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"Just Sit Down And Shut Up."

Last night, Kim linked to the mouthpiece for CAIR (a named but unindicted co-conspirator in at least one terrorist trial) issuing his veiled threats to those who would report suspected terrorists on airplanes. The debate about the "John Doe" protection act is getting heated.

Several people have questioned the need for such a measure. The act, as originally written, would grant legal immunity from civil lawsuits for those who -- in good faith -- witness "suspicious" behavior on an airliner and report it to officials.

According to CAIR, this law is a bad thing, as it would grant license to bigots and ignoramuses (who, apparently, are a far greater threat to our nation than terrorists -- after all, 9/11 was almost SIX YEARS ago, and that's almost forever) to exercise their prejudices and wage open discrimination and hate against Muslims and any other group they choose.

This is such a load of codswallop that I can not accept the idea that CAIR is simply misguided and misunderstanding the act. This has to be nothing less than an assault on the security of the American people.

Let's take the setting -- an airliner -- out of the equation for a moment. Suppose that you were in a park and spotted someone acting in a very suspicious manner. You were disturbed enough by what you saw to tell a police officer about it. The officer goes over and confronts the person, trying to ascertain whether or not they are, indeed a danger.

If they are not, then there really isn't any harm done. If they are, then you are a hero -- or, at least, a good citizen.

Now let's toss in CAIR's boogeyman, the Dreaded Evil Islamophobe, and play out that same scenario from their perspective. Suppose you saw someone in that park who was obviously a Muslim. (Say, walking with -- that is, a couple steps ahead -- of a woman in a full burkah.) You hate and fear Muslims (a follower of The Religion Of Peace), so you decide to make trouble for that noble Follower Of The Prophet (Peace Be Unto Him) and seek out a police officer and lie to him, saying that you saw him strapping a bomb around himself (the sort of thing that a True Devotee Of Islam would NEVER do). The officer goes over and talks to the Noble Muslim. The officer immediately recognizes that the charges you made were utterly baseless, and sends him on his way to continue doing Allah's work and spreading His word.

The law, in this case, is clear: you are on the hook, legally, for what you did. Technically, you could be charged with giving a false statement to the police.

The distinction here: in the first case, you were acting in good faith. You honestly reported what you perceived, expressing concerns, but not fabricating details. In the second, there was no good faith involved; the reporting to the police was done in malice, not based on actual events, but on your biases and ill will.

And that is the crux of the John Doe law. It protects those who act in good faith -- but does nothing to protect those that CAIR speculates might act.

Of course, sometimes it is hard to determine who is acting in good faith, and who is feigning it. That's why there are structures set up to screen these complaints. They are called "police" and "air marshals" and "airline officials." They are the ones who hear the concerns, evaluate them (and the complainant), and then investigate them.

They are the ones who make the ultimate decision on what is done about these complaints. And it is them -- not the complainant -- who bears the responsibility for whatever actions spring from that initial complaint.

Let's go back to the park. In that case, if the accused is innocent and persecuted, they have legal recourse -- against the police. And the police, if they believe that they were lied to by you, they can pursue charges against you. But the accused can not immediately go after you.

In the airplane case, the complaining passengers are not taking any direct action. They are simply informing the appropriate officials about things that ought to concern them. It is the officials that are responsible for evaluating those complaints (and complainants), and then taking whatever action they believe appropriate.

And the John Doe amendment would not change that in the least. It simply gives formal protection to those who report what they believe -- in good faith -- is suspicious behavior to those who are trained to evaluate such things, and empowered to take appropriate action if they deem it necessary.

In the park case, the accused can sue the police for harassment if the allegations are utterly unfounded. And in an aircraft, the accused can sue the airline if they are mistreated. The John Doe bill would not have changed that one whit.

CAIR's opposition is not motivated by fairness or justice. It is about one thing, and one thing only -- silencing those who might speak up. It is, in spirit, an assault on the passengers of United Flight 93, a whole planeload of "John Does" who acted in good faith on that day and chose to take action.

That is the sort of spirit that must be crushed, if militant Islam and its apologists at CAIR have their way. And that must not be allowed to happen.


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Comments (22)

Making a 'good faith' effor... (Below threshold)

Making a 'good faith' effort under the law is usually a very low threshold to meet, therefore it will be a tough (and expensive) slog for CAIR to make. The law would be better if the loser had to pay all attorneys' fees. That would shut them down dead.

Hey, about a federal law making it illegal to 'test' security systems with phalanxes of imams and cheese blocks with wires sticking out them?

Well argued Jay. But now, ... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Well argued Jay. But now, let me pitch you a gray-area scenario:

Suppose you drive to work along a road that at one point happens to overlook a power plant. In fact, let's say it's a nuclear power plant. There's enough room at this overlook for a couple of cars to pull off the road, and over the years you've gotten used to occasionally seeing a car stopped there, with a person standing at the overlook scanning the area below with binoculars or a telescope on a tripod. However, in every one of those cases it's been a middle-aged or older white man (not always the same one) and you mentally wrote him off as a birdwatcher and went on your way.

Now suppose that one day you're driving to work and see a car pulled over at the overlook and a man scanning the area with his scope -- but this man has a dusky complexion and is wearing a turban.

Call the cops, or not? Good-faith warning, or not?

Wolfwalker, you are making ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Wolfwalker, you are making the same mistake as CAIR is. Suspicious behavior to a good citizen is color blind. There are always some kooks who abuse systems that are set up for help. That does not mean the majority of citizens are guilty. If I see a man hanging around a playground with no children but watching other children, it is my duty to report him. If I see drug deals being operated out of a house on my street, I should and would report them. If I see a group of black kids mug and old lady and beat her, I will report them. I will also have to tell the police their race. There is no gray area. It is either you have the guts to report or not. If you practice good citizenship or not. That in a nutshell is what is wrong with our Country now. Good people don't want to get involved.

JT, excellent post. CAIR is just trying to intimidate people. It won't work, because if I am going to go on a plane and I see suspicious activity, I am either not getting on the plane or I am reporting it. I will report it. Better safe the dead. ww

The last time I saw a large... (Below threshold)
Jay:

The last time I saw a large number of conservatives appear to be so wrong about something they were happily applauding conveniently packaged, convenient Legislation for One.

I have yet to see anything that convinces me this mess is a good thing. It's possible I'm mistaken, but it just seems way too Soviet for us.

We've had this same problem... (Below threshold)

We've had this same problem locally for a long time. Look up "Planespotters" - there's a subgroup of people who watch planes just like some folks watch birds.

The problem occurs when they start watching military aircraft. The local Air Force base has rousted a number of folks who sit and watch aircraft take off and land - including a couple of guys who supposedly spoke no English, had a very nice camera setup with a LONG telephoto lens, had just arrived in the US on 'student' visas but didn't have a school they were going to, and were driving a rental car with no luggage. Never heard the resolution on that one...

Islam is the religion of pe... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Islam is the religion of perpetual indignation. There is a reason for that. It is meant to wear down resistance to whatever efforts they undertake to work within systems to eventually subjugate them.

It's called Taqiya.

islam is a political ideolo... (Below threshold)
BillyBob:

islam is a political ideology incompatible with Western culture. Call it a religion, but it is not.

DO NOT SUBMIT.

"Now suppose that one da... (Below threshold)

"Now suppose that one day you're driving to work and see a car pulled over at the overlook and a man scanning the area with his scope -- but this man has a dusky complexion and is wearing a turban.

"Call the cops, or not? Good-faith warning, or not?"

I've heard this scenario brought up before. Without the knowledge that the person had seen others there exhibiting the same behavior, it would almost certainly be considered "in good faith". But then too, it wouldn't be false information which is considered "in bad faith". Either way, it would merit investigation.

There are indeed people who consider nationality when determining whether activity is suspicious or not. I won't deny that. But I don't think it's been proven to be the norm.

Take into consideration the airline cases. There are far more people thrown off airplanes for suspicious or disruptive behavior who are not overtly Muslim. We just hear about the high profile cases that almost always are blamed on profiling or racism.

I think the proposed law is... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

I think the proposed law is limited to transportation scenarios (as it stands now and subject to change).

I also believe that there is a provision for the loser to pay both sides' costs in a suit.

wolfwalker<blockquote... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

wolfwalker

but this man has a dusky complexion and is wearing a turban.

A turban? It occurs to me that Hindu aren't particularly known for bombing things.


Wolfwalker, let me toss you... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

Wolfwalker, let me toss you another scenario.

Let's say that in an area of a certain country, people of one racial group and skin tone tended to dress up in outfits of all one color (named to match their skin tone) and perpetrate acts of vandalism and violence against members of another skin tone.

Would you say that it is worthwhile to investigate groups of people of this skin tone, wearing this color, heading towards an area where people of the other skin tone tend to live?

Perhaps that's too vague for you, Wolfwalker, so let me put it in terms even a lefty can understand.

Were citizens and cops being unreasonable in looking only for white males when a cross was found burning on an African-American person's lawn in the south during the heyday of the KKK?

wolfwalker,As an emp... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

wolfwalker,
As an employee of a nuclear company, I'd have called plant security and the police on the first guy. Before 9/11.
As for the turban, your own bias is showing.

Wouldn't you just love to s... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Wouldn't you just love to see someone plant a well aimed "Louisville Slugger" just below the nose of I. Hooper everytime he opens his lieing mouth?

"This has to be nothing les... (Below threshold)

"This has to be nothing less than an assault on the security of the American people."

Well, of course it is! Muslims have made the advances they've made in Western countries by intimidation and nothing else: "Give us what we demand or we'll riot / sue / fly an airliner into a skyscraper!" Whenever their ability to inspire fear in non-Muslims is undermined, their power to intimidate is lessened, as is their hope of writing their preferences into our laws.

Do not be fooled by the peaceable behavior of most Muslims in the West. At a sufficient concentration, they turn deadly as reliably as night follows day.

Folks, you prove my point: ... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

Folks, you prove my point: There are no simple answers here. I called it a gray-area case for a reason. Whether or not a given individual is engaged in "suspicious activity" is and always will be a judgement call. And judgement calls will sometimes be wrong. CAIR is clearly exploiting a weakness in the law in order to foment trouble and win a political victory for terrorists -- but that doesn't mean the objection it raises is invalid in all circumstances. There will be cases of innocent people getting unnecessarily pinged, and perhaps even suffering real, legally-recoverable damages as a result. Simplistic, rigid definitions increase the probability of false positives. You do yourselves and your cause a disservice if you claim otherwise.

When you have legal language that works well for the gray-area cases as well as the simple ones like the flying imams, then you'll have a law worth passing. This one wasn't.

C-C-G, you should watch your own biases. It's amusing to see you take one post that attempts simply to raise a point of discussion and conclude I'm a lefty. In fact I'm antitax, pro-gun, pro-business (mostly), against the nanny state, for strong security, foursquare behind the war on terror, and I think that every senior Democrat in Congress should be brought up on charges of high treason, given a drumhead trial and then shot at dawn. Does that sound like the CV of a lefty?

SCSI, the first time I'm sure you would. What about the second time? the third? the tenth? the fiftieth? If every single alert over multiple years turned out to be a false alarm, of course you'd eventually drop your guard a bit. That's only human.

As for those who thought I misused the word "turban" and thereby revealed something dark and evil about my own motives -- some research might be in order.

Ah yes, the always reliable... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Ah yes, the always reliable CCG - today's open mouth and insert foot in mouth event. LOL. You assume and so you make [a] ass of yourself - no surprise that.

Wolfwalker: You brought up... (Below threshold)

Wolfwalker: You brought up a "gray area" situation and while you addressed the "good faith" clause as it pertained to the individual, you neglected to acknowledge that whether or not it was racially motivated on the part of the individual, that particular scenario IS suspicious activity regardless how many people did it beforehand, what color they were or what they were wearing. The good faith clause does not necessarily pertain to the individual's own prejudices as much as whether the claim has merit. It's the false claims that show evidence of prejudice and are meant to cause problems for someone that they're more concerned about. Last time I checked, being prejudiced wasn't a crime. It's when it's found that prejudice is the basis to cause unwarranted trouble for another that we have issues.

What if the reporting individual was indeed overtly prejudiced? Does that mean that the suspicious incident doesn't have merit? I would say the guy is a lout, but I would still be concerned about the behavior of the person reported. How will I know that he saw other people doing this? You're using a third person perspective.

You're going to have to come up with a better scenario.

SCSI, the first ti... (Below threshold)
SCSI, the first time I'm sure you would. What about the second time? the third? the tenth? the fiftieth? If every single alert over multiple years turned out to be a false alarm, of course you'd eventually drop your guard a bit. That's only human.
And by the way, that was a very valid point you brought up and could be a consequence of people becoming desensitized or being afraid to report things.
wolfwalker,If it was... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

wolfwalker,
If it was the same guy, yeah, I would stop calling once it was clear he wasn't trouble. Or if the enforcement types said there was no danger from someone on that overlook.
As for the turbans, the point is that not only muslims wear turbans.
In fact, the very wiki-article you cite says

In Western countries such as the United States, Canada, Europe, etc., men seen wearing turbans in public are likely to be Sikhs, who wear turbans to cover the long uncut hair worn as a sign of their commitment to the Sikh faith.

While the man in your example is using a long cloth for a hat, you clearly prefer your own ass.

Wolfwalker, judgements in e... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Wolfwalker, judgements in everyday life happen all the time. There is no gray area. You either do what YOU think is right or should be done, or not. It cannot get any simpler. ww

Wolfwalker, thanks for the ... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

Wolfwalker, thanks for the ad hominem

Now answer my question. Was it wrong for southern cops to look for white guys when a cross was left burning on an African-American family's front lawn?

Cry me ariver CAIR now sit ... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Cry me ariver CAIR now sit down in that there corner and PIPE DOWN




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