People often romanticize outlaws. Ballads galore have been written about Billy the Kid and Jesse James; both a book and a movie portrayed India’s Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi. She was a lower-caste Hindu who had been publicly gang-raped by higher-caste goons and she ran away and literally became their worst nightmare. I must admit, I have always been fond of this true story.
Now, Samina Malik, Britain’s “lyrical terrorist,” has been sentenced to a nine month suspended sentence and 100 hours of volunteer work. She is the British based poet who valorizes be-heading and jihad. The argument she presented is very au courant among western civil libertarians, leftists, and feminists. (Please understand: I am a feminist too but I hold the minority opinion on diverse issues ranging from prostitution to motherhood and religion).
Malik is arguing the equivalent of those who insist that pornography is only a theatrical image, not a criminal rape in progress; or those who proclaim that hate speech in a poem or a novel cannot be subjected to legal penalties since Art and freedom of expression are essential components of a free society.
Thus, just because Malik dreams of “jihadi martyrdom” and describes non-Muslims as “stinking kuffar apes” does not mean that she herself personally believes this or that she is recommending that others “act” on such beliefs. “This is a meaningless poem” says Malik. “To partake of something and to write about something are two different things.”
Take that, western civilization. Islamists will use your vaunted freedoms against you; and you will justify what we do in the name of your precious civil rights.
I suspect that Malik would never have been found guilty in America; that is the genius of our First Amendment. And, Britain, which found her guilty, is also quick to reward libel tourists precisely because Britain does not have an equivalent First Amendment.
So, what are we going to do? Suspend or weaken our First Amendment because we are at war? Expand its power to protect even enemy combatants in order to demonstrate that we are civilized and not barbaric?
Quo Vadis? Which way do we go my friends?