Robert Spencer reports at FrontPage Magazine:
In a major victory for the increasingly embattled freedom of speech, the Texas Supreme Court has just denied a petition by the Islamic Society of Arlington, Texas and six other Texas-based Islamic organizations to review their case against human rights activist (and FrontPage Magazine writer) Joe Kaufman. The case has already gone against the Islamic groups in the initial decision as well as on appeal, but they seem determined to silence Kaufman, and could conceivably try now to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here’s how Joe Kaufman explains his case:
“In October 2007, I had a lawsuit and a restraining order brought against me by seven Dallas-area Islamic organizations, who objected to an article that I had written for FrontPage. Not one of the groups was mentioned in the article. It was concerning information I had personally discovered linking the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) to the financing of terrorism abroad. My allegations regarding this were and are backed up by irrefutable proof.”
The suit itself is a manifestation of the global assault on free speech that is picking up steam more quickly than ever now, with conservative voices shouted down and physically threatened on college campuses, and warriors for free speech such as the Dutch politician Geert Wilders facing trial for exercising this fundamental right.
Perhaps the strangest and most ominous aspect of this case is that none of the groups bringing suit were mentioned in the article which they claim libeled them. But claiming to be offended often seems to trump everything, including rational argument, legal rights and even physical safety. It’s not just radical Muslims who do this; it’s a favorite tactic of the left, particularly on college campuses, where conservative speakers are shouted down and sometimes physically attacked. Spencer gives an example:
Speaking at the University of Southern California on November 4, 2009, David Horowitz noted that this was a relatively recent development: “It used to be a pleasure for me to speak on a college campus like USC. I can remember the days when I could stroll onto the USC campus and walk over to the statue of Tommy Trojan where College Republicans had erected a platform for a rally to support our troops in Afghanistan after 9/11 at which I was to speak. Now, however, I can’t set foot on this campus – or any campus – without being accompanied by a personal bodyguard and a battalion of armed campus security police to protect me and my student hosts.” He said this while protected by a bodyguard and twelve armed campus security officers.
We post fairly frequently on free speech issues; in fact, we have a category devoted to it. This victory of Joe Kaufman’s is important but not necessarily final. I wouldn’t put it past the Muslim groups to appeal to the Supreme Court — there’s usually plenty of money available for such things among Muslim groups — but I doubt the high court would take the case. It would cost Joe Kaufman and FrontPage Magazine more money to respond, and they’re not as flush with funds (not having Saudi Arabia in their corner), so the Muslims might keep it going just to harass them.
And as Robert Spencer points out, this won’t stop the Muslim organizations from bringing more cases in the future.