Thanks to the ACLU Derek Fenton, Koran-burning transit worker fired from his job after Ground Zero protest, re-hired reports the NY Daily News [22 April 2011]:
A Koran-burning New Jersey Transit worker, fired for his protest near Ground Zero last Sept. 11, is getting his job back – along with an extra $25,000 for his troubles. Derek Fenton, 40, will also collect back pay since his Sept. 13, 2010, dismissal for torching pages of the Muslim holy book on the site of a proposed lower Manhattan Islamic center. The deal additionally pays Fenton $25,000 for pain and suffering and restores his pension credits.
[…] “Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the context of our statements or actions,” Fenton said. “This is the very essence of the First Amendment.”
In related news Florida preacher Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were jailed for planning a peaceful protest (“he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet”) outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. Apparently, according to the judge and jury’s Alice in Wonderland “reasoning”, Jone’s attempt to speak against Islam peacefully would cause some Muslims act violently as they are unable to physically control themselves. (Does not anyone find this demeaning to Muslims who are equated as being rabid dogs who cannot control themselves when they hear the barking of the Florida Priest?) Therefore, as the pro-Islam supporters cannot control themselves Terry Jones should face going to jail!!!!
Apparently Jone’s opponents are allowed to physically surround him and scream in his ear and shout in his face and “chase him away” as show in the video clip:
Reports the Detroit Free Press:
A judge late Friday sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond and barred them from visiting a Dearborn mosque or its adjacent property for three years unless the mosque’s leadership says otherwise. After a short time in jail they left on $1 bond each. The stunning developments 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. Critics slammed the decision to jail them, the court proceedings, and Wayne County prosecutors, saying they violated the men’s Constitutional rights.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.
Chaos broke out outside court as opposing factions yelled at each other. Jones and Sapp were led out of court by Dearborn police. That left Jones’ supporters stunned, given that he hadn’t even attempted to go to the mosque yet.
“This is a true miscarriage of justice,” Elmir said. “Rev. Jones has committed no crime. He should never have been facing jailed time for his protected speech.” [“Terry Jones goes free on $1 bond after jailing; judge bars him from mosque for 3 years”]
I think requiring anything other than a modest, content-neutral permit fee would be unconstitutional, as the Court held in Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). Forsyth County struck down an ordinance that required organizations to pay a security fee (capped at $1000) for “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection [for assemblies] … [that] exceeds the usual and normal costs of law enforcement ….” The Court found the security fee
unconstitutional because, among other reasons, the regulation included no objective standards directing how to establish the level of the fee. Instead, the amount of the security fee was left to the “whim of the administrator.” And even beyond the unconstrained discretion as to the amount, the Court held that a demonstration permit fee can’t be based on the likely risk that audience members will react violently:
The Forsyth County ordinance contains more than the possibility of censorship through uncontrolled discretion. As construed by the county, the ordinance often requires that the fee be based on the content of the
The county envisions that the administrator, in appropriate instances, will assess a fee to cover “the cost of necessary and reasonable protection of persons participating in or observing said … activit[y].” In order to assess accurately the cost of security for parade participants, the administrator “‘must necessarily examine the content of the message that is conveyed,’” estimate the response of others to that content, and judge the number of police necessary to meet that response. The fee assessed will depend on the administrator’s measure of the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content. Those wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers, for example, may have to pay more for their permit….
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.
A sound analysis, it seems to me, and one that would preclude jury-set fees for speakers who “might offend a hostile mob” a well as fees set by government officials. To its credit, the Michigan ACLU has publicly sided with Jones on the constitutional question.
Comments Amy Peikoff:
In addition, this is distinctly unlike restrictions on obscenity or profanity. The ideology of Islam, if adopted and practiced consistently, does appear, from everything I know about it (I plan to learn more, soon, starting with my Koran reading group), to be a threat to our way of life. Freedom to protest against it is as important as freedom to protest against any politician, political party, or political ideology. This is not an issue of defending one’s right to produce or consume tasteless pornography, simply as a matter of principle, so that we can preserve our right to political speech. In my mind, this is an unjustified restraint on political speech itself.
For more on this issue see Amy Peikoff’s post “When is Enough Enough?“