My Nickel Done Shrunk


Posted on : 1/08/2013 08:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Perhaps to be subtitled "A Modest Victory Over Procrastination".

A few months ago I posted an item about the arrest of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula; the film maker who produced the noted anti-Islam video.

The short version is that I saw that act as being potentially one of censorship.  The longer version...well we'll get to that in due course.

Nickelshrink was aghast.  Her comments are at the bottom of the post.  If I can correctly summarize her objections, they include:

1) That the actors were in some way deceived about the project. 

2) That the actors lives were put in peril by this deception.  She likened it to someone using a video of me speaking and altering the sound track so that I appeared to say something else.

3) That is was inaccurate to blame Mr. Obama for action taken by local the local sherriff's office.

I was a bit busy at the time for a full response to her response, but it's the holidays, so time we have aplenty.

Generally, I tend to let things sit for a few days...or longer....before posting something.  I like to really know what is going on rather than just accepting the initial narrative as being correct.  While there are a few things about this post that were correct, there were others that needed further clarification.  In hindsight, it would have been better to either wait a bit more, or to come at this issue from a different angle.  Or perhaps skip it altogether.

The larger motivations for the post were twofold.

1) Mr. Obama and his team have long demonstrated an attitude of modest appeasement towards Islamic extremists.  Whether Mr. Nakoula's arrest had anything to do with Mr. Obama or some other federal directive, it is in keeping with the spirit of deference to the thugs that willingly murder anyone that offends their sense of "religion".

This is where that usual "cooling off" period might have come in handy.  I didn't like such rhetorically loose handiwork when aimed at Mr. Bush.  I shouldn't have tried it towards Mr. Obama.

2) Mr. Obama and his team and the media...but I repeat myself...were pushing the narrative that Mr. Nakoula's film caused the riots that caused the deaths at our consulate in Libya.  That is just patently false.  We had intelligence reports about a pending attack in the weeks that preceeded it.  We had received warnings from governments in the regions that our security was in question in the weeks leading up to 9-11-2012.  There is also the fact that the video was posted two months prior to the attack.

It is now apparent...or at least it should be...that the attack on our consulate was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 9-11-2001 attacks.  The terrorist brought heavy weapons with them for the assault on the compound.  Mr. Nakoula's video was obviously being promoted in mosques across the Middle East to provide rhetorical cover for the attacks.  Our terrorist enemies are media savvy even if they are morally repugnant.

This was apparent at the time of the original posting as well.

Now on to responding to the Nickelshrink's criticisms.

I have not seen the video in question.  I have read enough about it to know that it is a pretty shoddy piece of filmwork. 

This piece from the NYTimes suggests that the actors were in full costume while they were being filmed.  It also suggests that the final...and unseen thus far...release of the movie did not contain acting credits as a precaution to protect the actors.

Assuming that these are both correct, then the actors identity could not have been obtained from the film.  Additionally, the actors apparently signed the usual contracts that did not preclude post-production editing.  If the post-production editing was in violation of those contracts, then the appropriate response is in civil court; not criminal charges.

This bit of editing is quite a bit different from somone altering the sound of a video that identifies a random and not contractually bound person so that it appears that the person is saying something other than what they actually said.  Such a change probably falls under libel or other defamation laws.

Assuming the actors contracts did not preclude post-production editing and that they were garbed to prevent being identified, then their lives were not endangered by Mr. Nakoula.

However, that means of production is pretty sketchy, sleasy, skeasy.  So again, a little more time might have been worthwhile in deciding whether or not to present this post.

But the biggest argument against this post has nothing to do with the actors' safety or Mr. Obama and everything to do with Mr. Nakoula.  It is now clear that he was on probation after serving time for felony convictions having to do with bank fraud.  Specifically, he used aliases and computers to defraud banks.  He did a number of other things as well.

Part of the terms of his probation were that he not use aliases and that he not access a computer.

The video trailer was posted to YouTube via an account name that matches one of Mr. Nakoula's prior aliases.  That action, if he did it, certainly makes him eligible for arrest and imprisonment for a probation violation.  Which really undermines the premise of my original post.

Keep in mind the following from the NYTimes article:

On July 2, the trailer was posted on YouTube by someone using the name Sam Bacile. Mr. Nakoula’s son said he was the one who did it.

“My dad is not tech-savvy at all, and does not know how to work social media,” Abanob Nakoula said. “So he asked me to take the initiative to spread the word, and I did my best.”

He explained that using the name Sam Bacile, he created a Facebook account before production started and then the YouTube account.

Abanob Nakoula added, “My dad wanted to show the trailer on TV as a commercial, and I told him that was not going to happen because it costs a lot of money and the networks would not show a 14-minute trailer, especially if they knew the content.”

Something does not add up in the above.  Mr. Nakoula's probation terms specifically forbade his use of computers.  But his son says he is not "tech-savvy at all".  Really?

However, if there is proof that his son actually posted the video, then we could legitimately return to the question of why Mr. Nakoula is currently in prison.  Absent such evidence, he is where he belongs and selecting his story for a post was a poor choice on my part.

I'd like to return for a moment to the larger justification of questioning my original post.  Nickelshrink suggested that the post-production editing process might have made the actors vulnerable to retaliation.  While it appears that Mr. Nakoula had taken reasonable steps to prevent that from happening, this really should not be the focus of discussion.

When the Klan was raging through the American south (and elsewhere, truth be told), did we take steps to mollify them?  Did we self-censor so as not to offend them?  Or did we confront them, criticize them, berate them, and frankly offend them until they have become a non-issue for most minorities as well as the rest of us?

The Klan's aspirations were to become the Christian equivalent Islamic jihadists long before Islamic jihadism was ever known.  Today's jihadists make the Klan of old look like pikers.  Until jihadist reaction to criticisms of Islam become nonviolent, we must continue to present them with contradictory points of view and punish those who respond to that criticism with violence.

This is how the uncivilized become civilized.

In any case, the underlying story for the original post did not support the narrative, regardless of the other valid arguments that may have been present.

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