Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wanted: Minority Report

In another defeat for the First Amendment in Dearborn, Dearborn police and Wayne County prosecutors are attempting to impose prior restraint on Terry Jones’s protest against Sharia in front of the Islamic Center of America this Friday.

People argue about whether or not we’re under Sharia here in Dearborn.

I only wonder when we stopped being under the Constitution.

According to the Detroit News: “The prosecutors' petition — ‘a complaint to institute proceedings to prevent crime’ — is believed to be unusual.”

Unusual? I’ll say. I’ve only heard of proceedings to prevent crime in that Tom Cruise movie where people are arrested in the present for “futurecrimes” they’re predicted to commit in the future.

The motion against Jones predicts the "likelihood of a riot ensuing, complete with discharge of firearms." A riot? All Jones said is that he was going to demonstrate against Sharia. He carries a pistol openly, but there’s no evidence he ever threatened to discharge it, nor has he threatened any vandalism against the mosque.

Nonetheless, police chief Ronald Haddad has stated to the court that, "Intelligence received leads me to believe that Pastor Jones will jeopardize the safety of the public by committing an act against the person or property of another in the form[ ] of burning a Koran."

Jones hasn’t announced any intention of burning a Qu’ran. But even if he did, if it’s Terry Jones’s Qu’ran, who is the person, or what is the property of another against which he’s committing an act? Allah and his good name? The followers of Islam and their right to never hear their religion being maligned?

So far it’s still no crime to burn a Qu’ran in Dearborn, America. Unless Haddad has in mind that Hezbollah has declared it an “abominable crime,” and a “cause for warfare” (fitna), to burn a Qu’ran. As far as anything Jones does being a threat to public safety, there’s no conceivable way that burning even a large edition of a Qu’ran in an open space outdoors poses any kind of physical threat to me or any other member of the public – even if the public is standing three feet away. As for a “riot,” Jones will be doing well to get five guys to come along with him.

Still, the FBI has said Hezbollah put a $2.4 million bounty on Jones’s head after he burned that Qu’ran in March. And Dearborn is Hezbollah’s North American headquarters. Frankly, I’ll bet that Terry Jones, who, while deserving of First Amendment protection, still strikes me as on the clueless side, is even aware he’s stepping into Hezbollah territory. Maybe that’s what’s got Haddad worried?

Let’s face it, the whole problem with Jones is that his protests forseeably lead to violent outbursts by Muslims somewhere, even if thousands of miles away. Why not be honest about it?

People are desperate to stop Terry Jones not for being rude, ignorant, inconsiderate, mean, tacky, or for wearing a mustache that went with the Bullmoose Party. It’s because he’s lighting matches beneath a giant sign that says “FLAMMABLE.”

I love free speech. But even I might be reconciled to legal restraints on forms of provocative, but constitutionally protected, acts like burning a Qu’ran. That’s right. With this important condition: that such a regulation includes an explicit finding that adherents of Islam pose a uniquely dangerous risk when criticized, thus necessitating the limit on speech.

What I can’t stand about all this are all the people who are convinced what a reckless son of a bitch Terry Jones is for burning a Qu’ran and provoking untold thousands of Muslims to violence, even while the same people are swearing on the Bible that the Islamic scriptures preach a pacific religion of love and universal brotherhood.

Focus is everything in these kinds of things. Right now, Jones, about whom I know little and could care less, (maybe he is a publicity junkie, who cares?), has placed focus on the violence inherent in Islam. The result is violence and murders by outraged Muslims. When Pope Benedict, whom no fair-minded person would characterize as rude, ignorant, inconsiderate, mean, or tacky, gave a speech in Regensburg, Germany that incidentally placed the focus on the inherent irrationality and violence in Islam, the result was violence and murders by outraged Muslims.

Forget about the morality of it. It’s arithmetic. Take a truly peaceful religion and add the worst slander and the sum is always peace. It’s never revenge, murder, and bloodthirst. It just don’t add up.

That’s why no one’s ever heard of an Ohio feed store being blown up by an Amish suicide bomber. That’s why you never hear about outraged Red Cross workers rampaging against ungrateful aid recipients, as often as we hear about Red Cross workers murdered by angry Muslims. That’s why on the first Good Friday Jesus didn’t call on 10,000 legions of angels to incinerate His false accusers.

The truth of it is, no one’s scared about Jones or similar protesters because Muslim feelings might get unfairly hurt. We’re scared because Muslims have a well-earned reputation for violence whenever their religion is dissed, and we don’t want anybody to get killed.

And they’re desperate to get the focus off that. And not because it’s a ludicrous mischaracterization.

Which brings us to how, whenever this particular debate over free speech vs. Islam comes up, it’s never long before someone trots out that recognized exception about “shouting fire in a crowded theater.” Lindsay Graham said it only a couple weeks back during his incomprehensible comments on Terry Jones. The exception against shouting fire was an existential recognition that the deadly stampede surely resulting when you combine a close-packed crowd, with the irresistible flight instinct when that crowd is suddenly threatened with being trapped in a fire. The safety of the theatergoers outweighs the shouter’s right to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

Importantly, the crowded-theater exception also assumes that there is no fire. If there’s a fire, you can shout all you want.

But what I want to know is, if Jones is the shouter, then who is the crowd in the theater? The implied comparison is unmistakable. To me, anyhow, though no one wants to say it out loud. Muslims, when confronted about an admittedly grievous but non-violent attack upon their religion, (or propagandized at Friday prayers), are expected to react with an instinctual and violent disregard for life comparable to what one might witness in a mob of theater-goers heedlessly crushing their neighbors to escape death by fire. A crowd in such an emergency is inhuman, per se, precisely because it’s mindless, beyond reason, and driven only by a blind instinct to survive. It’s a natural, death-wreaking force.

I think Dearborn’s Muslims (saving any cold-blooded Hezbollah agent bent on that $2.4 mil), are a mindless, unthinking mob. I believe they can endure Terry Jones’s protest without “a riot ensuing, complete with discharge of firearms.” But them I’m only what commonly passes for an Islamophobe. The people who use that term for people like me don’t think the Muslims in Afghanistan or Yemen or Pakistan or Sudan have any control over themselves. Ridiculous, n’est-ce pas?

But you know who said they do have free will?

Terry Jones did.

That hick Bible-thumper with the bad mustache. He said that “there is no excuse for what happened in Afghanistan, and we do not believe we are responsible. People are responsible for their own actions. If anything this proves there is a radical element to Islam.”<

Has Qazwini said that?

If you have an argument against that, I’d love to hear it.

Happy Easter.


'nuff already said...

Okay, suppose I buy into your proposition that there may exist circumstances under
which one’s constitutional rights may be subject to legal restraint, but only in those instances where such restraint carries with it a warning by the surgeon general claiming that clinging to your constitutional rights may result in your untimely death or the death of someone (or many someones) halfway round the world that you don’t even know.

Jones rather than being vilified should be reviled. After all, as your article so succinctly states he has hit the bulls eye when it comes to identifying the problem as being the violence intrinsic to islam.

Jones may be crazy, but in my opinion it’s crazy like a fox. Why bother traveling to Dearborn? Surely his corner of Florida has no shortage of mosques from which to stage a protest. So why Dearborn? Aside from the ICA being the largest mosque in the US, perhaps Dearborn has the potential of being a potentially more incendiary venue. If I recall, it was not too long ago that a Christian group (I believe you quantified it elsewhere as an evangelical Christian group, in an effort to distinguish it from a mere mainstream Christian group perhaps?) was given one of those world famous loving and peaceful muslim welcomes at an Arab (i.e., muslim) street festival held in the city streets of Dearborn and billed by its promoters (the muslim brotherhood???) as a public event open to all. (I guess they forget to add all who want to tow the muslim party line, dissenters and those with differing viewpoints need not attend). As we know several of the Christians were arrested for the unthinkable crime of handing out, or attempting to hand out, Christian tracts. Yet another instance where legal restraint is needed?

Perhaps Jones will be treated to the same warm and peaceful greeting? One can only hope! Maybe Jones is just the spark needed to set the local muslim population ablaze, or at least cause it to cave in on itself and let the rest of us see once and for all the true muslim agenda for America. Again, one can only hope.

Oh, and welcome back!

'nuff already said...

Ooops...did not mean to write that ... Jones rather than being vilified should be reviled....meant to say...Jones rather than being vilified should be commended... though I'm sure there are some who think reviled the perfect word!

T.R. Clancy said...

Obviously Jones didn't receive a warm and peaceful greeting, as the footage of the hateful crowds mobbing his supporters illustrates.

Jones says he picked Dearborn because the ICA is the largest mosque in North America.

I know every one is denigrating his intelligence, and I even did a little (he didn't know this was Good Friday), but I have to say I was impressed at his performance at the trial. I think he can win on appeal, and I hope he does appeal.