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Friday, September 29, 2006

Support Freedom of Speech - Support Williams and Fainaru-Wada and Redeker

Every golf writer, blogger, journalist and red-blooded American should join me in supporting the rights of free speech and freedom of the press for three people - the "steroid journalists" from the San Francisco Chronicle who broke the Barry Bonds bombshell and French Journalist Robert Redeker who is on the run from Militant Islamic Extremists who issued death threats in response to an article critical of Islam and Mohammed. The extremists released information on how to find and murder him in the name of Islam.

First, District Judge Jeffrey White basically said his hands were tied and that he had to hold Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada in contempt of court for failing to reveal sources who leaked Bonds' grand jury testimony.

They would never work again if they caved. In a choice between your livelihood and your freedom, you have to choose your livelihood. Freedom without the ability to earn a living isn't freedom at all.

I am a lawyer and I have a deep respect for the sanctity of the grand jury process, but here, the equity is clear. Hopefully the shield law which would protect journalists from jail time for failing to name sources will get passed. They are free pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit.

If the Ninth Circuit can find a way to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and find a way to make Grokster legal under copyright law, they can do far less yoga here and do the right thing. These guys are fighting for the health of our children and for the sanctity of fairness in sports. They should be repsected and praised, not punished for doing an excellent job.

Next, French philosophy professor Robert Redeker is on the run for his life tonight for exercising his right to free speech.

Redeker made inflammatory comments against the prophet Mohammed and Islam and the Quran.

Redeker's comments were unwise, over-the-top and he should have known they would provoke backlash. He should have been far more measured and chosen his words with greater care - but his ignorant actions still should never provoke the much more violent and illegal reaction of murder.

The death threats which followed his piece's publication prove that Islamic Extremists rely on intimidation and threats of violence and even murder to silence opposition and spread their hegemony. A fatwa such as the one under which Redeker lives (and Salman Rushdie before him) is nothing more than saying "I must kill you now to suppress criticism of my religion and because my God tells me." There is no room in civilized society for such barbarism.

This is a letter from Redeker to a friend seeking sanctuary:

“I am now in a catastrophic personal situation. Several death threats have been sent to me, and I have been sentenced to death by organizations of the al-Qaeda movement. [...] On the websites condemning me to death there is a map showing how to get to my house to kill me, they have my photo, the places where I work, the telephone numbers, and the death fatwa. [...] There is no safe place for me, I have to beg, two evenings here, two evenings there. [...] I am under the constant protection of the police. I must cancel all scheduled conferences. And the authorities urge me to keep moving. [...] All costs are at my own expense, including those of rents a month or two ahead, the costs of moving twice, legal expenses, etc.

It's quite sad. I exercised my constitutional rights, and I am punished for it, even in the territory of the Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty – foreign rules, decided by criminally minded fanatics, punish me for having exercised a constitutional right, and I am subjected, even in France, to great injury.”

Just imagine for one minute that it were you. Your life would never be the same simply because you spoke your mind.

No one should ever have to suffer such persecution for engaging in intellectual debate. On this point, we must not submit.


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