Of the many curious coverage decisions the mainstream media made this year, I thought the relative lack of interest in the plight of Mark Bassely Youssef, who made "Innocence of Muslims," was noteworthy. There's no question the dude is shady and broke the law in matters unrelated to the YouTube phenomenon. But the Obama administration's focus on him, the physical threats issued against him, and his incarceration over the last few months also merited some serious discussions about free speech as its practiced in the United States. But the media could not really have been much less interested in him.
The Associated Press does give us a follow-up this week about the situation. It begins:
The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to violence in many parts of the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter, then issued a provocative statement through his attorney.
What's the provocative statement?
Shortly after Youssef left the courtroom, his lawyer, Steven Seiden, came to the front steps of the courthouse and told reporters his client wanted to send a message.
"The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn't kill the ideology," Seiden said.
Asked what that meant, Seiden said, "I didn't ask him, and I don't know."
Is that statement either provocative or unclear? It seems kind of obvious and clear as day to me. I was trying to figure out if the writer was just trying to play it straight, because it's clear that there are all sorts of hints at what Youssef was getting at. We're told that the U.S. attorney said the case had nothing to do with the film but that had he been truthful with people associated with the film, they may not have done the film:
He said they have had death threats and feel their careers have been ruined.
Even the worst Hollywood films don't usually result in death threats. Is there a ghost there?
Or what about this?
Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted.
Enraged Muslims had demanded severe punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills him.
Hmm. Is there anything ideological or religious that could be unpacked here?
The piece goes into detail about the stiff sentencing the con man received. I'd love to see how this news is reported around the world.