Free Speech Trumps Dearborn's 'Anti-Blasphemy' Efforts
Yesterday,Pastor Terry Jones staged a peaceful protest against the global jihadist imperative to impose the totalitarian Sharia in defiance of the Dearborn community's transparent effort to assuage the tender sensibilities of its large Muslim community by imposing de facto Sharia-based "blasphemy" (and anti-proselytization) provisions.
Bolstered by the decision United States District Judge, the Honorable Denise Page Hood rendered Thursday, April 5, 2012 (hat tip TROP), Jones delivered his remarks against the imposing backdrop of Dearborn's Islamic Center of America.
Judge Hood's decision, issued three days ago, elucidated the eminently reasonable grounds for Jones's demonstration, entirely consistent with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, and peaceable assembly:
On April 2, 2012, Plaintiffs Stand Up America Now, Wayne Sapp ("Sapp") and Terry Jones("Jones") filed a two-count Complaint against Defendants City of Dearborn and Ronald Haddad alleging: Freedom of Speech-First Amendment (42 U.S.C. § 1983) (First Claim) and Freedom of Expressive Association-First Amendment (42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Second Claim). On April 4, 2012,Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. The Court addresses the motion below.Stand Up America Now is a religious organization incorporated in the State of Florida(Comp., ¶ 7) Stand Up America Now's purpose is to proclaim the Holy Bible to Muslims and to educate people about the threat of Sharia law to our Nation's fundamental principles of freedom bytraveling around the country speaking about Christianity at Muslim events and mosques. (Comp., ¶ 8) Sapp and Jones, Christian ministers, are founders and leaders of Sand Up America Now.(Comp., ¶¶ 9-10)
Plaintiffs seek to further their ministry by speaking to the public from the grassy across from the Dearborn Islamic Center on Saturday, April 7, 2 012 regarding the dangers of Sharia lawand how it threatens American freedoms. (Comp., ¶ 14) Plaintiffs also plan to distribute a flyerwhich includes Stand Up America Now's contact information and a quotation from the Holy Bible: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father exceptthrough me.' John 14:6." (Comp., ¶¶ 16-17) Plaintiffs chose the particular location in Dearborn because Sharia law is the religious law of Islam and the mosque represents Islam. (Comp., ¶ 18)Plaintiffs believe that Sharia law limits freedoms, including the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. (Comp., ¶ 19) Plaintiffs chose the event date of Saturday, April 7, 2012, because it is HolySaturday in the Christian religion, the day after Jesus Christ died on the cross in the ultimatesacrifice and the day before Easter Sunday, the foundation of the Christian religion when Plaintiffsbelieve that God gave mankind new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Moreover, Judge Hood firmly rejected Dearborn's disingenuous ploy to pre-empt Jones's demonstration, in violation of his First Amendment rights:
The "Release, Waiver of Liability, and Hold Harmless Agreement" presented to Plaintiffs by the City of Dearborn states: 'In consideration for the right to utilize City of Dearborn property, Standup America! and Wayne Sapp, their employees, representatives, agents, and participants agree to RELEASE AND FOREVER DISCHARGE the City of Dearborn, a municipal corporation, and its officers, employees, and agents, from any and all claims, liabilities, or lawsuits, including legal costs and reasonable attorney fees, resulting from their activities on the City of Dearborn property.' This is clearly an unconstitutional clause which impedes Plaintiffs' First Amendment right to free speech and assembly. The clause encompasses not only liability for physical harm to the permittees, but also for deprivation of permittees' constitutional rights. "We think it obvious that permittees cannot be required to waive their right to hold the City liable for its otherwise actionable conduct as a condition of exercising their right to free speech." [Long Beach Area Peace Network, 574 F.3d at 1040.] The clause also requires permittees to assume legal and financial responsibility even for those activities at the event that are outside of the permittee's control, including activities of the City. The ordinance requiring the indemnity agreement and the "Hold and Harmless" presented to Plaintiffs are unconditional and violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as to Plaintiffs and others who wish to exercise their rights to speak an assemble in the public fora.
Thus Judge Hood issued a restraining order against the city of Dearborn, ruling:
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. No. 5, filed4/4/2012) is GRANTED pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants are enjoined from requiring Plaintiffs to sign the agreement entitled, "Release, Waiver of Liability, and Hold Harmless Agreement," (Comp., Ex.1) prior to Plaintiffs holding their event on April 6, 2012. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that although Plaintiffs have not addressed the security requirement set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(c), the Court will not require a security since the matter involves a constitutional issue affecting the public. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs file a proof of service that Defendants were served with this Order.
At today's demonstration Jones ejected allegations that he is a "racist," Jones simply observing, "Not true. Islam is a religion, not a race. I am not a racist." He also disavowed any notion that "all Muslims" are radicalized, adding,
I believe the majority of the people who attend this mosque behind me believe in the Constitution. But there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If only 5 percent of them are radicals that represents 80 million people who are a threat.
Jones apparently also issued a call for a non-violent protest sure to evoke the ire of apologists for mainstream Islam's rejection of basic freedom of conscience -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike: a worldwide Koran burning demonstration on April 28, 2012 if imprisoned Iranian pastor and so-called "apostate" from Islam, Youssef Nadarkhani, isn't granted freedom from a looming death sentence.
But even Jones's most potentially inflammatory statement -- certainly "blasphemous" according to Islamic, but not US constitutional law -- was tempered:
Mohammad was a liar, a pedophile and a false prophet. I believe that as a Christian. But as an American who believes in the Constitution I believe they [Muslims] have the right to practice their beliefs under the freedom of religion.
Terry Jones's comments today provided an additional moral validation to Judge Hood's appropriate legal ruling, protecting his -- and our -- precious First Amendment freedoms.