September 15, 2012

ED MORRISSEY: Media endangers entire neighborhood to pursue thoughtcrime suspect.

Take a look at just the first minute or so of this report. Look at all of the media trucks in this sleepy little neighborhood, and not just KTLA’s. If anyone interested in taking revenge on Nakoula Besseley Nakoula wanted to know where to find him, it wouldn’t take long in this small city, especially with some media reports noting Nakoula’s distinctive front door. And while some people wouldn’t care about Nakoula’s fate, the kind of people looking to take revenge on him aren’t really known for their precision attacks and avoidance of collateral damage. This media swarm puts that entire neighborhood at risk, now and probably for a very long time.

And for what? Is Nakoula a serial killer? A child molester? No, he’s a man with poor taste who made a video that insulted some people who can’t deal with criticism, even the laughably inane and inept criticism of this 14-minute cheesefest that makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. However, in the US, making really bad movies and engaging in even inept theological and historical commentary isn’t a crime at all. The media are undermining the same guarantees of free speech that allow them to operate without government interference, and they’re putting people’s lives at risk while doing so. They’re not going to be happy until there’s another crater in Cerritos.

Meanwhile, while the media provides moment-to-moment coverage of Thoughtcrime Enemy #1 this week, the feds are interrogating him as to whether his filmmaking might violate his probation on unrelated matters. . . . Here’s the question: would any of these people care about Nakoula’s probation status had the video not purportedly caused riots? If so, isn’t this pursuit more about the kind of speech in which Nakoula engaged than in what kind of activity he may have conducted with computers and the Internet? This is dangerous ground for free speech, and the media is making Cerritos into dangerous ground in a much more literal sense.

The media used to call themselves preventers of tyranny. They seem more like enablers, these days.

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