Title: Hatespeech
Author: Penemuel
Posted: 10/4/01
Pairing: nominally S/J, but nothing going on in here
Summary: We have our own Taliban...
Spoilers: None
Warnings: Reality-based post-9/11 fic
Author's notes: I'm not even really sure about posting this -- it's just a little something that spilled out of my head the night I heard the remarks. Sam's speech itself was what happened spontaneously, and the rest of the stuff around it came afterwards. This was all written in one night, and has only been tweaked slightly since then. Unlike most of my stuff, it's just a vignette - it may be part of the "Control" universe, but it's not really tied into the storyline at all. I just had to get it out of my head.

Hatespeech by Penemuel

"There you are, Josh -- I've been looking all over the place for you," Toby grumbled as he found Josh and Leo staring at the television in Leo's office.

"What're you watching?"

He walked in to join them, expecting from the simmering fury in their expressions that it was yet another rerun of the celebrating Palestinians or the second plane. His eyebrows shot up when instead he saw talking heads. "The '700 Club'?"

"Yeah," Josh answered quickly, obviously trying to pay attention. Toby obliged and turned his attention to the discussion, dread beginning to fill him as he realized what was being said.

When it was over, Leo hit the mute button on the remote and slammed it down on the shelf. "He did it -- I can't believe he was THAT stupid!"

Toby blinked and squeezed the bridge of his nose, then looked at Leo. "You can't let Sam hear this."

"Too late, Toby, this is a tape your staff provided..." Leo answered, glancing at Josh for a moment. "He's already working on it."

"That's just wonderful," Toby grumbled, heading out of Leo's office before they could say anything.

Josh and Leo looked at each other and Leo whispered, "This is going to get bad." Josh simply nodded and they hurried off after Toby, catching up with him when he came to a sudden stop in Sam's doorway.

"Sam?"

"Yeah, Toby?" Sam answered, not looking up from the screen of his laptop as he continued to type.

"Sam, stop typing..."

Sam looked up at Toby but continued to type. The anger in his blue gaze was almost a palpable force.

"No."

"Sam, stop it -- you can't say anything."

"Toby, back off," Sam said, his voice tight.

"I mean it, Sam, *stop*."

"No."

"Toby, leave him alone," Josh warned quietly. He knew the mood Sam was in, and knew that even Toby wouldn't escape unscathed if he pushed.

"Damn it, Sam, stop."

Sam finally stopped typing, sending the document he had been working on to print. While the inkjet chugged away, he stood and stalked to the doorway where Toby stood. "Either come into my office, or get out, but don't expect me to let this sit, Toby."

"Damn it, Sam," Toby growled, walking to Sam as the younger man looked past him at Leo and Josh. Josh knew the look of resolve all too well -- Toby wasn't going to win this one...

"Okay, Toby, what's your argument. Make it fast, because the President's waiting for this," Sam demanded, glaring daggers at the other man.

"You can't say anything against them -- they have a right to free speech, just as anyone else in this country does."

"No, they don't. Not this kind of speech, Toby. The precedent has already been set -- internet service providers don't allow Neo-Nazi websites to spout hate; people have already condemned hate speech and vandalism against Muslim Americans -- how is this different?" Sam said, his voice strong and steady.

"What if they blamed it on Jews? Would you feel the same way then? Would you still feel secure in letting them get away with it?"

Toby opened his mouth to respond when Sam unleashed his final salvo, "Why is it wrong to spout hate speech against Muslim Americans, but okay to spout it about me?!" He turned to snatch the paper off the printer, then barged out past Toby in the direction of the Oval Office, while Toby stood in his office, stunned.

After a long moment, he turned back to Leo and Josh, and asked, "Did I just hear what I think I heard?"

"Depends, Toby," Leo answered, "What d'you think you heard?"

Sam stood off to one side, watching with pride as the President spoke to the press. He talked about the need for unity, the strength of the American people; he talked about how cowardly acts by madmen could never destroy the American spirit. And then, he talked about misplaced anger, and the need to understand that just because someone was of Arab decent, or was a Muslim, it didn't mean they were to blame. He talked of tolerance, of understanding, and of how wrong it was to blame someone just because of the colour of their skin, or their religious beliefs. And then, he directly addressed the latest offense...

"In this time when all people who believe in freedom must come together, comments such as these are as divisive as the attacks on Muslim Americans. They are as bigoted and unforgivable as the obscenities scrawled on the walls of mosques and Islamic centers.

"When all people should join in unity, in support of each other, NO American who claims to believe in a loving God should spout such hateful words. Hate speech by religious extremists is no more right coming from American mouths than it is from any others in this world."

The President looked over to where Sam stood in the doorway, and saw the glimmer of unshed tears in his eyes. When he looked back at the room full of reporters again, he continued, "I'm going to do something my speechwriters hate now, and deviate from the end of their speech. There's just one more thing I want to say about this ugly episode. To the guilty parties: I won't name names, but you know who you are. You should be ashamed of yourselves." He smiled grimly out at the flashing cameras and concluded, "That's it for now. CJ will have another briefing for you in half an hour."

end

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