with thanks from reader, Chris.
Dearborn’s First Amendment barbecue
Henry Payne / The Michigan View.com
By burning the First Amendment, Dearborn mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and his Wayne County cronies have managed to make nutty pastor Terry Jones a free speech hero, united the left-wing ACLU and right-wing Thomas More Law Center, stereotyped Muslims as intolerant zealots, and put Dearborn on the map as a bastion of small-town ayatollahs.
With friends like Mayor O’Reilly, who needs enemies?
O’Reilly’s outrageous action against the Quran-burning quack — resulting in a Wayne County jury’s conviction of Jones for planning a demonstration in front to the Dearborn Islamic Center on Good Friday — has made Dearborn the laughingstock of First Amendment constitutionalists everywhere.
“We were arrested for something we had not done,” said Jones, who has retained the conservative More Center in a lawsuit against the City of Dearborn.
“This should have never come to this point to begin with,” said Rana Elmir of the ACLU of Michigan. “The judge should have dismissed the case. It’s a complete abuse of the court process, and all those involved should be ashamed.”
“(District Judge Mark Somers) should have thrown this case out of court immediately,” agreed Wayne State Constitutional scholar Robert Sedler. “And (Wayne County prosecutor) Kym Worthy should know the law. People have a right to use the public street to express their views.”
Alas, Judge Somers only threw gasoline on O’Reilly’s fire by ordering Jones to stay away from the mosque for three years. Worthy defended her prosecution, claiming that “these proceedings were solely about public safety.”
Worthy, Somers and O’Reilly were surely concerned about a repeat of the deadly riots in Afghanistan that erupted after Jones barbecued a Quran last month (not to mention their election chances if they defied Dearborn’s mob). But it’s not hard to see where their paranoid policing of free speech leads.
Should Big Labor be denied the right to protest in Lansing for fear their Snyder-as-Hitler posters would lead to violence? Should Sarah Plain be denied a platform to “target Democrats for defeat” for fear of another Tucson massacre?
Indeed, the Dearborn case comes just weeks after the Westboro Baptist Church won a landmark Supreme Court case protecting right to protest outside military funerals.