01 December 2015

Is this man a terrorist?

Many people across my Facebook feed are quick to call Christian pastor Josh Feuerstein a terrorist for a video he posted to his Facebook page back in July:

In case the video gets taken down, here's what Feuerstein said:
Planned Parenthood has hunted down millions and millions of little innocent babies, stuck a knife into the uterus, cut them, pulled them out, crushed their skull with forceps, ripped their body apart, sold their tissue, and threw them bleeding into a trash bin.
I say, tonight, we punish Planned Parenthood. I think it’s time that abortion doctors should have to run and hide and be afraid for their life.
This is pretty detestable stuff. But I don't think Feuerstein is a terrorist. In fact, I think his speech is probably protected. Let's review a little history...

In 1966, the NAACP ran meetings in Mississippi to organize protests and boycotts against white-owned businesses. The NAACP "store watchers" wrote down names of blacks who violated these boycotts. Names of boycott violators were read aloud at meetings and published in a local black newspaper. At one meeting, Charles Evers, the Field Secretary of the NAACP, stated: "If we catch any of you going in any of them racist stores, we're gonna break your damn neck."

This was a direct threat aimed by an NAACP official toward specific blacks who had been named, listed, and published as boycott violators. This is a much more direct threat than Feuerstein's video posted above. Yet the Supreme Court found that the store watchers' actions, and Evers' speech, was protected.

Unless speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action, it's protected by the First Amendment. It would be very difficult to argue that a Facebook video (posted last July) meets this standard. The mere advocacy of violence is not enough. No, in my opinion, this is not terrorism. Rather, it's very possible that this is protected speech. And yes, I'd stand up for his right to say these abhorrent things. That doesn't mean I agree with him.
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