Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Mote In God's Eye Appears to be a Bit of Domestic Terrorism

Over at LGM docAmazing, Lemeul Pitkin and I have been arguing with the ever fascinating Paul Campos over this remark in comments:

I objected fairly strenously on the behalf of "the left" whose opinions aren't usually sought on their foregiveness or anything else. Without beating a dead comments thread it makes pretty interesting reading in light of today's revelation about the sad little eight year old boy who has inserted himself into the national dialogue on how Democrats are no better than domestic terrorists. Looky, looky, looky here--it seems that there are darned few Americans, of any age, who don't have a history of aiding and abetting Domestic Terrorism.

The McCain campaign, in a continuing effort to link Barack Obama to domestic terrorism, released a statement Wednesday from a New York supporter, recounting how his family home was firebombed by the radical 1960s group founded by Obama supporter William Ayers.

But the McCain supporter, John M. Murtagh, has his own ties to radical protesters: He served as a lawyer for a Catholic priest who led protests at an abortion clinic that turned violent.

...From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Murtagh served as a pro-bono lawyer for the Rev. John T. Murphy, a leader of a group of antiabortion protesters who spent years picketing outside Long Island Gynecological Services in Garden City, N.Y. Rev. Murphy ran a charity called "Save the Babies," records show.

According to a 1995 Nassau County, N.Y., court decision involving the clinic, the Nassau County Police Department was called to the premises at least 17 times in 1994 and 1995 to investigate reports of physical assault, harassment, bomb threats and in four cases, the firing of bullets into windows.

A 72-year-old woman who worked for another business in the building told police that two protesters grabbed her from behind, dragged her down a hall, and slammed her into a wall before running off, leaving her with bruises and back pain. She told police she believed the protesters had mistaken her for a clinic employee because she had been wearing a white nurse's uniform.

Threatening notes were left at the clinic, including one stating "Danger" and "This is a war zone." A protester threw a piece of lead at a building manager, missing the man but breaking the car window of the building's owner, the police records cited by the New York court show.

Rev. Murphy had been acquitted of criminal trespassing charges twice in 1998 relating to his protesting at the clinic. In both cases, the judge ruled that Rev. Murphy hadn't been aware he'd been on private property and that his free-speech rights were protected.

Mr. Murtagh became involved in 1999 when the clinic filed a civil lawsuit in Nassau County court seeking to end the protests. Mr. Murtagh represented Rev. Murphy.

In 2001, a judge granted the clinic's request, ruling that while the protesters had a right to free speech, their conduct had violated the clinic's private property rights.

Mr. Murtagh also represented Rev. Murphy in a separate civil counterclaim filed in federal court against the clinic and its landlords. The free-speech issues "raised a unique issue of what constitutes the public space," Mr. Murtagh said in a telephone interview.

Although he opposes abortion and is the past chairman of a women's care center that counsels against ending pregnancies, Mr. Murtagh said he took the Rev. Murphy's case because of the constitutional issues it raised, and not because of his own antiabortion views.

The records of his counterclaim are archived and were not immediately available. Mr. Murtagh said the clinic settled the case and paid his client several thousand dollars.

But Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union who represented the clinic in that case, said she had no recollection of any financial settlement with the Rev. Murphy.

A telephone number associated with the Rev. Murphy was disconnected. Mr. Murtagh said he'd not seen the priest since the case ended in 2001 and didn't know how to reach him. Mr. Murtagh also said he was a supporter of Sen. McCain for president.

Neither Mr. Murtagh nor a spokesman for the McCain campaign said they saw any parallels between Mr. Ayers and the Rev. Murphy.

...Michael Goldfarb, the McCain spokesman, noted that the Rev. Murphy had not been convicted of any crimes. He said it wasn't relevant that Mr. Ayers hadn't been convicted, either, because in 2001 he gave a newspaper interview in which he embraced his violent past.