Censorship

Pennsylvania So Mad at Mumia Abu-Jamal It Just Outlawed Offenders' Free Speech

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The government doesn't get to decide who gets to be famous or why.
Prison Radio / photo on flickr

Let us not wade into an argument as to whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is a cop-killer or a victim of a corrupt justice system. Actually, go ahead and wade into the argument if you like. Whether Abu-Jamal is innocent is not actually relevant to this blog post, but the argument surrounding it certainly is.

Pennsylvannia, the state in which Abu-Jamal was born and where his crime took place, passed a law this week that essentially declared that those convicted of crimes no longer have free speech. That is not the stated intent of the law (it never is), but it's absurdly clear it is what has happened. This week Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law a bill that allows victims of crime to go to a judge and stop a convicted criminal from engaging in any "conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of crime on the victim."

What could that possibly mean? It has to do with Abu-Jamal giving a pre-recorded commencement speech to graduates at Goddard College in Vermont. This apparently shocked the conscience of Pennsylvania's legislature and Maureen Faulkner, the widow of slain officer Daniel Faulkner. So they've introduced a victim's veto. If you've been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, you can't say or do anything that makes the victim or victims feel "a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish."

The wording of the law is vague—but makes sure to note that redress involves collecting "reasonable attorney fees and other costs associated with the litigation." Does it mean that a convicted person who continues to protest his innocence in media interviews is breaking the law? The law criminalizes conduct, not just speech. Would asking the Innocence Project for help with your case violate the law? Would doing anything outside of the standard appeals process "perpetuate the continuing effect of the crime"?

The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is not impressed:

"This bill is written so broadly that it is unclear what behavior is prohibited," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "Essentially, any action by an inmate or former offender that could cause 'mental anguish' could be banned by a judge.

"That can't pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment."

They note that that the bill could also put the kibosh on efforts by imprisoned criminals to engage in political advocacy and criminal justice reform, which I suspect is a feature, not a bug. The state's victim advocate, Jennifer Storm, nevertheless insists, "We're not limiting one's free speech. That is not what this bill is about." That is literally what you are doing. This law was passed for the expressed purpose of censoring criminals.

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  1. Look, just impose a huge fine payable to the victim – the more royalties or speaking fees the convict gets, the better able he’ll be to pay the fine.

  2. Jesus Christ – I just can’t deal with this on a Friday. Fuck everyone, everywhere.

    *walks off*

    1. Goddammit I hate the whole ‘Free Mummia’ movement.

      But I hate the arguments about it even more.

      *walks off with Almanian*

      1. I hate the whole ‘Free Mummia’ movement.

        Then come on over to the “Fry Mumia” movement!

        1. Hell. I’ve moved on to the “Fry Ed Asner” movement.

          1. Would you like that regular, or extra- crispy?

  3. ” It has to do with Abu-Jamal giving a pre-recorded commencement speech to graduates at Goddard College in Vermont.”

    Wait, Pennsylvania is claiming the authority to restrict speech in Vermont?

    1. Well, he recorded it in PA.

    2. EVERYONE has authority to restrict speech in Vermont.

      Pennsylvania, North Korea, Beyonce – everyone.
      It’s in the constitution.


  4. A photo taken by Joe Piette
    rather nicely showcases all the rich, white, conservative types who abhor anything that rattles law enforcement…

    1. What’s with the “white”? Wouldn’t some other races (eg, Asians) be sympathetic to cops, too?

        1. El Correcto…

      1. Did you look at the picture?

        1. Yeah, but honky-bashing is something I find annoying.

          1. As a honky I have no problems bashing crackers who suck.

            1. Of course, and if there’s disproportionately higher social problems among whites than other races, by all means discuss it.

              My problem is stereotyping which goes beyond the evidence. And I think that other races (not black people, of course) have trust levels in police comparable to those of whites.

        2. Of 16 visible people in the picture it looks like 3, or 18.8%, are black.

          1. So, greater representation than their percent of the population?

          2. But 100% are fat.

          3. Standing in the back, mostly obscured.

            I guess I needed to look at it more carefully too.

            I just thought it was a funny comment because the people prominently pictured do look like the caricature of old, fat, white conservatives.

  5. If the state can lock you in a cage for the rest of your life, they can tell you that you can’t write books or give commencement speeches. If it is the case that Jamal is innocent, then the problem is that he is in prison at all. If he is guilty, then fuck him he is a murderer and deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life and shouldn’t be out giving speeches and writing books.

    Some of the hills Reason chooses to die on just fucking amaze me. All of the problems in the world and Reason has decided to spend even a moment worrying that convicted murderers might not be able to give public speeches. Amazing.

    1. I’d say slap a huge fine of them that they might be able to pay if they have book royalties and speaking fees. That should take some of the sting out of their exercising 1st Amendment rights.

      Win/win.

      1. I don’t care one way or another. If you go out and murder someone and the state proves it, your ass belongs to the state, within the limits of humanity. I don’t think the state should torture you or let you be victimized in prison and such. But the state sure as hell doesn’t owe you writing books and capitalizing on your notoriety.

        Assume for a moment Jamal is guilty. The guy he murdered wasn’t his only victim. That guy had a family and loved ones who were victimized too. Part of putting him in prison is to do justice for those people. Letting him run around and give speeches and be a folk hero to the pig ignorant left is not exactly consistent with doing that just in my opinion.

        1. This law doesn’t say “prisoners” and it doesn’t say “murderers.” It says “offenders” and it isn’t limited to the duration of any imprisonment.

          1. Then that portion of the law is probably unconstitutional. More importantly, since the law is wrong because it applies to people outside of prison, Jamal, since he is in prison, isn’t the case to highlight here. The law is a bad law because of how it effects people other than Jamal. They just need to write the law to just apply to people while they are in prison.

          2. And that’s the crux of the whole situation. I’m fine with restricting certain rights of people who are in prison(hell, that’s what prison is). But they have no authority to do so once he leaves.

            On a side note, I’m certain he is guilty if for no other reason than he was a hero to Rage Against the Machine. They don’t idolize anyone who isn’t a murderer. Still liked their music though.

            1. Didn’t RATM idolize the (clearly innocent) West Memphis Three though? Or am I thinking of another similar group?

              1. Don’t remember. I know Henry Rollins and some other punk acts did though.

            2. I liked their music up until Zach started screeching.

              1. I don’t mind it so much because I just think of it as comedy.

                1. And I don’t like them any more with Chris Cornell’s moaning.

    2. Slopes are slippery. It’s not a huge step from this to saying that Tommy Chong can never speak in favor of legalizing dope because he’s a convicted felon. Fuck Mumia and everything, but this is a dangerous road to go down.

      1. There isn’t a slope here. There is a bright line. And the line is whether you are in prison or not. Once you are out of jail and have paid your debt, then you should be able to say and do anything you want. But while you are in prison, then too fucking bad.

        If this law applies to when people get out of prison, then that part of it is wrong. But as it applies to Jamal, it is just fine.

        1. But innocent people get sent to prison. We know this. If those people aren’t allowed to speak out on their own behalf, then a further injustice has been done.

          Yes, you can draw a bright line there, but I still can’t accept the restrictions on speech that might be necessary for justice to be done. I say let them say what they will and if they make any money off of it, give it to their victims.

          1. This is a good point. I find it fairly appalling that he’s not only speaking out in his defense, but that he’s being given a commencement speech to do it in. His story just isn’t that credible. There is a reason why he’s still in jail and his convictions havn’t been overturned.

      2. Is Tommy Chong actually in prison at this moment? Is he still serving his sentence?

    3. Just so we’re clear, you’re OK with the government regulating speech to protect someone’s feelings.

      1. No. I am okay with the government telling people who are in prison to shut the fuck up if they feel like it. Don’t conflate this with regulation of people’s speech not in prison. Again, if they can lock you up, I don’t see why they can’t tell you whether you can write a book or not while you are there.

        1. I am okay with the government telling people who are in prison to shut the fuck up

          Then perhaps you should read the statute.

          (A) ACTION.–IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER RIGHT OF ACTION AND
          ANY OTHER REMEDY PROVIDED BY LAW, A VICTIM OF A PERSONAL INJURY
          CRIME MAY BRING A CIVIL ACTION AGAINST AN OFFENDER IN ANY COURT
          OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION TO OBTAIN INJUNCTIVE AND OTHER
          APPROPRIATE RELIEF, INCLUDING REASONABLE ATTORNEY FEES AND OTHER
          COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE LITIGATION, FOR CONDUCT WHICH
          PERPETUATES THE CONTINUING EFFECT OF THE CRIME ON THE VICTIM.

          (B) REDRESS ON BEHALF OF VICTIM.–THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF
          THE COUNTY IN WHICH A PERSONAL INJURY CRIME TOOK PLACE OR THE
          ATTORNEY GENERAL, AFTER CONSULTING WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY,
          MAY INSTITUTE A CIVIL ACTION AGAINST AN OFFENDER FOR INJUNCTIVE
          OR OTHER APPROPRIATE RELIEF FOR CONDUCT WHICH PERPETUATES THE
          20130SB0508PN2354 – 2 –

          1. 30CONTINUING EFFECT OF THE CRIME ON THE VICTIM.
            (C) INJUNCTIVE RELIEF.–UPON A SHOWING OF CAUSE FOR THE
            ISSUANCE OF INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, A COURT MAY ISSUE SPECIAL,
            PRELIMINARY, PERMANENT OR ANY OTHER INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AS MAY BE
            APPROPRIATE UNDER THIS SECTION.
            (D) DEFINITION.–AS USED IN THIS SECTION, THE TERM “CONDUCT
            WHICH PERPETUATES THE CONTINUING EFFECT OF THE CRIME ON THE
            VICTIM” INCLUDES CONDUCT WHICH CAUSES A TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT
            STATE OF MENTAL ANGUISH.

            And even if your version were what they enacted, does the act of pursuing one’s innocence fall under creating mental anguish for the victim?

    4. Because it’s a slam dunk that this law will be used to restrict the speech of more sympathetic cases in the future. And when that happens, future Nick Gillespie will point to this article and rub some lefty’s nose in it. And for that alone, it’s worth it.

      1. Again, if the person is in prison, tough shit. They can write a book when they get out. Moreover, if they are “sympathetic” the problem is that perhaps they shouldn’t be in prison at all not that they can’t write a book. If you think Jamal is innocent, you should be screaming for him to get out of jail not worrying about his or other convicted prisoners serving time’s ability to give speeches to colleges.

        1. Did you even read the article?

          The ability of somebody like Abu-Jamal to write a book or give a speech isn’t the fucking point here. The point is that this law is so horribly written that it can (and lets be honest; we know it will) be used to restrict any kind of speech from people who have been convicted of crimes, including professions of innocence, advocacy, and the like.

          1. Yes. That is the problem. Of course that problem has nothing to do with Jamal. So why bring him into it?

            1. The law is obviously in response to the Jamal speech.

            2. Because this law never comes into being without all the outrage the proposed speech by Abu-Jamal caused.

              And it’s typical of government to respond to a small incident with a wide-ranging idiotic law, as seen here.

              1. And it’s typical of government to respond to a small incident with a wide-ranging idiotic law

                That’s by design. Using public outrage and fear to seize more power for themselves.

      2. Worth it until future-Joan Walsh or future-Ezra Klein ignores that evidence and continues to write articles asking why libertarians have been silent on the restriction of convicts’ speech.

    5. Whatever the case is with Abu-Jamal, innocent people do get sent to prison and innocent people have been executed. I think that is reason enough why prisoners should be allowed to speak. There are plenty of laws that don’t allow for them to profit from accounts of their crimes, and I don’t have a problem with that. But even after conviction, people should have the right to proclaim their innocence.
      If we had a perfect justice system that never got anything wrong and only things that should be crimes were considered crimes, sure, fuck ’em. But that is not the case and never will be.

      Mumia might not be the best poster child, but I think that complaining about this law as a violation of free speech is legitimate. And it is hardly picking a hill to die on to throw up a quick comment on a new law on a blog.

      1. They should absolutely be allowed to proclaim their innocence, to their lawyer and to the courts that deal with those issues. Vermont college graduates have no role in determining this man’s guilt or innocence.

        1. Why not to the general public, or anyone who will listen? What if the courts won’t listen?
          It sucks to be the victim of a crime, but I think that the rights of even convicts are more important than the feelings of crime victims.

      2. You have a constitutional right to demand relief for your case. So, yes even people in prison should be able to proclaim their innocence. That is one exception to the rule. That said, that right doesn’t give you the right to do everything.

        1. The first amendment doesn’t spell out any exceptions. Do you think people should be allowed to practice their religions in prison?

          Prison is probably a necessary thing, but it is also an inherently horrible thing. And of course people’s rights must be restricted when they are imprisoned. But I think that they should only be able to be restricted to the extent necessary to keep prisons manageable and reasonably orderly. But I’m a lot less into retribution than a lot of people seem to be.

          1. If you refuse any and all limitations to the freedom of speech you can’t have a functioning society; you’d have rampant fraud, perjury, death threats, an inability for anyone to effectively speak on public property, etc. Clearly the framers either did not intend it to be taken absolutely literally or their concept of “freedom of speech” already included the long-standing limitations present in the common law.

            1. Fraud, assault, perjury are all clearly defined things that are not considered part of free speech. I’m not sure what you mean about “an inability for anyone to effectively speak on public property”.
              Obviously the first amendment isn’t meant to allow anyone to say anything in any context. But the allowable limitations are well established and pretty clear and involve things that go beyond just speech like depriving people of their money, breaking an oath or using the threat of force to intimidate people. Restricting speech that isn’t any of those things you listed is a whole different thing.

              1. Fraud, threats, and perjury are all speech acts. They are “not free” solely because we have laws against them.

                You can speak in ways that deprive people of money all day and not commit fraud, you can make and break oaths anywhere you want except on the witness stand in a courtroom in a way that affects the case. I don’t think the cutoff between restrictable and nonrestrictable speech is that clean.

                1. Well, I think it is. Though people have been arguing about it for a long time, so I’m not saying you are a terrible person for disagreeing.
                  I think that there are good arguments that the kinds of speech that can be punished violate the NAP and other people’s rights. That’s why I do favor laws against fraud and serious threatening, but not laws that regulate people speaking in public. You have a right to speak, not a right to be heard.
                  Show me how allowing prisoners to make speeches and write things that get published violates someone’s rights and we can talk. And I don’t buy that a victim’s feelings being hurt is a violation of their rights.

                  1. It blunts the ability of the state to punish criminals. Consequent to the NAP is the idea that the coercive response to aggression must be allowed to be effective.

                    1. I guess I just don’t see how it makes the punishment any less effective. And as I have said, I don’t object to laws that forbid prisoners from profiting from accounts of their crime or other related speech.
                      I’m also not so into the retributive aspect of prison. I think that prison is justified only to keep people who are truly dangerous from hurting people.

                    2. So Bernie Madoff shouldn’t have gone to prison?

                      He wasn’t violent and nobody’s going to invest with him anymore, so there’s no way for him to hurt people.

                      You’re ignoring the deterrent aspect of prison.

                    3. You’re ignoring the deterrent aspect of prison.

                      The deterrent aspect of prison is a side-effect, it should never be upheld as the purpose.

      3. But what evidence is there that this statute is even supposed to restrict speech, let alone that kind of speech? Looks to me like this is just a ridiculous appl’n of a law that was never intended to have such an effect.

    6. I agree with your main point, but this law does not only apply to those cases. It’s not limited to those in prison, and is entirely subjective in the matter of what conduct qualifies.

      I would totally be in favor of a law barring any prisoner serving a sentence for a violent crime from giving speeches remotely or accepting any honor from any person or group of people, but that ain’t what this is.

    7. *Some of the hills Reason chooses to die on just fucking amaze me. All of the problems in the world and Reason has decided to spend even a moment worrying that convicted murderers might not be able to give public speeches. Amazing.*

      Mumia is a cop-killer, therefore he is a hero on the highest order to Reason.com, which detests all cops, everywhere.

      1. That’s some nice derp.

        I can only speak for myself. But while I do generally detest cops as a class, I still am not in favor of killing them except in self defense and think that those who do ought to be punished.

      2. Yeah, in fairness to Reason, they’ve never supported people who killed cops intentionally or knowingly. Ryan Fredericks and Cory Maye, of course, didn’t realize the people busting into their place in the middle of the night were cops.

      3. Tuuuuuuuulllllllllpaaaaaaaaaaa…….

  6. People convicted of certain crimes are already stripped of their right to vote and to defend their lives with a firearm. Why not strip them of their freedom of speech as well? Might as well take away their 4A rights too. And quarter soldiers in their homes while we’re at it.

    1. There are strong public safety reasons to keep those with a demonstrated proclivity for violent crime from having firearms. (yes, I know this won’t work completely because they can obtain them on the black market, but at least we can make it risky for them to have firearms)

      Voting isn’t in the Bill of Rights, or anywhere in the constitution either. They’re just not allowed to discriminate against protected classes or levy poll taxes.

      1. If they’re so dangerous they can’t be trusted with a firearm they shouldn’t be trusted with a car either (the latter being the by-far-and-above winner in the foot-pounds and displacement department) and should still be in prison.

        How are governments “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” or holding elections without voting?

        1. So you want to put more people in prison? Because that’s what the effect of that rule would be.

          Cars are a little harder to conceal and bring into buildings and easier to avoid, too. If they’re more useful as weapons than guns, there’s no need for you to pack a pistol when you’re driving.

          Black-and-white thinking makes Baby Pumpkin King cry. Embrace the grayscale.

          1. No, because not every felony is a violent crime.

            1. Huh? That’s nowhere in the comment I was responding to.

              1. apologies I misplaced my comment.

          2. Your sarcasm detector needs to be recalibrated. I hope it’s still under warranty.

          3. I contend there would on net be one hell of a lot less people in prison if the only people in there were guilty of violent/property crime instead of the hordes of drug law/other consensual crime violators.

            Cars aren’t more useful weapons as guns, but are still extremely dangerous in the hands of somebody who intends to do others harm.

      2. There are strong public safety reasons to keep those with a demonstrated proclivity for violent crime from having firearms

        I understand the argument, and if felonies were limited to violent offenses I might even agree. I say might because even felons should be allowed to defend themselves. The problem is that once a felony conviction can be used to strip people of their rights, those who want to strip people of their rights will work to make everything a felony.

        1. I agree that only serious crimes of violence or the threat thereof should qualify for loss of gun rights (along with severe and potentially dangerous mental illness).

          However, there are other bad consequences of felony drift, so we should focus our efforts on stopping that directly. I know it’s not easy, but eternal virgilance is the price of freedom.

          1. I agree that only serious crimes of violence or the threat thereof should qualify for loss of gun rights (along with severe and potentially dangerous mental illness).

            I said “might.” So we’re not in agreement.

            Like felony drift, once the power to strip people of their rights is established, it will be abused. All power will be abused, which is why power should be limited.

            The thing about stripping people of their gun rights for being mentally ill is that that leaves the door open for expanding the definition of mentally ill. Why not label your political opponents to be mentally ill? Then you can disarm them and do what you want to them.

            1. All power will be abused, which is why power should be limited.

              Sounds great; how do you plan on limiting power in practice?

              Demanding a position that 90% or more of the populace is going to disagree with you on, or else you take your ball and go home, is not going to help. Indeed it makes the statists stronger because they can define themselves in opposition to you.

              1. Sounds great; how do you plan on limiting power in practice?

                You could try creating a document that gives enumerated powers to the government, leaving everything else to the people.

                Oh.

                Dang.

                1. Yeah, that document is doing a bang-up job limiting power from its argon-filled display case at 700 Pennsylvania Ave.

                  1. It’s quite the conundrum. As a general rule, people seek power so they can wield it. Not so they can limit it. Those who give lip service to limiting government do not do so because that means someone losing their job or their benefit, and that is political suicide. So I really don’t know how to limit government.

                    Perhaps a system as described in a Heinlein novel where one house passes legislation with a two thirds vote, and the other house repeals legislation with a one third vote. That way something better be important to be passed, and if something is unpopular it can be easily repealed.

                    Not that that will ever happen.

                    1. What we need is a Bureau of Sabotage. I know at least one other frequent commenter knows what I am talking about.

                    2. So I really don’t know how to limit government.

                      Ultimately, there is no system that guarantees that government will be limited other than revolt. Every government accretes power to itself over time. Eventually, every government becomes too powerful.

                    3. Yes. And it is pretty rare for revolts to actually result in more limited government.

                    4. The US government is still very limited from a global and historical POV, even after 225 years.

                      We all like to piss and moan about the excesses of our govt, until we read a story about how some prime minister in a Europey country got a bug in his ear on some issue one day and a law passed by majority vote of the House of Commons (or equivalent), that would be struck down as grossly unconstitutional here in America, and would never have made it through our multi-stage legislative process (which many in the rest of the world and here laugh at because it “prevents things from getting done”).

                    5. But how do you enforce Heinlein’s rule?

                      Words and ideas don’t limit power. All that limits power is incompetence, natural and technological limitations, and other power. You can’t depend on incompetence and can’t engineer technological limitations, so the only knob we can turn is the other power. There is power in the people, but you’re never going to harness that if you practice rigid adherence to dogma and ideology. You can be pro-liberty in general while making a few compromises that keep society working and appeal to the masses.

                    6. You can be pro-liberty in general while making a few compromises that keep society working and appeal to the masses.

                      “In any compromise with evil, only evil profits.” – Ayn Rand

      3. If the person served his time for a crime than he should have his rights restored. If you don’t believe that person shouldn’t have his rights restored than maybe you should be arguing that his time should be longer.

        1. Again, you want to put more people in prison for longer? That’s not a pro-liberty position, is it?

          1. why are you obfuscating my point? are you that stupid you can’t understand a basic point. Show me where I stated I’m for more people in prison? Oh wait I didn’t.

            1. You said that, unless I think a person with a history of using guns to commit crimes should be allowed to carry guns wherever he goes, I must therefore support keeping him in prison forever.

              1. And no I’m not misstating your position at all. You think he should be allowed to carry guns wherever he wants, and are refusing to allow me to think he should be allowed out of prison with small restrictions on his right, forcing me to think he should be in prison forever.

              2. Well if you don’t trust that person to be part of civil society enough to give him his full rights back why the fuck would you let him out? Isn’t that kind of dumb?

                1. There are levels of trust. The gun restrictions are aimed at minimizing the damage he can do if he goes back to his old ways. I don’t want to keep people locked up in cages just because there’s a possibility they might hurt someone on the outside.

                  1. I don’t want to keep people locked up in cages just because there’s a possibility they might hurt someone on the outside.

                    Give them a badge!

                  2. Gun laws/restrictions aren’t going to stop someone committed to breaking the law from breaking the law or getting a gun.

                    1. Yes, but it does make it more risky for them to do so.

                      Under the Reason regime, a triple murderer who gets pulled over carrying 7 rifles and 14 hand guns in his car has nothing to worry about.

                    2. In sarc’s regime a triple murderer would hang from a rope.

                    3. Under the Reason regime, a triple murderer who gets pulled over carrying 7 rifles and 14 hand guns in his car has nothing to worry about.

                      Where has Reason advocated for the repeal of laws against murder? Where has Reason argued that murders are punished too harshly?

                      Unless you are the Highlander, you are not going to see the light of freedom again if you are convicted on 3 counts of murder, and your gun rights will be the least of your worries.

      4. Well, there is the 26th amendment. But it just forbids restrictions based on age for people over 18.

      5. Voting absolutely is in the Constitution.

        Hint: Ammendments to the Constitution, once ratified, are, for all intents and purposes, part of the Constitution.

  7. Corbett probably assumes it’s going to be struck down, and definitely can’t afford to veto that kind of human-interest legislation two weeks before the election.

  8. Our next Constitution needs to spell out the death penalty for anyone sponsoring or signing unconstitutional legislation.

  9. Here in Pennsylvania the governor just signed a bill giving individuals and organization standing to sue municipalities over firearms ordinances that are illegal under state law.

    This should not be a surprise, but our local Democrats are such craven dipshits that they are all upset that these local laws, which never did a thing because they are illegal, can now be struck down.

    And our Republicans are the ones running this ludicrous, $1.5M/week manhunt in the Poconos. Creating a lot of people newly suspicious of the police up there, though.

    1. The manhunt is necessary. The guy’s a crazy police assassin running around in a rural tourist area full of widely scattered homes. He need’s killin’.

      1. Right, cause those rural hicks have nothing to fear from an armed murderer who knows he’s going to the gallows as soon as anyone finds him.

        1. By this justification, we might as well turn our entire paychecks over to the police, lest that not have enough money to ensure every little snowflake is getting the proper amount of protection.

  10. Let us not wade into an argument as to whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is a cop-killer or a victim of a corrupt justice system.

    Come on, Scott. You don’t seriously believe our resident culture war hate squads are going to pass that by, do you?

    1. If there were any real doubt about Mumia’s guilt, Reason would not even be allowing for the possibility he was guilty.

      1. If there were any real doubt about Mumia’s guilt, Reason would not even be allowing for the possibility he was guilty.

        That is how the law works, yes.

  11. Stop posting that glamor pic of him, please. He’s older and fatter and less of a college poly-sci heartthrob now.

    View from the hill: The bill was a hasty product drafted quickly for political reasons. Nobody here expects it to survive a court challenge. Gov. Corbett needed a populist win because he’s so far behind the Democratic challenger. So untwist you knickers.

    1. So it’s okay for government to pass an idiotic, blatantly unconstitutional law because the governor needs a political victory?

      1. Not OK, but not as bad as it would seem. Corbett has been liberty-positive on the whole, so I won’t damn him for this meaningless exercise, even though he’s dead in the water electorally anyway.

  12. Goddard college is a weird place. I had a friend who went there briefly and the on campus program (which I think they have since gotten rid of) seemed to be little more than about 50 young adults living in cabins in rural Vermont doing lots of drugs and breaking stuff. And they were really into freeing Mumia then too.

  13. “Would doing anything outside of the standard appeals process “perpetuate the continuing effect of the crime”?

    As I read it, the law does not exempt any action or speech whatsoever. It is completely subjective, determined by the word of the victim. Why would the standard appeals process be exempted?

    Also, John, did your handle get hijacked? Or did you get in a wreck and now you are on some kickass painkillers? Drinking?

    1. I believe the judge makes the determination of whether the victim’s claim is true, but yes, it is a very badly written law.

  14. Would Mumia even still be in jail if he hadn’t been convicted of killing a cop?

    Would they be spending a million dollars a week looking for Frein if he hadn’t killed a cop?

    But there’s no double standard. dunphy told me so.

    1. If people get the idea that cops can’t even protect themselves, then all confidence and hope in society will be lost. There’s a reason why horror movies usually start with a cop getting killed by the monster/murderer — it’s a very unsettling thing.

      1. You can’t even imagine the amount of shits I don’t give. The lack of confidence people feel about the police is entirely their fault.

      2. You can indulge your fantasy of being a child in need of a parent to protect him on your own dime.

  15. This is very confusing. If I go by the plain meaning of the statute, it looks like it means if you’re convicted of theft, you’re not allowed to keep the stolen goods…stuff like that. I don’t see what making speeches has to do with an effect of crime, so I doubt that’s what the intent of the statute was. Any idea what it was really about?

  16. It has to do with Abu-Jamal giving a pre-recorded commencement speech to graduates at Goddard College in Vermont.

    Holy God. I had no idea that the “Free Mumia” bullshit had that kind of mainstream acceptance.
    Jesus Fuck. This has to be the fourth horseman.

  17. Every recent election Mumia comes up with those claiming to represent law and order. Instead of responding after a possible national Revictimization Relief Act comes up let’s finally take the Mumia abu Jamal saga seriously other than his drooling admirers, and those that want to use him in an attempt to create a totally orderly world. We only get the prosecutorial story. The feds were closing in on Philly corruption and police abuse as Mumia was exposing police brutality. Particularly brutality directed at Move. A badly wounded person running forward to point a gun at someone’s head and then run back to where he was first shot is not plausibility the final bullet was ruled to damaged to tell what gun it came from. Why does Mumia and his brother have so little to say on what happened. I knew Mumia when he was a calm articular spokesperson against police abuse. And the Move back-to-nature sect thought civilization and locking another being up was a perversion of nature and they kept getting assaulted and accused of assaulting an office every time they explained themselves.

    1. Mumia began growing dreadlocks and started using epetates. He, as he was escorted from one cell to another, would yell a claim that a police officer’s life was sacrificed to shut John Africa’s truths out. The article on the police storming Mumia’s mother’s public housing high-rise apartment and undeed all the Philadelphia Tribune, Bulletin and Inquirer articles of the 80’s are missing. Looking hard for them and demanding why would cool a lot of law and order self-righteousness. Mumia’s articulate articles on police abuse were silenced. Officer Daniel Faulkner’s testimony against corruption was silenced. Now Mumia is just a handy tool to try to create the totally orderly world some crave. Investigators work hard digging at facts and counter facts about Benghazi. Investigating and exposing the facts about Mumia is important unless you agree copying orderly counties like North Korea is is good plan to create a more orderly world,

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