Thursday, April 28, 2011

Freedom of Speech Has Limits

I am writing today about the ongoing abuse of the right of free speech lately by some crazy people who call themselves Christian. I am talking about the family in Westboro that started their own Baptist church and use it as a vehicle to gain the national spotlight by attending the funerals of our fallen military service men and women and desecrating the events with their hate filled rhetoric. And let’s not forget the Pastor from Florida with the fuzzy dog chops who likes to provoke trouble by burning the Koran and doing protests in Islamic Mosques.

In both cases, their hate-speech has been defended by many people (including the ACLU) as protected by the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution. That is a hard argument to get around. In plain English, that Amendment gives us all the right to say what we think. It is an important right and needs to be vigorously defended. There are, however, limits which even common sense tells us must be observed. There is, of course, the famous exception pointed out by a Judge of the US Supreme Court which says you do not have a right to yell fire in a crowded theater. It’s a good example but it is not the only exception to the right to free speech. Both of these faux Christian groups are also examples of crossing that same line.

In his latest exploit, the US pastor (whose burning of a Koran sparked deadly violence in Afghanistan) was briefly jailed in a heavily Islamic suburb after a court banned his protest outside a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. A judge jailed Pastor Terry Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp after a court found their planned protest outside the Islamic Center of America could lead to violence.

During his court appearance, Pastor Jones argued that his right to protest against Islam was protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and also that the Koran "promotes terrorist activities around the world."

The Dearborn Police testified that the department had received information about serious threats made against Pastor Jones from local residents, and argued that his protest could lead to violence if allowed. The Prosecutor Robert Moran argued that the protest had nothing to do with the First Amendment and at stake were security and peace in the community.

This time the jury sided with the prosecution and the Judge set bond at the symbolic amount of $1 each for the two pastors, which they initially refused to pay. Following their refusal, both were escorted to a local jail. After spending about an hour behind bars both men changed their minds and posted the $1 bond.

Under the judge's ruling, both Pastor Jones and Mr. Sapp are now prohibited by the court from going to the mosque for three years. In spite of that, Pastor Jones was quoted as saying the two "will come back next week" to try to organize a new protest.
Pastor Jones and Mr Sapp are the same ones that made international headlines after their ceremonial "trial and execution" of the Koran by burning led to violent protests in Afghanistan and the deaths of at least 20 people (including UN Aid workers).

Pastor Jones choose Dearborn for his latest round of vile protests because Dearborn is home to the largest Islamic community in the United States. In the 2000 census, Arab Americans comprised 30 per cent of Dearborn's population.

I have not heard they were going to do it but I would be very surprised if the ACLU does not get involved and try to get the Judges ruling lifted, allowing this idiot Pastor to try and protest. We hold the right to free speech so dear that we seem willing to endure far too much in it’s name. I understand the need to protect this right –but when the exercise of this right inflicts pain and suffering, or endangers the health and safety of the people, it must be curtailed. Pastor Jones makes speeches and takes actions specifically designed to create hate and provoke trouble –and the important part of this is that he knows this ahead of time and does it anyway. That fact is what abrogates his right to take those actions under our Constitution. I applaud the people in Dearborn who successfully used the court to put a stop to him, even if only temporarily.

I believe God has a special place in hell for people who pretend to be his ministers only for their own aggrandizement and who discredit and bring shame on their religion.

Live Long and Prosper....

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