Good job Dearborn, Michigan. You are managing to turn a despicable, vile human being into a champion of 1st Amendment rights. You are forcing people who think this guy is worthless trash to come to his defense. What’s funny is that it is in the name of tolerance, but this is exactly the opposite of tolerance. Meanwhile the troll gets fatter on all of this attention that he is receiving, just like he wanted all along. In the process, you’ve managed to allow this guy to be on the right side of an issue for once. That’s a pretty neat trick, Dearborn.
The Florida redneck preacher who likes burning Qurans decided that he was going to have a protest in front of the Islamic Center, the largest mosque in America. Of course, the primary purpose of this protest (which I am going to suspect would number in the less than tens) was to draw media attention to himself. The media has actually been doing a pretty decent job recently not playing the preacher’s games. But Dearborn couldn’t leave well enough alone. A prosecutor found an old law from 1846 that requires a person to pay for a “peace bond” if it is believed by a jury that a person will “likely breach the peace”. The result, a judge ruled that the preacher has to pay a $1 bond, but more importantly order the preacher banned from stepping anywhere near the mosque for three years (as a bonus, since the preacher refused to pay the bond, he was thrown into jail for good measure until somebody paid the bond for him).
Sorry, I don’t care about what this preacher has to say, but this blatantly violates his constitutional right to say it. Unpopular speech is the very speech the First Amendment is designed to protect (after all, popular speech needs no protection). There are no qualifiers to the amendment, such as Congress will pass no law abridging the freedom of speech…..unless it pisses somebody off. Or unless it is really stupid. No, we the people have the right to express opinions that are dumb and stupid.
It’s also bothersome that basically this preacher is being punished for something that he hasn’t even done yet. And it is really because people fear what OTHER people might do in response, not fearing the actions of the preacher himself. If OTHER people might start a riot, shouldn’t it be the OTHER people who pay the peace bond? It seems to me that it’s those people who are really breaching the peace.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example, changing the players a bit. Say President Obama decides to hold a campaign event in Dearborn, Michigan. Say that a Tea Party group that finds Obama controversial plans a protest in response. Say a prosecutor fears that the Tea Party protest might get out of hand and “breach the peace”. Are they going to prosecute Obama? Shut his event down? Throw him into jail if he doesn’t pay the “peace bond”? So to stop somebody from exercising their free speech rights, you only have to find a mob that makes the community fear that something bad might happen?
I wished people would just ignore this guy, treat him like the nobody that he is. Or come up with a much better response, such as one Utah Presbyterian church. This Utah church will be handing out free Qurans on Easter Sunday. Included with each Quran will be a bookmark. The bookmark says, “This book was donated by the leaders of Wasatch Presbyterian Church who are not afraid of truth wherever it can be found.” That is awesome! Just about a million times better than Dearborn’s response!