. Jeremy R. says:

    @Chris Berez:

    … without a call from the Oval Office “asking” them to review the video.

    NSC staffer.

  77. george says:

    I can understand why Obama asked Google to review their policies, but I don’t like him doing so. And I suspect it was a mistake, politically. I expect the GOP to now shift the attention away from Romney’s insane comments on the riots to Obama’s appeal to Google.

  78. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As much as I deplore nations that restrict freedom of speech for any reason, I am not going to judge a business for choosing to comply with the laws of the nations they do business in.

    Doug…. do you ever actually listen to yourself??????????????????????????? Censorship by China…. Well that business chose to be there.

    POUSA….. CENSORSHIP!!!!! NOT OK!!!!!
    Ok…. Now I call complete and nonequivalent B*llsh*t on your ass.

    Let me get this straight: It is ok for China to censor us….. but not OK for the USA to censor us????????????????????????????????????????

    Doug…. put down the shovel… the hole only gets deeper.

  79. @george:

    This is still tops at memeorandum:

    Rick Santorum: Conservatives Will “Never Have The Elite, Smart People On Our Side

    Not that I think Doug “pushed it down the page” here, or anything.

  80. Andy says:

    @Spartacus:

    It’s already common.

    It’s common for the President of the United States to ask a private entity to reconsider whether content produced by a private citizen should be published by said entity? I don’t think that is common at all, but if there are a ton of examples out there, I’d love to see them.

    I don’t think your earlier examples are comparable. Government has a legitimate interest in protecting and controlling the information it produces and it’s normal for the government to request that news organizations not publish government (usually classified) information. That is quite a bit different from this case.

    There is also a difference, as Doug noted, between a request not to publish and a request to withdraw something that is already out there. As I noted before, the federal government has tried in a few cases to reclassify information it had previously declassified. That is a lot more troubling than attempts to prevent the publication of classified information in the first place. Maybe they exist, but I don’t know of a single instance where the government asked a news organization to essentially unpublish something it had already published. That does not seem, to me anyway, to be at all a “common” occurrence.

  81. Clanton says:

    For a thoughtful article about Obama’s foreign policy alternatives, read this:
    http://news.yahoo.com/obamas-dangerous-weakness-070000072.html

  82. @Andy:

    Very Monty Python and the Holy Grail, that the government can’t ask anything, without illustrating “the violence inherent in the system!”

  83. jukeboxgrad says:

    andy:

    I don’t think your earlier examples are comparable. Government has a legitimate interest in protecting and controlling the information it produces and it’s normal for the government to request that news organizations not publish government (usually classified) information.

    How does this apply to what Ari Fleischer said?

    And if the government is doing illegal wiretapping, should the press not report this because the government told them not to?

  84. Lynda says:

    @Christopher:
    With respect Christopher, can I suggest that your prayer tent be set up in Northern Ireland? The recent riots there were initially triggered when a Protestant band marched past a Catholic church playing music.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/05/uk-irish-rioting-talks-idUKBRE8841G620120905

  85. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Bill Maher is a bad comedian with a talk show.
    Barack Obama is the President Of The United States.
    There is, I am sure you recognize, a difference.

    Minor correction, Bill Maher is a bad good comedian with a talk show.

  86. grumpy realist says:

    I wonder if the free speech absolutists would be so eager to keep the damn video up if one of their relatives was presently stationed in a US embassy in a Muslim country. It’s easy to be a absolutist if you’re not the one who’s going to die.

    Look, the world is a dangerous place. Sometimes you don’t want to keep poking the tiger.

  87. JKB says:

    Doug,

    Nobody was fired or demoted so the CEO who asked her to consider stopping by his room at the sales convention didn’t do anything wrong.

  88. jukeboxgrad says:

    Explain how that doesn’t apply to what Fleischer said.

  89. An Interested Party says:

    Take into account the power of the Justice Department to institute Antitrust investigations, the power of the SEC to institute securities law investigations, and the IRS, and then you’ll understand.

    Ahh, the “logic” of a libertarian…just because the government has certain powers and certain organizations, we must automatically assume its representatives will always act like jack-booted thugs…

    The Muslim leaders in these countries need to have a serious talk with their people and maybe advise them to “get a life” or something like that.

    Certainly not to apologize for any of the violence that has taken place, but perhaps if the people in these countries had the same freedoms that we do here in this country, things like this might not happen…

    We also do not attack their embassies in this country.

    On the contrary, we invade or prop up dictators in some of their countries…

    I expect the GOP to now shift the attention away from Romney’s insane comments on the riots to Obama’s appeal to Google.

    Considering their own actions during while Bush was president, for them to do so would be blatant hypocrisy…of course, considering what they have had to say recently about deficits and spending, they are the masters of blatant hypocrisy…

    For a thoughtful article about Obama’s foreign policy alternatives, read this…

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! “Thoughtful” and “Mona Charen” are not words that fit well together, unless you are talking about antonyms…

  90. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist: if one of their relatives was presently stationed in a US embassy in a Muslim country

    You mean those people who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic?

    They might have concerns that the Obama administration and Sec. Clinton have refused to beef up security and ignore actionable intelligence about planned attacks. But if they can’t serve without undermining the Constitution and the Rights of the American People, then they need to write their resignation letters as they no longer seem willing to meet their oath like those that served before them did.

  91. jukeboxgrad says:

    Still waiting for you to explain Fleischer.

  92. Aidan says:

    @JKB: Please explain how asking Google to review its terms of services and make its own decision about whether the content complies with it has any relevance to any aspect of the Constitution or the rights of the American people.

  93. DRS says:

    I really think you’re over-lawyering, Doug. I’m betting that Obama is trying to take the ostensible cause of the various mobs’ rioting out from under them so he can address the non-mob Muslims like this: “See, we understand you’re upset; the videos are gone now. The mob in your city has no reason to keep rioting. If they continue to do so, you know they’re liars and it is NOT your religious duty to support them.” Going all 1st-Amendment absolutist right now strikes me as exactly the wrong thing to do.

    Look, I’m sorry the world is a complicated place but the reality is that many people living in Arab Spring countries do not have a long or deep experience or even understanding of what we mean by personal freedom. It is not Obama’s job to give an introductory seminar on freedom of speech. He’s trying to turn the temperature down so the pot doesn’t boil over. It seems to me that’s a good sound statesmanlike thing to do.

  94. Andy says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    A government official saying someone is a bad person is not remotely the same thing as a government official suggesting that a person’s speech should be removed from youtube or any other venue.

    Here’s another example. It’s perfectly ok for a government official to say that Rush Limbaugh is a bad person, an idiot, or whatever. It is not ok for that government official to suggest that the FCC or broadcasters should reconsider their policies about keeping Rush Limbaugh on the air. That is the difference between what Ari Fleischer said and this request by the administration. If the administration had “denounced the video, saying of news organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these ”people have to watch what they say and watch what they do” then I would have no problem with that.

    So, again, it is acceptable to say this video is bad, that this video’s content is bad, that the person who made it is a bad person, but it is not acceptable for a government official to imply that this video should be taken off of youtube because the content is objectionable.

  95. Andy says:

    In other words, the old Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote, often misattributed to Voltaire, applies in this case: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  96. Crusty Dem says:

    Because it seems to have gone down the memory hole of so many here, I will point out that Fleisher’s comments about Maher (for agreeing with Dinesh D’Souza that the 9/11 hijackers were not cowards, but we were for lobbing cruise missiles rather than putting boots in the ground in fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan) came while Maher’s show was on ABC, and many affiliates immediately dropped Maher’s show which was rapidly cancelled.

    Just a bit of (recent) historical fact that’s been absent. I’m sure Doug thought it was much worse than Obama intimidating google by asking them whether a video violated their own guidelines. Remember, when Obama’s jack-booted thugs will come to your door knocking, ask politely, and leave without harming you in any way (shudders).

  97. jukeboxgrad says:

    andy:

    A government official saying someone is a bad person is not remotely the same thing as a government official suggesting that a person’s speech should be removed from youtube or any other venue.

    But Fleischer didn’t say “someone is a bad person.” He said Maher should stop saying what he was saying. Fleischer said this:

    they’re reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do

    When the president’s office is telling me “[I] need to watch what [I] say,” I don’t see how that’s different from “suggesting that a person’s speech should be removed from youtube.”

    Actually, I do see how it’s different: the latter is narrow, and targeted. It’s about one particular item of speech. Whereas Fleischer’s statement was a general warning to everyone.

    it is not acceptable for a government official to imply that this video should be taken off of youtube because the content is objectionable

    Except that Fleischer implied that Maher should shut up “because the content is objectionable.”

    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

    Except that the second half of that statement is nowhere to be found in what Fleischer said.

    And no one has answered this question: if the government is doing illegal wiretapping, should the press not report this because the government told them not to? Because that’s what happened with Bush and the NYT. That darn liberal media.

  98. Christopher says:

    @Lynda: Great idea- a prayer tent for Catholics and Protestants.

  99. Modulo Myself says:

    Here we have the government simply asking Google to review its policies. As far as I can tell, according to our Supreme Court at least, all speech is protected equally, so the government asking Google to review its policies is no different than me asking Google to review its policies. So what exactly is the problem, Doug?

  100. Spartacus says:

    @Andy:

    Well, I’m not claiming the President himself picks up the phone to make these requests. I claiming that presidential “administrations” make these requests. I don’t know who within an administration makes the request, but whoever it is, s/he does so with the authority of the government.

    “Government has a legitimate interest in protecting and controlling the information it produces and it’s normal for the government to request that news organizations not publish government (usually classified) information.”

    Government also routinely ask media not to disclose information that was not taken from the government. There have been cases where newspapers obtained from other sources information that was not owned by the government. The disclosure of that information would have compromised a government investigation or government operation, and the government asked those organizations not to publish the information.

    More importantly, your argument that the government should be entitled to ask organizations not to publish information that is owned by the government goes directly against the first amendment. You’re making the very same argument that the government made against Daniel Ellsberg, and the Supreme Court firmly concluded that the protection of that type of disclosure is one of the very purposes of the first amendment. Similarly, in the case that Jukeboxgrad cited above (NYT disclosure of government wiretapping), the Times relied on the view that the whole point of the first amendment is to protect people from the government. So it seems odd to hear your argument that the first amendment shouldn’t be used to protect the disclosure of information that is owned by the government.

    “the federal government has tried in a few cases to reclassify information it had previously declassified. That is a lot more troubling than attempts to prevent the publication of classified information in the first place.”

    This also seems to be an odd argument since the government has almost an unfettered right to determine what information is classified and what information isn’t classified. And, its the President who gets to decide that. Outside of disclosures that are required by FOIA, there is no first amendment prohibition the government retroactively classifying information as secret.

    As for the government’s request of Google, I still don’t see how the timing of the disclosure makes a difference on the question of whether the government has infringed a private entity’s first amendment rights. In all of the examples I’ve given, the government has asked a private entity to refrain from exercising its first amendment right to publish (or continue to publish) speech. Whether the speech has yet to be published or has already been published makes absolutely no difference from a legal perspective. Please explain how it’s a greater “infringement” to ask Google to stop an existing publication than it would be to ask it not to publish something in the first place.

  101. jukeboxgrad says:

    Let’s also remember what DeMint said a few days ago:

    It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims

    Maher is part of that category (“Americans engaging in free speech”), so I don’t know why DeMint didn’t condem Fleischer when Fleischer condemned Maher.

    IOKIYAR.

  102. JKB says:

    @Aidan:

    It is sad you cannot already comprehend the impact of someone with power “asking” for such a review.

    True power never has to act overtly, it is implied. Either the individual to whom the request is made will act in hopes of garnering favor or in fear of “difficulties” in the future. It is commendable that Google stood tall against the request. If there are repercussions, they will be subtle and overt. A needed regulation change will suddenly become impossible, a license will need review. On the plus side, an Obama loss of power will dampen any reprisal and remove many of the petty bureaucrats who might take such actions.

    Here, this is a bit of theatrical illustration

  103. jukeboxgrad says:

    And you are still refusing to explain how your complaints don’t apply to Fleischer.

  104. jukeboxgrad says:

    Andy at least took a shot at it. Your approach is to play deaf.

  105. Andy says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    When the president’s office is telling me “[I] need to watch what [I] say,” I don’t see how that’s different from “suggesting that a person’s speech should be removed from youtube.”

    Well, I think it’s quite a bit different. Fleischer’s statement is general in nature and equivalents have been said many times. For instance, as I recall, many government officials said essentially the same thing in response to the Arizona shooting that wounded Gabby Giffords. A general statement that words can have negative effects is, IMO, not remotely the same thing as specifically asking to remove specific content. If Ari Fleischer asked ABC to review its policies with regard to keeping Maher on the air, or asked ABC to consider removing that episode or excising Maher’s comments from the episode, then that would be roughly equivalent to the Obama administration’s request. It would be the government essentially asking a private entity to censor content because that content was objectionable. To my knowledge Ari Fleischer didn’t do that, but the Obama administration most certainly did.

    As I said before, let’s take Fleischer’s comments and change Maher to this video. We get: [The Obama administration] “denounced the video, saying of news organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these ”people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.” That is not objectionable to me. Asking someone to REMOVE content, or to consider removing content, is.

    And no one has answered this question: if the government is doing illegal wiretapping, should the press not report this because the government told them not to? Because that’s what happened with Bush and the NYT. That darn liberal media.

    Probably because that is irrelevant to the discussion. The debate is about when is it or isn’t it appropriate for the Executive branch of the government (or government officials generally) to ask a private entity to cease publishing content created by private citizen. IMO it is not appropriate.

  106. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “And your actual respect from Freedom Of Speech is revealed for what it is, sadly”

    No, what’s sad is you (and others) trying to turn this into a first amendment issue because you can’t take a break from criticizing the president.

    It’s not a first amendment issue. It’s a national security issue.

  107. Andy says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    Andy at least took a shot at it. Your approach is to play deaf.

    Dude, I am not here to serve you. I am not constantly at my keyboard to immediately answer your queries. My inability to answer on your timetable is not “playing deaf.” If you cannot wait a 20 or 30 minutes (or even longer) for a reply then this discussion is over.

  108. jukeboxgrad says:

    andy:

    equivalents have been said many times. For instance, as I recall, many government officials said essentially the same thing in response to the Arizona shooting

    The devil is in the details. I need to see quotes.

    It would be the government essentially asking a private entity to censor content because that content was objectionable. To my knowledge Ari Fleischer didn’t do that

    When the president’s office is telling me “[I] need to watch what [I] say,” that’s a warning to all private entities that they need to make sure their content is not objectionable.

    That is not objectionable to me. Asking someone to REMOVE content, or to consider removing content, is.

    Consider these two statements:

    A) You need to watch what you say.
    B) You should consider removing that content.

    You see a material difference between A and B. I don’t.

    Probably because that is irrelevant to the discussion. The debate is about when is it or isn’t it appropriate for the Executive branch of the government (or government officials generally) to ask a private entity to cease publishing content created by private citizen.

    If you’re concerned about freedom of speech, you should be concerned that GWB told NYT to shut up and NYT said “yes sir.”

    If you cannot wait a 20 or 30 minutes

    I think it should be clear from what I wrote that I was describing JKB as deaf, not you. I was mentioning you as an example of someone who is being responsive, unlike him.

  109. Lynda says:

    @Christopher:
    I may have misunderstood but aren’t prayer tents a place where people focus on religious tenants such as ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’?

    In your original comment you stated

    Maybe they need to come over here and take a lesson from the Christian people about how to react when something happens that does not conform to a person’s faith or is very disgusting, such as a movie, book, or some act. Christian people do not take to the streets killing people and blowing things up

    Given the recent rioting, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland seem to have forgotten this.

  110. john personna says:

    I am really surprised that we’ve wrapped around to pretending this is censorship issue again.

    I thought we established that it was a license and terms of use question.

    Oh yeah, and whenever the government asks a question it “illustrates the violence inherent in the system.”

  111. Andy says:

    @Spartacus:

    As for the government’s request of Google, I still don’t see how the timing of the disclosure makes a difference on the question of whether the government has infringed a private entity’s first amendment rights.

    Just to be clear I’m not claiming that the government is infringing on first amendment rights in this case. I think I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that I believe it’s inappropriate for the government to ask that private entities censor content that is already in the public domain whether that content is reclassified material or whether the content is merely objectionable or politically explosive. Should the government try to put actual muscle behind such attempts in order to actually coerce private entities into censoring content, then that would be a case of infringement IMO.

    Moreover, I think it’s kind of dumb for the government to even try. In the digital age, once the horse is out of the barn there’s no putting it back. Again, I have to wonder what the administration was trying to accomplish here. Did they really think Google would pull the video?

    Again, consider the counterfactual. If Google had pulled the video everyone would assume that the decision was due to the government’s request. Had that happened, would people still be arguing that the government wasn’t trying to censor this video, or that Google wasn’t pressured into it’s decision? Even if Google had legitimately pulled the video solely because of an internal policy review, the perception that Google acted in response to government pressure would still be there.

    A lot of this comes down to perception. No matter what Google’s decision, it will be colored by the fact that it’s in response to a request by the Executive Branch of the government. As I said before, I think Google’s decision had nothing to do with their own internal policies and everything to do with how their answer to the administration’s request would be perceived. Thus by asking for a review, the administration put Google into a box where it had little choice but to keep the video online to avoid the perception they caved to “the man.” That is not first amendment infringement, but the influence of the Executive Branch is still the elephant in the room and so administrations should be very wary of making these kinds of requests and they should be rare.

  112. cd6 says:

    I don’t understand how we can even be having this discussion

    If Obama totally abandoned freedom of speech, wouldn’t his ACORN goons or somebody shut down this website??

  113. Andy says:

    @jukeboxgrad:

    You see a material difference between A and B. I don’t.

    Then we will have to agree to disagree.

    If you’re concerned about freedom of speech, you should be concerned that GWB told NYT to shut up and NYT said “yes sir.”

    I agree, but I still think it’s irrelevant to the discussion.

    I think it should be clear from what I wrote that I was describing JKB as deaf, not you. I was mentioning you as an example of someone who is being responsive, unlike him.

    My apologies then, I had assumed you were talking to me.

  114. Dazedandconfused says:

    When you start to question whether or not the government can even ask something in a situation where you know it’s about not getting anybody else needlessly killed, you may wish to consider putting down the law books for a bit and getting out and about more. It’s real blood. Real coffins.

    Sorry for the snark, Doug, you are just trying to encourage discussion, but as Adams put it, Ideology is a science for idiots.

    This nation has a Constitution that is a mere pamphlet because they had to assume there would be Common Sense. Had to. Democracy hasn’t a chance without it.

  115. Andy says:

    @john personna:

    I am really surprised that we’ve wrapped around to pretending this is censorship issue again.

    I thought we established that it was a license and terms of use question.

    Oh yeah, and whenever the government asks a question it “illustrates the violence inherent in the system.”

    Speaking of pretending, are we going to pretend that the administration’s query was really about licensing and terms of use? Are we going to pretend the administration’s sudden interest in Google’s internal policies don’t include a desire to see Google pull the video?

    Who asks a question matters a great deal and when government asks a question the mere fact that it’s asking will inevitably influence the answer. And when the question is about whether a particular video should be pulled off the world’s biggest video website then the question of censorship and the first amendment will inevitably come up.

  116. jukeboxgrad says:

    andy:

    I have to wonder what the administration was trying to accomplish here.

    It’s possibly (at least in part) a PR move for the purpose of sending a message to people far away that the US government does not support or condone the video. Because people leading the mobs are pushing the opposite narrative, and for various reasons they are in a strong position to do so.

    the perception that Google acted in response to government pressure would still be there

    This would vary, depending on if they were able to show that the item genuinely violated their TOS.

    Are we going to pretend the administration’s sudden interest in Google’s internal policies don’t include a desire to see Google pull the video?

    It’s possible that there is a genuine desire to see Google pull the video, along with an equally genuine willingness to let Google make that decision strictly based on their own TOS.

    I had assumed you were talking to me

    No problem, it was an understandable misunderstanding.

  117. Spartacus says:

    @Andy:

    “Just to be clear I’m not claiming that the government is infringing on first amendment rights in this case. I think I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that I believe it’s inappropriate for the government to ask . . .”

    I misunderstood your earlier posts.

    “In the digital age, once the horse is out of the barn there’s no putting it back.”

    Okay, I now understand your point about the timing of the disclosure. It’s an argument against the effectiveness of the government’s request – not whether, as Doug seemed to argue, the fact that the info is already out makes the President’s request an even greater 1st amendment infringement.

    “Thus by asking for a review, the administration put Google into a box where it had little choice but to keep the video online to avoid the perception they caved to “the man.””

    This may be a first in the history of the internets, but I’ve just been persuaded to be more sympathetic to a position by the comments of an anonymous person on a blog. I still believe the Administration’s concern for safety of others outweighs the concern about how its request of Google would be perceived, but you’re absolutely right that an administration should be very wary in making these requests.

    Thank you for a thoughtful dialog.

  118. angelfoot says:

    @Andy: Of course the administration would like to have the video pulled. I don’t think anyone is pretending otherwise.

    I do sympathize with concerns about government coercion, but I just don’t see any disrespect of the company or the first amendment here. It seems to me they approached it in precisely the right manner, asking Google to review the clip against their own terms of use.

    Also has anyone here watched the complete video? If you love Jack Chick, this thing is right up your alley.

  119. Andy says:

    @Spartacus:

    This may be a first in the history of the internets, but I’ve just been persuaded to be more sympathetic to a position by the comments of an anonymous person on a blog.

    And this may be the first time I’ve succeeded in persuading an anonymous person on a blog! Also, this dialog revealed to me that this issue isn’t quite as simple and rare as I originally thought.

    I still believe the Administration’s concern for safety of others outweighs the concern about how its request of Google would be perceived, but you’re absolutely right that an administration should be very wary in making these requests.

    I would be more sympathetic to this argument if I thought pulling the video at this point would do anything regarding safety. I see the video as a catalyst for violence rather than a cause and video has already done its damage.

    Thank you for a thoughtful dialog.

    Likewise!

  120. Joe says:

    Google said NO to Owebama. Now expect investigations by DOJ, IRS and DHS. Owebama will do anything to stay in power and the Executives running these federal agencies will follow any order no matter how unconstitutional in order to maintain their cushy high paid job and secure their fat pension.

  121. Mike says:

    I sure wish as much attention had been paid to the death of our ambassador and the three people working in our embassy verses this film making fun of Allah and Mohammad. It just doesn’t seem right that people have to give their lives for others saying something Muslims don’t like. I was going to give my full opinion of what I think about the whole situation but I’ve decided not to. I simply don’t want FBI agents coming to my house questioning me about my feelings or a fatwa being placed on me. I don’t know what in the hell I’ll do when Sharia law becomes the law of the US.

  122. Davebo says:

    Dude. I am the one speaking out against our government’s attempt to intimidate YouTube into pulling down a video.

    Seriously Wolf, climb out from underneath the coffee table for a minute and think this through.

    I don’t know what in the hell I’ll do when Sharia law becomes the law of the US.

    Hopefully avoid the brown acid in the future. Or wake up and realize you’re actually in Saudi Arabia!

  123. @Andy:

    Speaking of pretending, are we going to pretend that the administration’s query was really about licensing and terms of use? Are we going to pretend the administration’s sudden interest in Google’s internal policies don’t include a desire to see Google pull the video?

    It was exactly about terms of use. Google has “hate speech” guidelines.

    We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).

    If they did not, and the government were asking them to invent some on the spot, you might have some kind of point.

  124. I suppose I could ask the “extra credit” question: did Google actually follow it’s own guideline?

    Does this film “demean a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity?”

  125. dominoe4 says:

    Maybe Obama is in a rush to get to the “H’s”…so he let Google slide…..General Motors, Gibson Guitars, then Google….now?…..He’s ‘putting the boot on the neck” and ‘finding out who’s ass to kick” in alphabetical order.

  126. @dominoe4:

    Dude. “Gibson Guitars?”

    Do you just not know that rainforest hardwoods face extinction, or do you think that since Gibson is American (damn it) they should be able to buy any wood facing extinction?

    Latest research from Duke University has shown that some species of Rosewood from the tropical forests of Madagascar are in danger of becoming extinct. Continued illegal logging combined with social and political unrest in the area means that there is a lack of law enforcement. international protections policies are also not being enforced.

  127. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “Dude. “Gibson Guitars?””

    Seriously….

    There”s no doubt Gibson makes great guitars, but the company is run by the kind of clown who thinks he can repeatedly break the law and then go running to his buddies in Congress after the factory gets raided. Sound business strategy? Not if you want to keep the doors open.

    It’s funny. On the show Ancient Aliens, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos has the guffaw-inducing habit of looking at all of history’s mysteries and concluding that “it was aliens.” Contemporary right wing partisans look at today’s political landscape and conclude “it was Obama.”

    “I’m not saying it was Obama……but it was Obama.”

  128. dominoe4 says:

    Dude, did you know that the law they used to close Gibson was an Indian ruling on Indian workers only finishing these types of wood…did you know that Indian and African hardwoods have been used for decades?…do you know that the regime probably kills more trees in the form of bureaucratic paperwork and clearing of land to grow corn in the use of ethanol?…Dude, did you know that this is the 2nd time Gibson has had their materials conficated without timely charges and that the government has kept theit assets?. Now I ask you..what is the benefit of the Feds now holding these wood products to be left to rot? Martin Guitars uses these same exact woods, yet they were not seized…you know why? Martin donated to Obama….Gibson did not.
    Oh Lord, how many trees must die in the making of guitars!? Waaahhh…less that the number of birds and bats killed by wind-turbines…definitely less than babies killed by publicly-funded abortion industries. Save the trees! Kill the humans! Leftists are despicable.

  129. Herb says:

    @dominoe4:

    “Martin Guitars uses these same exact woods, yet they were not seized…you know why? Martin donated to Obama….Gibson did not.”

    I pictured you saying this with a speech impediment and wild hair. In other words….”“I’m not saying it was Obama……but it was Obama.”

    I have to say…..it’s amusing to me that you think your conspiracy theory about the political motivations behind the Gibson raid is locked down solid. And you’re entirely skeptical about the company using illegal wood despite being raided twice.

    I would say that you should offer your services pro bono to the Gibson defense team, but the company needs more sound advice and less “leftists are despicable” non sequiturs.

  130. dominoe4 says:

    Amazingly, when the administration manages to shake $500,000 from the pockets of a guitar manufacturer, the ‘endangered trees’ are magically saved. I wonder if Gibson had sculpted a statue of Obama from Indian hard-wood, what the environmentalists would say? Probably what they say about taking sand from a beach for said purpose or Obama and wife criss-crossing the US in two separate carbon-spewing jets……nothing!

  131. MBunge says:

    Anyone who wonders why poll after polls shows weak public support for the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech need look no further than this thread. The President takes what I’d guess the overwhelming majority of Americans would see as a wise and sensible move and the alleged defenders of free speech react like scalded cats.

    Mike

  132. dominoe4 says:

    I picture you as, sort of, Michael Moore’s less hygenic-conscience brother, Herb…scraping your weed dust together with your EBT card.

  133. dominoe4 says:

    A ‘wise and sensible’ move, genius, would be to NOT have aided and abetted the Muslim Brotherhood in attaining power, properly armed and defended American out-posts, attending at least, some intelligence briefings, and not turning a blind eye to reality. It is absurd to believe that the ‘wise’ move for the President was asking Google to remove a video. You guys live in an alternate universe.

  134. dominoe4 says:

    There’s no conspriracy. Herb. Your Kenyan boy-king flaunts the law in the open. Again, I ask, $500,000 to the administration magically saves trees?

  135. Herb says:

    @dominoe4: Write that down. You can use it next time you call in to your favorite talk show. That stuff kills during drive-time.

  136. dominoe4 says:

    Nice attempt at deflection, Herb. Why was only Gibson, which did not donate to Obama, get the ‘boot on the neck’ when other manufacturers use these same woods? I’ll tell you why…the same reason most of the big donors to the Republican party have had the IRS sicced on them…because dimocrats are petty little, butt-sore tyrants. I like your pathetic little attempt at diversion…problem is, I never said, “I’m not saying it’s Obama…”. I certainly am saying that. So there goes your whole lame defense. I’m guessing noone would want you acting in their defense, even if you payed THEM. What a great C-in-C you ‘tards have chosen…muslims engage in an act of war, using grenade launchers on sovereign US land and killing 4 Americans and Obama swiftly and decidedly goes into action against……Google. The left now stutters and stammers over what this means for ‘freedom of speech’…but damn it! They WILL NOT be moved or swayed from that ‘right’ to free contraceptives. You guys are a joke.

  137. jukeboxgrad says:

    Obama swiftly and decidedly goes into action against……Google

    Nuking Mecca would have been a much better idea.

  138. john personna says:

    @dominoe4:

    When you bring too much crazy your comments become self-defeating. At that point it becomes needless to answer.

  139. dominoe4 says:

    Herb, I know facts mean little to you, as does answering legitimate questions….so you and Obongo have that in common. The charges against Gibson began with using ‘American’ labor to finish unfinished wood..in violation of a rule in Asia meant for Asians…not the wood itself, which is evidenced, as I said in the idea that other manufacturers use the same woods but have not been raided. The idea that being raided ‘twice’ brings some legitimacy to the charges is awfully ‘Clintonesque’…in that idea she spouted, in such typical liberal rage, “It’s not the evidence…it’s the seriousness of the charges!!”. Which means, by your own standards, Obama is guilty of a host of charges and impeachment proceedings should begin immediately. Beginning with Fast and Furious, he’s been accused more than once, and it’s obvious his executive order to keep documents sealed is proof enough of guilt…it’s the seriousness of the charges. And dead people mean more to most than dead trees, unless you’re libtarded, even if it was mostly those Mexicans that the left enjoys using as tools and slave labor.
    After that we can proceed on his attempts to stifle free-speech. more than one example of that…which, should mean by your standards…guilty. Ignoring this particular warning of muslim violece at our embassies, campaigning on public resources and property, unlawful circumvention of Constitutional law on many occasions…the list just keeps growing.

  140. dominoe4 says:

    ” Nuking Mecca would have been a much better idea.”
    Did I say that?

  141. dominoe4 says:

    John, I actually never expected an answer from you people. That would be too much to ask. You might have to think and I wouldn’t want y’all to pull a muscle or something. If you exercised thought, we wouldn’t be stuck with Obongo in the first place. Where’s the ‘Change’, BTW? Don’t worry…I don’t expect an answer.

  142. jukeboxgrad says:

    Did I say that?

    It wouldn’t be surprising if you did, because the idea comes up from time to time (example).

  143. dominoe4 says:

    “.. weak public support for the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech..” Only in a Country infested with the cancer of liberalism would I expect to see that phrase and to see it typed out with no hint of outrage or sadness.

  144. MBunge says:

    @dominoe4: “see it typed out with no hint of outrage or sadness.

    I did not know there was a “hint of outrage or sadness” emoticon.

    Mike

  145. @dominoe4:

    I warned you about bringing the crazy, and you couldn’t hold it together for one comment, could you?

    John, I actually never expected an answer from you people. That would be too much to ask. You might have to think and I wouldn’t want y’all to pull a muscle or something. If you exercised thought, we wouldn’t be stuck with Obongo in the first place. Where’s the ‘Change’, BTW? Don’t worry…I don’t expect an answer.

    You go “Obongo” which is actually enough to scare off normal people (just so you know) and then into a crazy rhetorical question and answer.

    Basically be aware that you have to seem sane to make a case to people who disagree with you. Oh, you can trade crazy with other true believers, but that isn’t at all the same thing.

  146. Herb says:

    @dominoe4:

    “Nice attempt at deflection, Herb.”

    Well, I was going to say more, but I’m having a more interesting discussion with my kitchen table.

    If you’d like to debate the merits of the Gibson case, we can. Perhaps not in this space as that’s a bit off topic…but it is possible.

    But if you want to debate the Gibson case as “Exhibit 3253” in your case against “The Left,” then I’m not really interested. Again….call a talk show. They’ll give you five minutes. Me….I don’t have time for that crap.

  147. dominoe4 says:

    MBunge – your full comment says it all, insisting on being ‘cute’ about sucha sad statement reinforces it.

    Herb- You and your buddy, john. above got the ball rolling by focusing on Gibson…not me. So nice cowardly way to bow out. You remind me a little of Obongo in that sense too.

    john – You, like Herb, have also continued to evade a true debate. Calling people ‘crazy’ ..that’s a nice cop-out. You’re more of a coward than Herb. BTW, Obongo himself has scared more ‘normal’ people than I could in my lifetime. I’m not here to convince people that are sitting on the fence. So, basically, most people will either be Obongo sycophants or despise him..those that aren’t sure are few and wouldn’t be inerested anyway.
    Well, anyway, it’s been nice NOT talking to you cowardly leftists…again. I should have just expected some rudeness and name-calling. What was I thinking expecting to get some sort of debate out of this…especially since Herb is busy talking to his kitchen table…which I’m guessing is never free of fast food wrappers and piles of the NYTimes.

  148. Herb says:

    @dominoe4: Keep it up, bud, and you’ll have to do your name-calling somewhere else.

    From the comments policy:

    Remember that the people under discussion are human beings. Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.

    Now I don’t have the ban hammer myself, and I personally wouldn’t ban you, but it does happen.

    Usually to obvious trolls who can’t contain their prejudices. You know, like you. So do us a favor: Say “Obongo” again.

  149. al-Ameda says:

    @Mike:

    I don’t know what in the hell I’ll do when Sharia law becomes the law of the US.

    Move to Oklahoma, I believe that they passed legislation banning Sharia Law.

  150. An Interested Party says:

    Only in a Country infested with the cancer of liberalism …

    It is quite amusing that someone typing drivel like this would become upset that he wasn’t receiving what he would consider an appropriate debate from others…

    Obongo

    Speaking of rudeness and name-calling…why don’t you just call him a ni@@er and get it over with…

  151. Twitter @nomdeplume7 says:

    This website has censored my reply to your blog four times. Why do you support them?

  152. Twitter @nomdeplume7 says:

    I put my reply here, since this website won’t allow it:

    http://better-dead-than-fed.tumblr.com/post/31689892440/u-s-subjects-all-talk-no-action

  153. bk says:

    Why is it that when lawyers get their own blogs, they turn stupid? See Althouse; Jacobsen; Reynolds.

  154. jukeboxgrad says:

    This website has censored my reply

    The spam filter kicks in if you use too many links. Try fewer links, or no links.

  155. bk says:

    @Mike:

    I don’t know what in the hell I’ll do when Sharia law becomes the law of the US.

    I hear that there is a provision in the Sharia law code that bans the wearing of tinfoil hats. We’re doomed!

  156. dominoe4 says:
  157. dominoe4 says:

    @Interested Party,
    obongo..part of a family name handed down throughout Obama’s family history in Kenya. You know, the one’s that live in poverty because Obama must have forgotten that whole ‘spread the wealth around a little’ thingy.

  158. dominoe4 says:

    You guys, of course, realize that all movies (like one planned for release now), books, etc., referencing Obama’s killing of Bin Laden must now be banned based on your own beliefs. These would certainly inflame the usually peaceful and calm islamic nations.

  159. dominoe4 says:

    Herb,if your so concerned about the ‘ban’ policy, bud, maybe you should keep it in mind when you start off with this,” I pictured you saying this with a speech impediment and wild hair. In other words….”“I’m not saying it was Obama……but it was Obama.” Okay, bud?

  160. Ken says:

    Instead of apologizing for a film that the United States, as a nation, is not responsible for… the President needs to be a more forthright proponent of American liberty.

    I have always considered the contributors on this site to be among the more honest and intelligent voices from the right, but by this point anyone who is still making the claim that President Obama apologized for that film is either willfully ignorant, or a shameless liar. Or both.

    It has become pretty clear that you’re not a good faith actor in this modern political discussion of ours, and so you go onto the scrap heap of dishonest ideological hacks. Say hello to your bunkmates – Glenn Reynolds, Dinesh D’Souza, Ken Ham, et al

  161. Joyce says:

    @michael reynolds: I understand your feelings, however (you knew there was going to be a “however”) anytime our government takes a hand in trying to “modify” speech we need to sit up and pay attention. Google did exactly the right thing. WE are in no way responsible for the actions another person takes because they don’t like something we said or wrote. Simplistic? To a degree, yes. The alternative is to give up speaking at all because ALL speech offends SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE. If you, as a writer must change your stories so as not to insult anyone, your stories would not be worth reading. If I stop speaking the truth as I see it about Islam, then by my silence I am promoting that which I see as deadly to our country. Silence doesn’t buy our lives. Silence just makes it easier to kill and enslave without consequence.

  162. REally? says:

    @Spartacus: Uh, Lots of people dogged Bush for this. What u been smokin?