Pennsylvania passes a "Gag Mumia" law to silence prisoner's voices



Somehow I do not think this law is going to work very well especially outside of Pennsylvania.

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[quote]Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.[/quote]

I wish it were not so hard for me to reconcile this noble sentiment with the present iteration of my country’s ideology.

EDIT to add: How long must we hate the newcomers? Every time?


Genocide, really? I’m not sure the author is familiar with real genocide.

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Congratulations! You are the winner of the Oppression Olympics! Your favored group has proven once and for all that it is indeed the Most Oppressed, and that all other groups are just exaggerating.

Henceforth, your favored group will have exclusive rights to the term “genocide”, and all other groups will be required to clarify that despite their complaints, they don’t have it as bad as your favored group.


I hate these sorts of situations, because emotionally, I’m torn.

Logically, I’m against censorship. If people want to read something like Mein Kampf, we have no right to stop them forcibly through law. We can of course try to dissaude them through reasoning and empathy, and try to convince them that such ideas are not wisdom, but ultimately to censor such ideas only gives them power over us, and reignites the flames of hatred and strife.

On the other hand, having just taken a quick crash course on Mumia Abu-Jamal (having been previously unfamilair with him), I’ve come away disgusted and saddened at what he did and what he stood for (as well as at how the legal system operated in the course of his trial, to be completely fair). I simply don’t understand what would compel someone to give him and his message the attention they clearly are receiving, even if logically I can conceive of and even comprehend various rationales for doing so.

I can respect why someone would want to pass this law, but as much as it pains me to know there are people who take this man’s message of violence and racial conflict to heart, I could never support such a law, nor allow it to come to pass.

As well intentioned or as passionately felt as the desire to silence such negative messages may be, to do so is to abandon any pretense of fairness or truth, any sense of justice or equality - to say nothing of the practical risk of the entire endeavor backfiring completely.


Well it’s nice of you to try to be completely fair.I don’t see in your comment, though, any understanding of the controversy and doubt surrounding his conviction.

And what is it that he stood for (and now stands for, if you know enough about that to opine as well) that disgusts and saddens you?

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Censorship is the refuge of the rhetorically bankrupt. Any subject whatsoever can be intelligently discussed if people are mature enough to really argue and debate issues. And if some aren’t, it should never interfere with those who are - unless you want to resign yourself to an ignorant, infantile culture.

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I don’t have a problem at all with this guy or even his message of revolution. He is a message unto himself, that message is that violence begets violence, oppression is violence, he was born oppressed.

People who don’t like to hear that, particularly the Fraternal Order of Police & all the politicians that line up to call Mumia a hypocrite, can suck an egg.

Mumia didn’t start the fire, the BPP & other groups he associated with have never added as much fuel to that fire as those they oppose & to try and hold up only his crime, dismissing all else, as representative of the man & his message is another log onto the fire.

Excepting explicit instruction or enticement to specific violent acts, there is nothing he can say about his life or perceptions of his time or anything else that can be justifiably censored, just as you pointed out. I just wanted to say that what he says doesn’t even make me uncomfortable when taken in the context of his life & times of which he is a product. Except to maybe check my privilege.

I would warrant that if ever the forces aligned against him ever engaged in a credible TRC process that he would meet them halfway, but until then, we actually need such persons as him, warts and all.


I recognize that there might be an emotional conflict; but it seems to be exactly the same one that comes up with every freedom of speech/press issue.

There is always going to be somebody intensely unlikeable (even if it isn’t Abu-Jamal I’m sure at least a few prisoners can be found gloating tactlessly about their crimes somewhere); and always going to be a modest proposal to shut them up with just a few nobody-would-every-abuse-this side effects. If you aren’t willing to put up with some unlikeable people, you really don’t have much room before you aren’t against censorship anymore.

In this case, the legislative intent practically screams “Bill of attainder; but broadened a bit to get it past the lawyers and give us future options!”, which isn’t a good start; and the fact that it targets prisoners(a notably well-represented and influential population, to be sure), on very vague grounds makes it virtually certain to be abused, and fast.

I’m not really interested in a Mumia battle; but even if the law were being proposed because of some serial killer who wouldn’t stop gloating as loudly as possible about how dreadful his victims’ final moments were it just seems far too dangerous to be allowed. Vague, subjective, criteria? Check. Vulnerable and generally disliked targets? Check. Just Not. Going. To. Go. Well.


“Genocide” isn’t just a rhetorical cudgel, it has an actual definition. The Pequot War was a genocide, as was the Trail of Tears. The Civil Rights Congress had a case when they presented the “We Charge Genocide” petition to the UN in 1951. I don’t think mass incarceration alone, goddamn horrible as it is, meets the definition though.

An actual definition which was written to exclude extermination policies, forced sterilization policies, and cultural-destruction policies against lgbt people and against disabled people, among others.

Some of the first targets of Nazi extermination policies were disabled people, trans womyn, and gay men. After the war, the Allies decided that the Nazi extermination policies against trans womyn and gay men were legal, and continued to imprison survivors, and continued to deny compensation to survivors. So they were aware of such genocide, they were just complicit in it and wanted to keep their options open.


“Institution of Oppression” would be more accurate (prolonged, cruel, unjust treatment or control). But as a holdover or deliberate extension of systems that were cited in 1951 there is little reason to abandon applying the term to incarceration as a component of the genocide claimed at that time. Especially as there are doubtless still some within theses systems who intend to and believe they use these systems to that end.


Uuuum… so? I fail to see why I or anyone else has to accept that definition. Arguing morality from law is like arguing meaning from a dictionary: It’s philosophical disregard for which is supposed to source the other.


This is a fantastic post. Angela Davis deserves a larger audience, and the plight of US political prisoners needs more media coverage.

Unfortunately, so far the comments have been arguing semantics of who gets to define genocide and the “guilt/innocence” of Mr. Abu-Jamal.

These are distractions from the larger and scarier truth of the systematic racism, oppression and destruction of black people in the US. We live in an apartheid nation; raised in a culture defined by racism.

This realization is heartbreaking, but until we all acknowledged this HUGE truth, no change will be possible.


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