Trends in hate - Michael Coon of Holland Benefits Group attempt to quell free speech

"Far-left nuts" of Toledo, Ohio beware: should you publicly voice your opposition to the war in Iraq, voice your support for universal health care, or dare to criticize former Lucas County (Ohio) Republican Party chairman turned federal inmate, Tom Noe, you could be hearing from Michael Edward Coon, the 52-year-old white, Christian owner of Holland Benefits Group, a 24-year-old employee benefits consulting firm based in Ohio. If you’re retired surgeon Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, a University of Toledo trustee and guest editorial writer for The Toledo Blade, you already have heard from Coon who lives in the Point Place section of Toledo.

Coon was arraigned in Maumee Municipal Court Monday June 23, 2008, on three counts of felony ethnic intimidation (that’s Ohio’s kindly name for a hate crime) for allegedly sending "hate emails" to Dr. Hussain in apparent response to Dr. Hussain’s published editorials in The Toledo Blade. Coldly, some of the emails were sent after Dr. Hussain was the victim of a violent home invasion where he was sprayed with mace and pistol-whipped; and, heartlessly, Coon’s emails expressed delight in that crime. So much for the Golden Rule of Christianity. It seems Coon has been on a one-man campaign to quell the free speech of Toledo residents whose political viewpoints differ from his. He firmly supports the war in Iraq and is opposed to universal health care. Coon has admitted he has telephoned people who have publicly shared sociopolitical viewpoints different from his own—persons who have had their letters to the editor published in The Toledo Blade—and he has said that these people "are far-left nuts." Of course if he’s checked opinion polls lately, Coon will see that most Americans (even many self-described Christians like himself) are disappointed with our President’s performance in office, are against the war in Iraq (like Pakistani-born Dr. Hussain), and are desperately hungry for something other than our current health care system. We hope Coon has good telephone and internet service plans; he's got a lot of Toledo residents to contact.

According to the meticulous reporting of Toledo Blade staff writer, Kate Giammarise, since Coon’s hate-crime arrest, others have come forward to say that they have received harassing, scary telephone calls from Coon. One woman said she changed her telephone number to an unlisted one after Coon's menacing calls to her home following her letters to the editor in the Toledo Blade criticizing Tom Noe for orchestrating the investor-theft, money-laundering scheme now known as Coingate, and criticizing the war in Iraq. So frightened was this woman after Coon's telephone calls that she also contacted the police.

In his defense about his charges, Coon has said that he never threatened or intimidated Dr. Hussain who is Muslim. Talking about himself in the third-person, Coon said: "Coon is not a psycho, Coon is an American patriot." Coon may not be psycho, but Coon may have crossed the line from constitutionally protected free speech to the kind considered criminal--the kind that threatens and intimidates--because one email sent from Coon to Dr. Hussain, quoted from Toledo’s NBC affiliate, is said to have contained the following words:
"...Beheading Islamists will be as fun as a turkey shoot. You are in my sights!!!"
Even without the national backdrop of increased violent crimes committed against Muslims and those perceived to be either Muslim or from the Middle East since the 9-11 terroristic attacks, such a statement can hardly be viewed as free speech, can it? "Beheading Islamists" followed by "turkey shoot" followed by "You are in my sights": how could that be considered free speech? How could that not be seen as criminal intimidation based on religious hatred? Coon is also reported to have communicated to Dr. Hussain:
"frightened scared immigrants like you have it coming big time."
Coon has said he posed "zero threat" to Dr. Hussain, which of course a jury will decide. One thing is for sure, we wouldn't want to take our chances dealing with a man with a violent past, such as Coon. As Ms. Giammarise wrote:

"in 2002, Coon pleaded no contest and was found guilty in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to aggravated assault, and attempted intimidation of a crime victim or witness. The charges stem from Coon's attack on a 19-year-old neighbor with a bat, lacerating his head and breaking the young man's left arm, according to a police report."

Wow, a then 46-year-old businessman taking a baseball bat to the body of a 19-year-old neighbor. So much for the Christian tenet Love Thy Neighbor. In that 2002 case, Coon initially pleaded Not Guilty, but it appears that on December 10, 2001, he entered a new plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, and was referred the following day for a psychiatric evaluation. The case was then scheduled for trial on January 3, 2002, but on that date there was a question about Coon's competence to stand trial. So, the case was postponed until January 8, 2002, at which time Coon changed his plea again; he entered his No Contest plea for the two fourth-degree felony charges, thus avoiding trial. A month later Coon was sentenced. He was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, plus restitution and court costs, he was ordered to three years of probation (though in reality he was off probation after two years), and he was ordered to have no contact with the victim. Pleading No Contest to a violent criminal act is a savvy thing to do for a person with substantial financial assets, by the way, because evidence from a criminal court case that has a No Contest finding cannot be used against a defendant in a civil lawsuit. And it appears Coon has assets.

According to, Coon’s Holland Benefits Group, a company with fewer than five employees, rakes in between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in annual revenue. You’d think with a business that lucrative, Coon would be too busy to track down and contact those whose sociopolitical beliefs differ from his own. Or, you'd think that Coon could see an obvious reality and maybe say to himself: Coon's not fighting in war-torn Iraq, Coon has a cushy white-collar lifestyle. You'd think he'd grasp that clear reality and that it would have motivated him to want to protect and keep his sweet CEO lifestyle, a lifestyle likely flushed down the toilet, if convicted as charged, just as the cushy lifestyle of Republican money-launderer Thomas W. Noe was flushed after he was convicted of laundering more than $45,000 to President Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign. (Noe was convicted in November, 2006, of 29 felonies in Ohio, and was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, which is to be served following his 27-month federal prison term. Noe, 53, is serving his federal prison term at The Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) - Low in Coleman, Florida, and he is expected to complete his federal prison term on October 27, 2008).

Detective Mark Woodruff of the Lucas County Sheriff's Department, who is the chief investigator in the Coon case, said, "There's a line somewhere out there between freedom of speech and criminal conduct" and police believe that line was crossed in the emails to Dr. Hussain. Regarding the accusations against him and his pending trial, Coon has said defiantly:

"We'll see if 12 real Americans will think this guy was abused, harassed, or intimidated. I can't wait to get to trial."

Neither can we, Coon, neither can we.

Coon is scheduled to appear in court July 3, 2008. In the meantime, he has been barred from having any contact with Dr. Hussain and he has also been barred from entering any building where Dr. Hussain is, according to a civil protection order issued by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Jensen on June 24, 2008.

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