Saturday, February 4, 2006

More Islamic Lunacy

All this because of a few sketches of a man that Muslims don't even regard as divine:

Mahmoud Zahar, leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, told the Italian daily Il Giornale the cartoonists should be punished by death. We should have killed all those who offend the Prophet...." he said.

Yes. By all means. Kill, kill, kill. That's all a savage knows. It's what he does best. It's why the Islamic world is still mired in the 6th century.

Michelle Malkin has everything on this lunacy that you could ever want to read or see. As we've said, we don't think the newspapers should have deliberately flipped the world's Muslims the bird, but on the other hand the bloodthirsty reaction by the mindless regiments of Orcs among the Muslim masses shows that they haven't advanced an inch in 1500 years.

If Muslim communities had peacefully made their case, explained why they were offended, even imposed economic boycotts on European goods in their markets to make their point, we would be sympathetic to those who felt, rightly or wrongly, that a good and holy man was being maliciously degraded by outsiders.

But not now. Not after the way members of the religion of peace all around the world are responding. The Danes, Norwegians and the rest simply should not yield to threats and violence. If Muslims are incensed that their prophet is being caricatured they have no one to blame but themselves. It is they, after all, who shout to the world their faithfulness to Muhammed even as they blow innocent people to pieces. How can they expect that any civilized people would respect their religion or their prophet when both of them inspire such barbarity?

It's a good thing for Kanye West that he portrayed himself as the Christ whom Christians revere and not as Muhammed. The difference between Christianity and Islam couldn't be more stark than in the reactions of both to what they perceive as insults.

Meanwhile, in News That Matters

While the news media focusses our attention on such weighty matters as whether or not Samuel Alito belonged to an all-male club two decades ago or the latest self-inflicted embarrassments of Cindy Sheehan, the war in Afghanistan continues to simmer:

Afghan Army and police units, along with the U.S. military are engaged in combat with Taliban forces in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand. The Associated Press states the fighting began after Afghan "police were deployed to the Haji Fateh area to hunt for Taliban rebels" and the Taliban attacked the police forces. Afghan police and Army units poured into the region to engage what is believed to be a force of about 200 Taliban fighters, and U.S. air support, including A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft have been pounding the Taliban positions.

Reuters reports there have been four engagements in the area, and twenty Taliban and three police have been killed in the fighting. According to Mullah Mir, Helmand's deputy provincial governor, "We're sending more reinforcements. The fighting is still going on." The latest report indicates "Two well-known Taliban commanders, Mullah Torjan and Haji Nasru, are among those enemy forces who were killed today [during clashes in Helmand]," along with thirty Taliban fighters. A Taliban spokesman denies their forces took heavy casualties.

Well, the Taliban spokesman may be correct, but it probably depends on his definition of "heavy." If A-10s were employed in the battle the meaning of "heavy" in this context is probably something like "destroyed to the last man," as in, "A Taliban spokesman denies their two hundred man force was completely wiped out by the American Warthogs. A couple of Mujahadeen managed to survive, albeit with severe wounds."

While the fighting continues in Helmand, the Dutch Parliament has approved the deployment of 1,400 troops to neighboring Uruzgan province. The increase in suicide attacks and current fighting have not deterred the Dutch from fulfilling their commitment to NATO. There are fears the 5,500 British troops preparing to deploy to Helmand province may be facing in influx of foreign fighters. Ghulam Dusthaqir, Nimroz's provincial government, states there is a batch coming in from Iraq; "They're linked to al-Qa'eda and fought against US forces in Iraq. They have been ordered to come here. Many are suicide bombers."

It's interesting that al-Qaeda is redeploying fighters from Iraq, where they had to fight against Americans, to Afghanistan to fight against the Dutch and British. Perhaps they think this will allow for a more successful display of their talents. In any event, it suggests a sense on the part of al-Qaeda that Iraq is a lost cause, at least as long as the Americans are there.

Should Blackmail Be Legal?

Blackmail is illegal and for good reasons, right? Well, you may not have ever thought about it, but actually it seems as if there really are few good reasons for making blackmail a crime other than we think it should be. UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy explains why our intuitions on the matter don't have much logical warrant. Here's the basic argument:

1. I am generally free to publish embarrassing information about you - in fact, I generally have the constitutional right to do so. Likewise, I am free to keep quiet about it.

2. I am generally free to ask you for money in exchange for my doing something (here, keeping quiet) that I have no preexisting legal obligation to do. I am also free to ask you to perform some service in exchange for my doing something that I have no preexisting legal obligation to do. I am even free to ask you to cast a vote in exchange for my doing at least some things that I have no preexisting legal obligation to do: For instance, a pro-choice newspaper editor may generally say that he will endorse a politican for reelection if the politician votes against an abortion restriction.

3. But if I ask you for money or a service in exchange for my not revealing embarrassing information about you (and recall that I have no preexisting legal obligation to keep quiet), then that's a crime.

The question is: Why is the combination of 1. and 2. a crime if neither of them alone is a crime?

Volokh, who is a wiz (He got his B.S. in math/computer science from UCLA when he was 15), thinks blackmail should be illegal, but confesses that he doesn't know exactly why. The question arises as a result of a blog post by one Michael Rogers who threatened to out a closeted gay Republican U.S. Senator if he did not vote against the confirmation of Samuel Alito. You can read Volokh's ruminations on this legal conundrum at the link.

For what it's worth, only one Republican voted against Alito. If we hear nothing more about this sordid affair the assumption will be that Rogers' condition was met. Since only one Republican voted the way the blackmailer directed, that senator will be assumed to be the target of the blackmail, and, rightly or wrongly, he will be "outed" even though he voted the way Rogers demanded.

This could be very unfair to that senator because one of the Yay voters may well have been the target, but Rogers might have, for whatever reason, changed his mind about outing him. If Rogers does change his mind, and doesn't publicize the fact that he has changed his mind, then people are likely to wrongly suspect that the lone Nay voter is in fact the closet homosexual.

We wonder if that senator could then sue Rogers for defamation. Or doesn't it constitute defamation anymore to cause people to think that someone is gay?