Someone stole a fiberglass Statue of Liberty from Vox Pop (a Brooklyn coffee shop) and beheaded it a la Daniel Pearl. Yes, it’s as shit-headed as it sounds. But that’s not the point.
“The people who did this are deranged and need to be taken off the street,” Ruckel said. “If this isn’t hate speech, I don’t know what it is. They destroyed an important symbol of freedom with the intent of intimidating us. This is terror.”
There are very few things more damaging to basic freedom of speech than confusing vandalism with terrorism. What we feared to be the government’s policy under Bush is a conclusion now reached by street-level idiots. This trend itself is about as dangerous as anything Al Qaeda can throw at us.
There are numerous counter-arguments, of course. First is the fact that it’s blatantly a mock-up of a terrorist video. Second, it is violent rhetoric. Third, it does involve what is actually a crime (vandalism) and the destruction of an American icon (in New York City, no less). These are all the basic arguments that will be used to damn the vandals if they’re found.
My counter: I say the same thing about FOX News. Rampant use of flags to legitimize borderline hate speech; this is the Fox News nominal spread. Also, illegal appropriation of information does cast a certain light on their opinions of the law. If any of the above are considered crimes in and of themselves, I’ll put these Youtube idiots in the dock only after Rupert Murdoch and all of News Corporation manages to distance itself while on a similar budget.
Yes, I realize that attacking Fox News is outright cliche at this point, but in this case it’s important. If this incident goes national, Fox will be brigadier to the lynch mob. If you don’t believe me, two words: flag burning.