Managing Domestic Terrorism

 

By

Jesse W. Brogan

 

 

“We have met the enemy, and he is us!”  Walt Kelley, 1970

 

The Arab World has proven unable to contain its domestic terrorists.  They recognize these crazies as part of their civilization, and tolerate them as such – even while they kill their own people to promote a radical, and probably harmful, religious-political agenda.  In short, many see these harmful people as part of who they are, even to the point of supporting them.  We are appalled to discover that many Arab governments seem to actively support terrorists.

So what is a terrorist?

The accepted definition is someone who uses terror (a threat of unearned and undeserved harm) to promote a political or personal agenda.  Under this definition, we in the United States have our own domestic terrorists; and they are every bit as willing to harm us for their radical, and probably harmful, purposes as is any foreign terrorist.

Many who meet this definition are concentrated in our news media, and in action groups such as the ACLU.  These crazies get the same sort of domestic support for their harmful acts as do the domestic terrorists in Arab nations.  Shouldn’t we also be appalled to discover that our Government is actively supporting our home-grown terrorists!

As a practical observation, solving the terrorist problem in foreign lands is unlikely to succeed until we can solve it here.  We obviously need a different approach than has been used in the past.  These people are socially and politically accepted as agents of change within our civilization.  They may be either deluded or have clearer vision than the rest of us; and people of different vision are recognized as a necessary source for the health and strength of our nation. 

My purpose is harnessing the zeal and commitment of these individuals.  It is channeling their activities to achieve a more managed change, one that is that is less harmful to the people of our nation.  Domestic terrorism is not to be defeated, it is to be limited and contained. 

Limitation starts by recognizing that we give “inappropriate” support to our domestic terrorists.  Justice demands that domestic terrorists get only the protections and support that is given to other citizens. 

The primary tool now employed by domestic terrorists is the promotion of the rights and privileges of a few people as a means to strip the rights and privileges of everyone else.  The limitation-and-containment effort should remove the protected status for those who perform such actions.

With the news media, protection is found in “the freedom of the press” which started out as a citizen’s right to be informed.  This has been hijacked to become a right to espouse just about anything so long as it is presented as news.  Containment and limitation is not difficult to define.  The protection of the press should only apply to “news” which informs the public.  Misrepresented news, or news that is published only to cause harm or promote a private or political agenda, should be intentionally denied any special legal protection.  News that is so biased that it causes unnecessary harm should be denied protection normally afforded to news outlets.

Start at the root.  The news media gets no rights under our Constitution.  The only ones directly given legal rights are citizens, their representatives and the States.  All other rights are derived, and must be legally subordinate.

The right to protection of news outlets should derive from public benefit to the nation and to its people.  Using the media to sacrifice the careers and peace of individuals for the amusement of the news customers, or to promote the private opinions of news moguls, is criminal behavior.  Libel and slander should apply, even when addressing public figures, unless there is a true news basis for publishing.  Any intentionally harmful or misleading items should be actionable by both the state as regulator, and by harmed individuals.

The challenge to this approach is an obvious one.  Should we punish someone for expressing a bias? 

The answer is just as obvious.  If someone uses a public trust to harm someone else, then bias should be actionable.  A police officer is not entitled to use his police authority to abuse someone just because they are Jewish or black or a woman; why should the news media be given greater protection than a police officer?  Both should be expected to manage their personal biases, and provide for the public good.  If news people let their biases drive their actions, they should be accountable for any harmful results, even as a police officer can be held liable!

The ACLU is a corporate organization that perform legal representation.  It has corporate protection for its officers, and legal protections for actions performed in representing clients. 

The right to equal protection of the law goes to citizens, not to organizations.  Where an organization such as the ACLU takes actions that interfere with the rights and privileges of citizens, those actions need to be stripped of the special legal protection afforded to a corporate entity, or to those providing legal representation.  Any citizens who are harmed should be allowed to go after all those in the organization who were involved in the harmful behavior.

I must stress that this is not a radical agenda.  Government protection of the citizenry from predators is not a radical; it is a regular function of Government.  In these United States, it is Constitutionally mandated! 

I have no purpose in stopping domestic terrorism.  I am focused on limiting and containing the terrorist’s ability to cause damages.  We will always take some level of harm from the terrorists who are part of our society, but we don’t need to protect and encourage them.  We need to make them accountable for the harm that they do, and answerable to the ones who are harmed.

My recommendation is to forbid them any special protection that might be gained through entering into organizations or protected professions, or through infiltrating influential groups such as our news media.  If domestic terrorists still choose to do harm, they should be held legally responsible for the result – as should be those who support and protect them in their harmful behavior.

What does this mean to the news media?  It means that they must fairly present political and social news – which is certainly supportable. 

Consider, for example, a news outlet that chooses to publish as news a speach by a third party proclaiming that a public officer is incompetent for the office he is seeking to retain.  At that point, the news outlet would have joined in slandering that office holder.  The news media is not a citizen; it is not given a vote in our election process; and it should have no say in an election.  The choice to slander that candidate was not news, it was the commission of a criminal act.  On discovery of such actions, our Government should have the obligation to address the action as a breach of freedom of the press, and possibly deny those involved the right to continue working in the industry.  Any individual harmed should have a right to sue those same domestic terrorists as individuals, seeking damages for harm resulting from their misuse of the power of the media.  This would go both to the ones who committed the act, and those who had knowingly authorized the act.

Consider further an ACLU promoted suit to remove the ten commandment plaque from a judge’s bench in a courtroom.  Has the judge committed a crime?  Then prosecution is the job of the state.  Let the ACLU address it to the prosecutor.  If the prosecutor fails in his duty, then the ACLU would have a valid action based on the prosecutor’s failure, and would be protected in proceeding in that direction. 

Has the judge caused harm to or threatened any person?  If so, then legal representation of the person who is harmed or threatened is appropriate.  If not, then we are addressing a frivolous lawsuit, one where the attorney, and those who promote and support the action, might, in extreme cases of abuse, even be denied the right to continue in the practice law. 

If the suite causes the judge to incur costs in defending his right to put his private property on his own desk; and that suite is found to be without good legal purpose; then the judge should be allowed to seek damages.  The ACLU as an organization, and those individual terrorists who took part in the harmful misuse of their position as officers of the court, should be accountable.

Of course, if the suite is a valid representation of a person whose rights and privileges were threatened or removed, then law would protect those who represent that client; and the judge would have no action.

How silly many of these actions would seem in light of any such an analysis.  Is someone really going to feel threatened to the point of legal action by the ten commandments plaque?  This should be compared to the personal threat inherent in the gun that the bailiff wears quite openly in the courtroom?

Correction of the unjust support for domestic terrorism is possible.  Applying the breaks to those who abuse granted liberties is always presentable.  Legislative action can be promoted, and even demanded, by those who are being denied the protection of our laws because of special protections given to domestic terrorists.  It is just necessary to present and make known the harm that domestic terrorism has been causing, and to put the question of public need to those who are able to answer it.

The nature of the necessary law actually supports a simple approach, almost the statement of a principle.

 

“No legal protection beyond those common to all citizens shall be afforded to any person or legal entity where they take actions that would be inappropriate or illegal as public acts (other than by elected representatives).”

 

The logical statement is direct.  If the public will not tolerate a public official doing an act, it should not allow public officials to promote the doing of the same act by others.

This does not stop a newspaper from engaging in terrorist actions, but can deny that paper the special protection previously afforded as “freedom of the press.”  They would be legally accountable for assuring that the content was correct, and was not published to harm someone or some group.  A finding of failure to meet the test would both strip away the recognized protection of the press and would pierce the corporate veil; both of which are special protections not afforded to citizens.

 It does not forbid the ACLU from bringing suit to prevent a teacher from using class-time for a quiet moment as an opportunity for prayer.  It just denies corporate or representational protections to the ACLU or its attorneys and officers if their suit could not be maintained by a public attorney. 

It would still be a protected action if a Government attorney could bring such a suit.  It is far more likely, however, that such a suit would be found to violate several other protected Constitutional rights and freedoms of both the teachers and the students, including the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.  This would prevent the public suit, and would therefore open the question of the need for special protection for others.

If the Government official is forbidden to use his office to publish an article promoting a particular political candidate, then a private news organization should not expect any special protection for doing the same.  If another candidate can demonstrate legal damages arising from that action, it is likely that the court would allow the damage suit, going both to the news organization and to the individuals who misused their positions of trust.

This does not prevent valid reporting of news.  It does not prevent representational organizations from taking legal actions.  It rather addresses the potential for retaliatory actions by any who are harmed by their actions.  It does not remove the protection of the press or the protection of an attorney working with a client, it just raises the potential for a later finding of a lack of clear public purpose – with any injured party being able to seek redress.

Again, I must note that this will not prevent domestic terrorism by our radical elements.  It will just limit and contain their terrorism.  They are unlikely to take actions that will cause a loss of future ability to harm others.  They are still likely to engage in terrorist actions as individuals, where they have the same rights and protections as everyone else.  Domestic terrorists have faith in a cause, or they would not risk damage in promoting it. 

Again, I stress that the purpose is not elimination of domestic terrorism, or even the punishment of domestic terrorists.  What this approach does is remove the current special protections afforded to a set of common domestic-terrorist acts.  It requires the individual terrorist to face, and possibly answer to, those they harm.  If they are willing to do so, they are willing to pay the price for bringing about a resisted change.  They should then be honored as such, even where most people believe that they are deluded.