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)
[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.
Throughout the day, Jones said he’s coming to protest jihad and Sharia law and has no plans to burn Qurans or images of Muhammad.
“We are not criminals,” said Jones, who wore jeans and a black Harley Davison T-shirt to court. “All we want to do is exercise our First Amendment rights.”
Jones, 59, founder and president of Stand Up America Now!, acted as an 19th District Court trial today over the city’s decision to deny him a permit or set a “peace bond” to protest jihad and Sharia law on public land near the Islamic Center of America later this afternoon.
As a large contingent of police were outside, Jones rested his case after calling only two witnesses — a Texas pastor and Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a settler of the west bank, an educator in the los Angeles school district and an avid surfer who founded Jewish Surfers International.
“I do not intend to incite a riot,” Shifren said.
There are some specific lines that are worth pulling out:
Jones argued the Quran “promotes terrorist activities around the world.” Jones infamously conducted a burning of a Quran in March along with pastor Wayne Sapp, 42. The incident was blamed for an outbreak of violence in Afghanistan that led to several deaths.
So, um, you’re saying he was right? Is that your final answer?
Jones and Sapp squared off against Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad over Haddad’s denial of a permit based on intelligence information that Jones might burn a Quran later today. Haddad confirmed that Jones and his group never indicated they would burn a Quran.
“I have no evidence to back up my fears,” Haddad said, “but your behavior in the past has led me to that fear.”
So what? He has a right to do it if he chooses to.
Haddad testified there is a potential for danger if Jones carries through with the protest.
He said he’s received information involving two individuals from the city’s southeast side who are being investigated for threats on Jones and promising violence at the protests. Haddad wouldn’t elaborate, but said during a break that the city has received another e-mailed threat about Jones’ plans.
Jesus, so we are going to reduce his freedom because someone emailed you a nasty note on your Blackberry?
Haddad said he feared Jones and his group would put the people of Dearborn in danger because Jones had shown a disregard for life in the past.
“He has shown a careless disregard for loss of life,” Haddad said. “He has shown a disregard for his own life.”
Right, Jones even had the complete lack of regard to say, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Oh, wait, that wasn’t him…
It is depressing that in two hundred years too many of us have gone from “Live Free or Die” to “oh no, we better not say that or they will kill us.”
One interesting wrinkle is that he is willing to wait until the trial is over before deciding whether to continue his protest:
Jones said today he had thought of the possibility of getting up and leaving if his jury trial is still going on at the time of his demonstration. But Jones instead said he will schedule the protest for next Friday if today’s proceeding stretches on.
“We’re going to continue with the protest,” Jones said this morning.
Which ironically gives the judge and a jury a positive incentive to just drag their feet. Hopefully they will have more class than that.
And it is also worth noting that Dearborn, Michigan has had issues with freedom of speech and religion in the past. For instance, here is a Muslim convert getting arrested at a Muslim festival for peacefully proselytizing:
And here are several missionaries being arrested for pamphleting outside the same festival:
Now admittedly I hate pamphleteers myself, but that is beside the point when the issue is freedom of expression. Jihadwatch covers when the men were acquitted of charges of “disturbing the peace” (notice we are seeing that bogus concern again). Look at the conduct in that video again. Do those men look the least bit dangerous? Indeed, was anyone disturbing the peace—either the Christians or the Muslims reacting to them?
And dickweed Mayor Jack O’Reilly appears in the acquittal story, too:
Even after the acquittals, Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, continued his ongoing and unprecedented personal attacks on the Christian evangelists, accusing them of being anti–Muslim bigots. O’Reilly’s continuous anti-Christian rhetoric was clearly an attempt to curry favor with Dearborn’s large Muslim population, which also explains the Police Department’s alarming mobilization to arrest the four Christians.
There have also been many different suits against them as this Thomas More Law Center Search of the word “Dearborn” suggests. The story is frankly moving too fast to detangle all the threads right now, but it is clear that Dearborn has a freedom problem. Which for all we know, might be why Pastor Jones is there today.
Update: In what has to be the dumbest commentary on Jones, Kyle Daly wonders, “Hey, what does the Klan think of Terry Jones?” It turns out that they don’t like him.
Yeah, so let’s review. Jones says that Islam inspires terrorism. And that’s a bad thing in his book. Then a terrorist organization (the KKK) says they don’t like Jones. Also an organization that has historically been against freedom, is against Jones’ freedom.
And so now Daly thinks this is a reason to oppose Jones?
As the fight over Florida pastor Terry Jones’s crusade against Islam carries on in court, at least one barometer has surfaced that provides a sign of just how objectionable Jones is to people across the political spectrum. Earlier this week, Reddit users discovered a series of press releases from the Ku Klux Klan denouncing Florida pastor Terry Jones for his “ignorant,” “despicable” and “un-American” burning of the Koran. The discovery has gotten a good deal of attention around the Internet since it hit the web Monday night.
Besides, you idiot, maybe they are doing this to you…
It is admittedly sociologically interesting to wonder what they think of that sort of thing, but as a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t take your cues about what is acceptable conduct from the Klan. Duh.
Meanwhile a more positive article states:
Muslims vow to confront Terry Jones rally with peace
The regularly scheduled Friday afternoon prayer took place at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn today, as Muslims in this community await a rally by Pastor Terry Jones that some believe could smear their beliefs.
In the main hallway leading into the city’s largest mosque, people stopped to sign a laminated scroll of paper that those of all faiths were signing.
“We as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear…” the heading on the scroll begins….
Well, you should start with Mayor O’Reilly, who apparently thinks that Muslims cannot withstand offense without lashing out.
Rami Faraj, 17, of Dearborn attended the afternoon prayer. “He’s preaching hate, we’re preaching peace,” he said. “He’s clearly doing this for show. Let’s not give him any attention.”
Which is the best way to handle it. Jones says that Islam is dangerous. So does Mayor O’Reilly. Prove them wrong.
Update (III): The ACLU files a brief on Jones’ behalf. I can’t find a copy of it, but here’s a key passage from an article on it:
The ACLU’s brief argued that the government cannot suppress speech by making Jones pay a bond based on the cost of police services necessary for anticipated actions of others, calling it an “unconstitutional prior restraint of free speech.” The group also cites a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that said it’s unconstitutional to have a group bear the cost of police protection due to the content of their message.
Former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga agreed the procedure being used against Jones runs contrary to Supreme Court precedent.
“There appears to be no evidence, no allegation even that Rev. Jones has made a threat against a person or has made a threat against the property of another,” Marlinga said. “The Dearborn Police and Wayne County prosecutor are mixing apples and oranges.”
Marlinga said regardless of the outcome of today’s trial, Jones will have grounds for legal action. The city is better off if it loses in court today, because they “won’t have this mistake to be looking at,” Marlinga said.
“Even if you think someone will say something that will inflame a crowd, you cannot use the court process in advance to rule on whether or not a person can speak,” he said. “Constitutionally, you just can’t do it. You can’t say if you don’t put up money for a bond we’re not going to let you speak.”
Exactly. Let’s hope everyone starts to see reason, and soon.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]