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The question's been raised on here--is calling for Terry Jones to be held accountable for his numerous financial misdeeds a backhanded way of punishing free speech?  I couldn't disagree more.

For those who don't know, it turns out that Jones has been engaging in a massive intercontinental financial shell game.  Yesterday, I suggested that given the possibility that Jones is engaging in money laundering, it might be a good idea to consider RICO charges against him.

Is this punishing speech by proxy?  Not by a longshot.  The only reason it appears that way rests with Jones alone.  If he hadn't actively solicited support from other churches across the nation for his idiotic enterprise, it's not likely his financial shell game would have even come to light.  However, I believe that to avoid even the appearance of prior restraint, Jones shouldn't be racked up for any financial misdeeds until after Saturday.

About the only justifiable reason to punish Jones BEFORE the burning would be if a terrorist attack took place and it could be conclusively proven the perps were motivated to act by the burning.  And even then that would be stretching it--any yayhoo could make that claim and just be blowing smoke.  But bear in mind--the moment Jones drops a match on the Qurans, there's no longer any prior restraint.  Indeed, based on numerous reports, he'll not only be arrested on the spot, but the city's sending him the bill.

The question also has been asked--why RICO Jones and not the likes of Pat Robertson?  Well, based on Backgr0und N015e's diary, Jones isn't even making a cursory effort to comply with the law.  Robertson, however, might be violating the spirit of the law, but not the letter--and I suspect First Amendment concerns might preclude moving on him without an absolutely ironclad case, given his political connections.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 06:50 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

    If he wants to seek out this level of notoriety, then he shouldn't be surprised when any skeletons in his closet are uncovered.

    Politicians and clelbrities are placed under this type of scrutiny, why not a shiester "holy man"?

  •  At least he's Florida Jones. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Rather than Indiana Jones.

    And, an honestly unhinged winngnut is quite interesting to watch.  

    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

    by Salo on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 07:07:51 AM PDT

  •  While I think he is disgusting and burning the (3+ / 0-)

    Koran is an equally disgusting act, this asshat has a right to do exactly that. What he doesn't have a right to do is launder money or any of the other things you mention.
    When you seek the publicity you desire, by pulling a "stunt" like this you bring all this shit and investigations upon yourself. I think that is where the expression, "clean hands" comes into play.
    If you are to be considered a credible player, you must have "clean hands". It would appear Mr. Jones' is dirty from his stupid mustache to his creepy feet.
    While I can see the dangers posed by his stunt, I still don't think we should be allowing terrorists to threaten us to forfieting any of our Constitutional rights. I heard L.O'Donnell this morning saying,"why do we think if this jerk burns the Koran, it will make the people who already want to kill the troops, want to kill them anymore?" Our Troops are in danger, whether the Koran is burned or not.
    Will it put them in greater danger, possibly. Will it be used as a recruiting tool, definately. Will it insult millions of American Muslims, some serving in the uniform of the U.S., absolutely.
    Will it mean the end of the world, I doubt it.
    To try to stop him with an injunction, or otherwise is not the American way. To try to persuade him to not do this because it is an irresponsible stunt, is perfectallly aceptable. Investigating him and prosecuting him for former crimes is necessary. If he is guilty of any infraction at all, he needs to be held accountable, completely accountable.
    This man is no better than the Dad of Balloon Boy, and perhaps worse. In my opinion, I think the media has given him and his stunt far too much coverage, but that is the out of control media. Appeals for reason, by General Petraus, Hillary Clinton, Sec. Gates and even the President are not out of line, all are concerned about the offense this "stunt" will cause, but I doubt any would go that one step further to stop it. To equate this issue with the Park 51 project is like comparing apples and oranges. One is a peaceful effort and the Koran burning is meant, not only to express free speech, but to incite anger and violence. One has nothing to do with the other, and anyone who tries to equate the two are wrong, dead wrong.

  •  Can't the IRS revoke his church status (0+ / 0-)

    exemption?  Can't the ministry revoke his title of paster? We the people should not financially support someone who stokes terrorists to attack us.

    •  Hard not to imagine the IRS is investigating (0+ / 0-)

      his tax exempt status.  Especially since he has to pay taxes on part of his property for running a for-profit business on it.

      Why does "Pastor" Terry Jones hate America?

      by Christian Dem in NC on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 07:34:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you worked w/ NFPs, you'd be surprised (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if the IRS were investigating.  The IRS EO division is perenially understaffed and rarely initiates itself on its own.  In 6 years of working w/ them, no charity that I or any of my colleagues work with has been audited or even questioned.

      •  Also, during the mayoral election in Gainesville (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Jones and his church actively campaigned against one of the candidates, displaying and distributing "No Homo Mayor" signs. Direct support for or opposition to a specific candidate is about the most clear-cut violation of 501(c)(3) status you can find.

        The schools will probably teach kindergartners to play nice with everyone. — Will Phillips, on how marriage equality would affect education

        by ebohlman on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 09:32:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They could, but there's nothing obviously (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wrong going on.  To the extent it smells a little off, that may not be enough to audit and investigate, given that federal law throws up roadblocks for audits of churches.

      re: diary: your earlier diary presented the following question: "should we shup up his speech w/ the Patriot Act, or with the Rico act."

      That you think there's a plausible case for both (which you think wrongly) doesn't change the obvious motivation at work: stifling speech.

      •  I quickly ruled out using the Patriot Act (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        specifically because of the precedent it would set.  The ONLY way it could be used against Jones, even in the wake of a terrorist attack, would be an enormous stretch at best.

        And as I said earlier, if there is any investigation underway of Jones' financial dealings, he shouldn't be busted for it until well after the burning, if only to avoid the appearance of prior restraint.

        Why does "Pastor" Terry Jones hate America?

        by Christian Dem in NC on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 07:42:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein & Terry Jones (0+ / 0-)

    should be "doing God's work" in prison.

  •  But it needs to be done delicately (0+ / 0-)

    There is a bit of a slippery slope in this type of case: person engages in unpopular speech and brings law enforcement down on himself for a variety of alleged misdeeds.  He certainly shouldn't get a free pass on any alleged wrongdoing because it would simply encourage others to do the same in an effort to sweep other conduct under the rug.  But, the investigation should be done quickly and effectively because there is always the risk of him claiming that it's all be undertaken to chill his First Amendment rights.  And, it's not like it would without precedent.

    •  Which is why, if they've got enough on him (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they should wait awhile after the burning takes place (if it does) to avoid it even appearing to be prior restraint.

      Why does "Pastor" Terry Jones hate America?

      by Christian Dem in NC on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 08:01:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Short of locking him up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't think any investigation necessarily qualifies as prior restraint, or what I think of as prior restraint (i.e., making it physically impossible for the person to make the speech sought to be suppressed).  Now that this "pastor" has equivocating about when the burning might happen, he shouldn't be allowed to tie up any investigation by simply dragging this drama on for weeks or months.

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