Southeast Tennessee U.S. Attorney Bill Killian and an FBI agent
will speak at an American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee
event in what he describes as "an educational effort with civil
rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising
freedom of religion."
A Politico blogger suggests his comments to the Tullahoma
News on the event - including a remark that "everybody needs to
understand" internet postings can violate federal civil rights
laws - translate into "vowing to use federal civil rights
statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech
An excerpt from the Tullahoma News story:
Killian said the presentation will also focus on Muslim
culture and how, that although terrorist acts have been
committed by some in the faith, they are no different from those
in other religions.
He referred to the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing in which
Timothy McVeigh, an American terrorist, detonated a truck bomb
in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,
1995. Commonly referred to as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the
attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800.
...Killian referred to a Facebook posting made by Coffee
County Commissioner Barry West that showed a picture of a man
pointing a double-barreled shotgun at a camera lens with the
caption saying, "How to Wink at a Muslim."
Killian said he and Moore had discussed the issue.
"If a Muslim had posted 'How to Wink at a Christian,' could
you imagine what would have happened?" he said. "We need to
educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long
as we're here, they're going to be protected."
Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are
subject to federal jurisdiction.
"That's what everybody needs to understand," he said.
And from the Politico post:
While threats directed at individuals or small groups can
lead to punishment, First Amendment experts expressed doubt that
the government has any power to stop offensive material about
Islam from circulating.
"He's just wrong," said Floyd Abrams, one of the country's
most respected First Amendment attorneys. "The government may,
indeed, play a useful and entirely constitutional role in urging
people not to engage in speech that amounts to religious
discrimination. But it may not, under the First Amendment,
prevent or punish speech even if it may be viewed as hostile to
"And what it most clearly may not do is to stifle political
or social debate, however rambunctious or offensive some may
think it is," Abrams said.
A conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, accused the
Obama administration of using federal law to specifically
protect Muslims from criticism.