I've written about a number of threats to the First Amendment in recent years. But few have riled me up as much as a recent letter written by attorney Joseph E. Sandler (email@example.com). Sandler was hired by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) after the organization learned that Robert Spencer was about to give a speech called "The Truth About CAIR" at the National Conservative Student Conference held by the Young America's Foundation (YAF).
Here's what Sandler wrote to my friend Ron Robinson, President of YAF:
"You should be aware that Mr. Spencer, a well-known purveyor of hatred
and bigotry against Muslims, has a history of false and defamatory statements. Several of those statements have falsely accused CAIR of activity that would constitute a federal offense."
After failing to provide a single "false and defamatory" statement by Spencer, Sandler went on to exercise his constitutional right to praise CAIR for its work in fighting terrorism. (Note: This is not to suggest that such praise is in any way deserved, just that it is protected by the First Amendment).
After, a) citing specific evidence in support of the notion that CAIR is an anti-terrorist organization, and b) citing no evidence of false and defamatory statements by Spencer (nor any of the evidence supporting Spencer's contrary opinion), Joseph E. Sandler (firstname.lastname@example.org) made a rather outrageous request that is worth reproducing in its entirety:
"For these reasons, we demand that YAF cancel the subject session (at which Spencer is speaking), or else take steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated at that session. Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal remedy to redress any false and defamatory statements that are
made at the session. Please let us know by the close of business today whether you intend to comply with these requests. Joseph E. Sandler, email@example.com, (202) 479-1111"
This notion of preventing “offense” by forcing people to relinquish their First Amendment Rights is itself offensive. Certainly, when one of my Muslim friends offends me - by forcing his wife to leave the room without speaking as soon as I come over - I just let it go. But maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should start my own organization called CAIRS, The Council Against Islamic Repression and Sexism.
But, for the time being, please join me in the fight against Muslim censors (and the lawyers who love them) by taking the time to do at least one of four things today:
1. Write Joseph E. Sandler (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him to stop helping Muslim extremists wage a Jihad against the First Amendment in the United States of America.
2. Call Joseph E. Sandler (202-479-1111) and tell him to stop helping Muslim extremists wage a Jihad against the First Amendment in the United States of America.
3. Fax a Xerox copy of the First Amendment to Sandler, Reiff & Young at (202) 479-1115.
4. Fax a Xerox copy of your extended middle finger to Sandler, Reiff & Young at (202) 479-1115.
For those of you who follow option #1 or #2, there are a few questions you should ask Mr. Sandler: What exactly are the false and defamatory statements made by Spencer that would justify the prior restraint of free speech? Why not sue over those statements instead of threatening to sue over statements not yet made? And, finally, is it not also defamatory to falsely accuse someone of defamation?I plan to follow option #4. And I also plan to write about this incident in my weekly internet column. That is, unless Mr. Sandler tries to stop me beforehand.