Friendly skies

Earlier this morning, a military helicopter flew so low over the nearby Saudi madrassa that my house shook.

Dang! I wish that happened more often.

The nice thing about having military helicopters flying over the madrassas is that the latter can't sue the military because of sovereign immunity.

Not so in the case of private citizens, who are finding themselves the victims of well-funded lawsuits simply for asking basic questions about Saudi madrassas in their neighborhoods. Writing for Pajamas Media, Martin Solomon has a comprehensive report about a terrible situation in Boston, in which neighbors (beginning with a local Muslim who was outraged to see hate-filled anti-Semitic propganda in "both the religious lesson and the Arabic newsletters inside the mosque") began to ask questions and organize themselves. This is America where cities have such rights, right?

Not really:

...there is and was enough known about the financing and characters involved at the highest levels of the Islamic Society of Boston that a reasonable man acting prudently would be compelled to look closer at this group, their connections, and their financing.

And that's just what was done. And when those reasonable people found themselves disturbed by what they had found and began speaking out about it, they found themselves silenced by a lawsuit, their personal lives violated by subpoenas and their private emails exposed to the world.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I wrote a number of posts about the Saudi madrassa, which upset the neighbors for a variety of reasons and attracted national attention (especially because of the presence there of Al Qaeda associate Mazen Mokhtar). What bothered me the most was the way local officials bent over backwards to accommodate the madrassa and granted its request for special exceptions despite a history of non-compliance with local zoning ordinances, yet a local Christian church which did the same thing had its request turned down.

I can't remember the last time I read about a church suing neighbors for asking questions and opposing their plans. These lawsuits are an attempt at intimidation, and they remind me of the lawsuit filed by the flying imams. (When I first wrote about them, they hadn't sued the witnesses.)

Damn! This post was rudely interrupted by a power failure! Because of my battery backup I was able save what I had written in a word file, but I lost my train of thought. (I was getting ready to drive to a WiFi spot, but fortunately the power was restored within an hour.)

Oh, yeah, I was going to say something about my experience with a lawsuit against United Airlines in which I ended up having to fly across the country as a witness. But it's really not relevant.

Or is it?

The answer may be in the skies.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I would have said that I envy the military helicopter pilots, but I suppose that what's satire for me might be considered slander by suicide-sympathizing Saudi Salafists.

posted by Eric on 05.17.07 at 11:41 AM


I read through the article to which you link and there's a lot of material here and we have to be careful in our analysis. First off, much of the article is dedicated to demonstrating that the ISB is a front for politically bad activities. I think he makes a good case. But it's a free country and if people want to say evil, nasty things, they have that right. If they want to support terrorism, of course, that's another thing entirely.

But I am bothered by the complaint about their suing their critics. This is a free country, and anybody can sue anybody for anything. Yep, lots of lawsuits are frivolous, unfair, or meant solely to intimidate. But it seems to me that the ISB has blundered here. They've expanded the suit to include a great many people, which means that those people can pool their resources to put up a strong legal defense. Yes, they've used discovery aggressively, but as the article points out, discovery is a two-edged sword, and since the issue in question is defamation, almost everything they have said, done, or written is subject to discovery. A lot of dirt will come tumbling out. Most important, though, is the fact that the prevailing party can collect court costs -- which could well be enormous. Defamation cases are extremely difficult to win. The odds are high that ISB will lose this suit, have all its dirty laundry exposed, and end up paying millions in legal fees to the other side.

Froblyx   ·  May 17, 2007 12:07 PM

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