Friday, April 22, 2011


Terry Jones is on trial this morning by a Michigan jury which is going to decide whether or not he can protest at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn without having paid a $100,000 "peace bond."  If that makes you do a double-take and say "Whaa?" I'm right there with you.

If it doesn't, here's why it should: the content of Jones' speech is irrelevant to the matter of whether he should be allowed to protest. The Supreme Court has determined this time and time again. So long as his protest is peaceful he has a right to do it, and you cannot attempt to prevent someone from exercising their rights by charging them an enormous amount of money to do so. Ed at Dispatches writes:
All of this is blatantly unconstitutional. The boundaries of the First Amendment are not determined by juries. And the practice of requiring those who wish to protest to put up bonds before holding controversial protests was declared unconstitutional decades ago by federal courts. 
This principle goes back to the civil rights era, when cities run by racist leaders who wanted to prevent legitimate civil rights marches would try to charge those who organized those protests for the extra police protection needed to keep them safe from the KKK and others who might react violently to them. 
That it now involves someone who preaches against civil rights for Muslims is not a legally relevant difference; the government must protect the right to protest and protect those who engage in protest from violent reaction no matter how heinous the message of the protest may be. . .  
No matter what the jury decides tomorrow, the state court's ruling is baffling and almost certain to be struck down by a higher court if challenged.
The ACLU supports Jones' right to protest, and so do more Dearbon Muslims:
Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney, agrees that Jones has the right to protest. Moughni is not a fan of Jones, having burned him in effigy last year outside his Dearborn home because he had threatened to burn the Quran. Jones later oversaw the burning of a Quran last month. 
But Moughni says it's wrong for the city and county to try to hinder Jones' rights. Moughni added that this is turning Jones into a hero. 
"Instead of him being the bad guy, now he's the hero," Moughni said. "They've turned him into a hero of the First Amendment." 
"The prosecutors should withdraw their demands and let him speak as he wishes, which is his right under the Constitution." 
Update: According to the Detroit Free Press,
A Dearborn jury just 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 

1 comment:

  1. I don't care how idiotic I think your viewpoint is, you should never have the right to protest be taken away.

    I don't think they understand what the requirement of a "peace bond" would ultimately do. This just stinks of an impulse decision.

    Part of being in this country is letting people who you don't agree with have their say. Just like you get to have your say. I hope the jury realizes what kind of precedence this could set.


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