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Some caution needed

Reader comment on item: [The Boim Trial:] Exploiting the Koran to Terrorize

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Dec 15, 2004 at 09:06

I cannot complain when Hamas fronts get bankrupted, especially when large payments are made to real victims (I don't weep for the Klan or Aryan Nations getting bankrupted by litigation, either). Yet I can smell a big can of worms opening: people can and will use litigation as a kind of shakedown against a wide range of targets.

In this same week, I read of a Judge Rasheedie in San Francisco dismissing the 398th-400th cases brought by a wheelchair-bound man against a string of restaurants and other businesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act Apparently, the plaintiff has been making a living this way, and the judge got suspicious when 3 actionable incidents happened in one day. The judge declared the plaintiff a "vexatious litigant", forbade him to bring further actions under the AWDA without a judge's approval, and held conference with the man's lawyer to ask whether it might not be appropriate to penalize the lawyer and his firm for encouraging this kind of legal shakedown.

I can foresee a combination of precedent (ruining a Hamas front or two, the KKK, and Aryan Nations) and "hate crime" legislation being used by radical Muslims to ruin vulnerable targets such as Christian or Jewish institutions whose preachers or teachers say, "Muhammad cannot be a prophet of God because [plug in any answer based on biblical exegesis]..." The fact that groups like Hamas and their sympathizers have declared a jihad against the rest of us makes this a distinct possibility. The fact is that such statements can be tenuously linked to violence, given 1400 years of confrontation between Islam and Christianity; or the activities of groups like Gush Emunim; etc.

I for one believe that freedom of speech was written into the Bill of Rights for the sake of all of us, not just those well-financed and organized enough to bring a suit all the way to the Supreme Court.

I hope Keys' decision was based on a very clear paper trail that showed the money going to train suicide bombers and support their families. Otherwise, we may be finding ourselves with our courts as the next jihadi battleground, and a serious constitutional crisis ensuing. Reading of the Keys and Rasheedie decisions on different cases in the same week made me pause and think.
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