Patterico's Pontifications


A Michigan Jury Finds That Muslims Can’t Be Expected To Control Themselves and Pastor Jones Gets His Birmingham Jail Moment (Update: Released!)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:43 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Via Volokh we get this brief from the ACLU. The law element has been well-covered, but they bring expertise of local procedure.

Basically this is a special process by which a person can be accused of planning to breach the peace. And if they plan to breach the peace, they can be charged a bond to cover the estimated costs of such breach. So what we have is a full-on Minority Report situation, where we are prosecuting him not for what he has done, but what he might do. Indeed, more precisely we are prosecuting him based on what others might do if he does something that he might not himself do. That explains, procedurally what was going on, but it doesn’t make it any less appalling (or change my analysis significantly). It is also prior restraint of the most appalling form and bluntly, will not withstand appeal. It might take the Supreme Court to do it, but this law will be rendered a dead letter before this is over.

Incidentally, in response something Allah (the blogger) said, the Fighting Words doctrine is uncertain as constitutional law these days. For instance, in Texas v. Johnson the incitement of others to breach the peace, the so-called heckler’s veto, was treated under the more stringent Brandenburg standard (discussed here). That might be the true standard these days.

The only time the Fighting Words Doctrine allowed a person to be restrained before the Supreme Court appears to be Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. In that case a Jehovah’s Witness told a cop as he was being arrested that

`You are a God damned racketeer’ and `a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists,’

It is unthinkable that a person could be prosecuted for saying that today. Indeed if that was the case, we could arrest virtually the entirety of Indymedia and the Democratic Underground. So I think the Fighting Words Doctrine might very well be a dead letter.

Update (II): Jones has been released. I will write more later but this article fills in many of the blanks.


Well, as a temporary conclusion to a story I have followed all day, Pastor Jones is in jail tonight.  As you might recall from previous posts, he wished to protest outside a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan.  The city attempted to impose a “peace bond” on him charging him for anticipated security expenses.  As I have stated in a prior post, that is flat-out unconstitutional, because it would vary according to how controversial the speech would be and thus would be a content-based restriction.  So they went to a jury trial and then this happened:

The stunning development came after a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

Pastor Sapp is famous for being the man who actually burned the Koran, under Jones’ direction.

Prosecutors asked Judge Mark Somers for $45,000 bond. Somers then set
bond at $1 each for the two pastors.

They refused to pay. And Somers ordered them remanded to jail.

This frankly doesn’t compute with me.  My understanding is that the posture of the trial was to figure out if they had to pay to get a permit.  If they refused to pay, they simply didn’t get a permit and then they had to decide whether to protest anyway.  So something is not adding up, here.

Of course I have long said that legal reporting is very poor and maybe there is something crucially missing in the understanding of the trial.  For instance, Eugene Volokh seems to think that their actual freedom was at stake.


Updates On the Jones Case and the Suppression of Freedom of Speech in Dearborn, Michigan (Update: For Those of You Wondering What the Klan Thought of All of This… And the ACLU Intervenes)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:36 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: See the end when some nitwit asks, “Hey, what does the Klan think?”  And a more positive response from the local community.

Update (II): You can watch live at the courthouse, here.

Update (III): The ALCU files a brief. Go to the end to learn more.

The testimony has ended in the Jones case and we get two reports from inside the courtroom.  First, the blog post discusses the prosecutor’s case in general:

However, so far, much of the Dearborn Police Department’s case for denying the permit – as presented in testimony today – is based upon the size of expected counter-protests. Other than evidence that Jones and Sapp promoted their plans on online, the prosecution offered no evidence they wished to encourage a large turnout.

To be sure, Altar Road is not an ideal place to accommodate a mass gathering of any kind, and given the controversy surrounding Jones, he likely will attract a crowd. With the Islamic Friday services and Good Friday services at the nearby Christian Churches, that could be a recipe a public safety hazard caused by serious traffic tie-up.

If Dearborn had simply said, pick another date because this is a really bad day to have a protest there, they might have a point.

After all, as Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad acknowledged from the witness box, the Westboro Baptist Church did receive a permit for a small, short protest at that same location late last year.

Unfortunately, the logistical challenges of allowing this protest, at this location, on Good Friday is really a small part of the case against Jones and Sapp.

Read the whole thing. It is very informative.  Likewise, we get a peak inside the whole trial, here:

The Truth About Trig Trutherism

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 12:23 pm

[Guest Post by Lee Stranahan]

Although it’s coming a couple of years too late, Justin Elliott at Salon has written the definitive takedown of ‘Trig Trutherism’ and it comes to the same conclusion I did when I looked into the matter a couple of years ago …

Trig Trutherism, the surprisingly resilient conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin is not actually the mother of 3-year-old Trig Palin, is experiencing a boomlet thanks to a new academic paper that endorses the concept. Long pursued by the blogger Andrew Sullivan and a significant segment of the Palin-hating left, Trig Trutherism holds that Trig’s real mother is either Bristol Palin or some third party, and that Sarah Palin herself faked the pregnancy to avoid embarrassment for her daughter or for political gain or some combination of reasons.

In light of the recent attention this subject has received and the considerable passion it has stirred, Salon embarked last week on an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Trig’s birth. The exhaustive review of available evidence that we conducted, along with new interviews with multiple eyewitnesses who interacted with a pregnant Sarah Palin up-close in early 2008 — most of whom had never spoken publicly about the matter before — has produced one clear conclusion: Sarah Palin is, indeed, Trig’s mother and there is no reason to suspect any kind of a coverup.

We’ve learned, for instance, that an Associated Press reporter in Alaska who was covering Palin during her pregnancy in early 2008 (before she became a national figure) thoroughly investigated rumors that the pregnancy was a hoax. The reporter directly questioned Palin about the matter in a private meeting in her Juneau office before she gave birth. Gov. Palin responded by voluntarily lifting her outer layer of clothing, offering a clear look at her round belly. The reporter quickly concluded that there was no truth to the rumors and never wrote about them. (emphasis mine)

Will it satisfy the unsatisfiable? Of course not. Towards the end of his piece, Elliott covers the epistemological point well, discussing Andrew Sullivan’s seeming inability to accept reality on this issue.

Sullivan’s refrain on this issue is that he does not endorse any conspiracy theory, he is merely asking questions. He simply wants Palin "to debunk this for once and for all, with simple, readily available medical records." He hasproposed, for example, the release of "amniocentesis results with Sarah Palin’s name on them."

It’s worth noting that this posture is identical to the rhetoric used by Obama birthers (for instance, WorldNetDaily Birther czar Joseph Farah employs the "just asking for definitive piece of proof x" line here).

But the larger point is that continuously demanding more "proof" on an issue about which there is already overwhelming evidence is either irrational or disingenuous. And why would a piece of paper with amniocentesis results and Sarah Palin’s name be more dispositive than the doctor’s many statements and the testimony of all of the reporters who saw Palin pregnant? If you already believe everyone is lying and everything is a hoax, it wouldn’t.

– Lee Stranahan

Sockpuppet Friday—The “Please, For the Love of All That’s Good and Holy in the World, Stop Rapping” Edition

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:20 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sock puppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself, a lot.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.


And for this week’s Friday frivolity I ask a question. Why is it that some people think that the best way to persuade you is to create a rap song, written and performed by people who apparently don’t listen to rap music?  First up we have Code Pink has making an anti-Blackwater rap:

And if that is not enough psychological damage for anyone who loves hip-hop or just doesn’t like really bad music, we have a government funded rap:


New Blogger Fail! (Update: Do Not Miss This Parody: “Why white people should oppose Chris Knighton living in Jamaica Plain”)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:29 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: The protest he was rallying people to went off, and as you can see from the video at this site, a groundswell of eighty people showed up.

Also, you absolutely owe it to yourself to read this parody: Why white people should oppose Chris Knighton living in Jamaica Plain.

It’s probably a little mean to pick on a new blogger, but the fail here is so epic and so hilarious, I can’t resist…

Why white people should oppose Whole Foods coming to Jamaica Plain

So okay folks take a guess who is writing this:

Option 1: A Klansman.

Option 2: A whiny liberal of pallor who thinks he is sticking up for minorities but comes off as racist as Option 1.

Take your guess… now.

Free Speech Showdown Scheduled For Today (Update: New Post)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:53 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: See this post for updates to the story.

Terry Jones, famous for having a Koran burned, has decided to go to Dearborn, Michigan, to do some sort of protest outside a mosque, today at 5 p.m.  He has also stated that he has “no plans” to burn a Koran (but you do have to wonder if he might do some spontaneous combustion).  So he sought a permit from the city, and the city is refusing to give it to him.  From the reports it appears that the sticking point is this:

Prosecutors have sought the unspecified bond — Jones said it was up to $100,000 — for extra police in fear of a riot.

As Eugene Volokh has pointed out, this is almost certainly unconstitutional under Forsyth v. Nationalist Movement, where a city ordinance charging up to $1,000 for permits depending on costs was struck down.  There were two basic concerns in that case.  The first is the lack of standards in that law allowing for a great deal of discretion by county administrators in choosing the fee.  Since I haven’t read the ordinance in question in Jones’ case, I will punt on whether that is an issue, except to quote this key passage on that subject, so you know what the law says:

Respondent contends that the county ordinance is facially invalid because it does not prescribe adequate standards for the administrator to apply when he sets a permit fee. A government regulation that allows arbitrary application is “inherently inconsistent with a valid time, place, and manner regulation because such discretion has the potential for becoming a means of suppressing a particular point of view.”…  To curtail that risk, “a law subjecting the exercise of First Amendment freedoms to the prior restraint of a license” must contain “narrow, objective, and definite standards to guide the licensing authority.”…  The reasoning is simple: If the permit scheme “involves appraisal of facts, the exercise of judgment, and the formation of an opinion,” … by the licensing authority, “the danger of censorship and of abridgment of our precious First Amendment freedoms is too great” to be permitted[.]

But more fundamentally if the ordinance allows the fee to vary according to how controversial the speech is, that is flat-out unconstitutional, which appears to be what is going on, here.  This is what the Supreme Court said to that:

The costs to which petitioner refers are those associated with the public’s reaction to the speech. Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. …  Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob….  This Court has held time and again: “Regulations which permit the Government to discriminate on the basis of the content of the message cannot be tolerated under the First Amendment.” The county offers only one justification for this ordinance: raising revenue for police services. While this undoubtedly is an important government responsibility, it does not justify a content-based permit fee.


Republicans Hold the Cards in the Debt Ceiling Fight; UPDATE: And Apparently Plan to Fold, As Usual

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:08 am

I read a piece somewhere that argued that Republicans have to vote to increase the debt ceiling, because . . . well, they just have to. (We’re going to hit the ceiling in the next few days, so this is a very topical issue.) The implication of the article is that Republicans’ bargaining position is weak, because they have no choice.

On the contrary. The politics of this says they hold all the cards. Via Hot Air comes a CBS poll that says shows Americans opposed to raising the debt ceiling, by a 2-1 margin.

Since when is it a weak bargaining position to have 2/3 of the country behind your position?

If Republicans are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling — and not to do so will indeed cause financial chaos — they have to extract concessions sufficient that they can credibly say: this is the last such vote we will ever have to have. These concessions prove it.

Decide what concessions are important, demand them, and stick to your demand. Don’t fold when you have all the cards.

Just say: we want this to be the last time we ever raise this ceiling. The Democrats want to raise it forever.

Then say it again. And again. And again.

And don’t let them blame you. Every time they accuse you of wanting to ruin us financially, point out that they have the power to agree to your reasonable demands — which, if they are not met, simply means we will be back in the same position in six months or so. Because, after all: we want this to be the last time we ever raise this ceiling. The Democrats want to raise it forever.

Time to see whether Boehner has the ability to stand firm.

UPDATE: Reason to doubt that he does: this article, which states that lawmakers are planning to give themselves political cover by essentially passing a set of goals and targets — i.e., lip service. The article’s key paragraph:

The tough decisions would come after the debt limit vote, when lawmakers would have to decide each year exactly how to find the needed savings.

Nope. The tough decisions have to be made NOW. When we hold the cards.

But of course, we all know they won’t be.

Get ready to be absolutely infuriated. Again.

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