Dearborn Responds

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mayor O'Reilly, a fine Irish-American
I missed this, but apparently the Mayor of Dearborn, Jack O'Reilly, wrote an open letter to "Pastor" Terry Jones before Terry's silly protest.

Click that link. It's a great letter; cogent, calm, well-put. Some highlights:
I watched you on television speaking about the Constitution and Dearborn, and it appears you need more information about both before you come to our city.


The Constitution says that your rights must be balanced with the rights of others under the same document. Your free speech rights do not allow you to trespass on the private property of others or prevent them from the Constitutional right to freely practice their religion. I am not just talking about Muslims but members of all faiths.

The members of the Christian churches on Altar Road asked me last week if they should cancel their Good Friday services because of your planned visit. I assured them that they should not because the Constitution does not allow you to violate their rights. I don’t know why you selected Good Friday but it wasn’t very considerate of the significant Christian services being held at that time. I assure you that you will not make them forfeit their services.


There is no Sharia Law in Dearborn, only Constitutional Law. Sharia Law is church- or faith-based law that is applicable only to the followers of that faith...The actual originator of the event you plan to hold in Dearborn, Frank Fiorello of the Fraternal Order of the Dragon, accepted my invitation to learn more about Dearborn, and after seeing the truth, he canceled his protest.

But, if you don’t believe that Dearborn follows the Constitution, here are some realistic facts for you. Businesses in Dearborn lawfully meet the diverse needs of our Greater Detroit area, but if Dearborn practiced Sharia Law, would we have ... more alcohol licensed bars and restaurants per capita than most other cities? None of that should be allowed under Sharia Law.

How about this? A business we boast about, the nationally known Dearborn Sausage, opened more than 60 years ago across the street from the first mosque in Dearborn and is famous for its sausages and spiral sliced hams. It is one of many meat packing operations in our City and no one has ever objected. [Sharia Law expressly forbidding pork; note added by me]

Dearborn is also famous for The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, where more than 1.5 million visitors come each year from across the country and the world to learn about the foundations of our American way of life.
I could go on, but you get the point. It's a nice letter. It plays Terry for the fool he is and in essence plays anyone small-minded enough to believe his or other reactionaries' hype and nonsense.

His closer is spot on: "As we work hard to balance your rights with the rights of others in Dearborn, you will be extended every courtesy during your visit – as long as you follow the law based on the Constitution’s protection of everyone’s rights. That should be a familiar statement to you."


Bob 8:58 AM  

Mayor: "You state that you are coming to the Islamic Center of America because it is the largest mosque in America. What does that have to do with the radicalism of Islam? While size may matter to you...

Was that a dick joke?

Smitty 10:27 AM  

I believe Mayor O'Reilly indeed made a dick joke. Why else put that in there, other than to poke fun at his poker?

Bob 10:42 AM  

To drop a deniable dick joke into a fine discussion of constitutionality, while praising your own city is a sign of one fine writer.

steves 2:42 PM  

Excellent use of a dick joke aside, I do have some minor quibbles.

The Constitution says that your rights must be balanced with the rights of others under the same document.

No, it doesn't really say this. I don't think it is an unreasonable belief to balance rights, but we need to be careful about going down this road. Over the last decade, we have heard that privacy rights must be balanced against public safety concerns.

Smitty 9:06 PM  

I think his point, in trying hard to cram complex constitutional concerns into a very short letter, is to say that your right to free speech doesn't trump other individual right I have. He explains himself well in the very next sentence to that one. It seems he is playing fast and loose with the constitution too, nut he's just being brief. He's right: Jones' free speech can't interfere with my ability to practice religion.

Put another way: a Quaker's pacifism can't stop me from owning guns.

So in a somewhat limited sense, Mayor O'Reilly is correct.

steves 6:18 AM  

Just a pet peeve of mine and it probably only bothers a small number of Constitutional nerds.

Ideally, he should have just left the Constitution mostly out of the discussion and said that while he respects the rights of crazy people to protest, there can be some reasonable limits on when and how this can happen.

Smitty 7:57 AM  

We do play fast and loose with the constitution here at ATK.

Strangely, my "word verification" is "quiner". I believe random letters have evolved themselves into a new word; a whiny quitter, or, quitting whiner. A "quiner."

Monk-in-Training 7:28 PM  

probably only bothers a small number of Constitutional nerds

I noticed that myself, Steves. Coming from an engineering background, I am quite a sticker for detail.

That being said, the letter was a very well written response to idiocy. I especially liked how the Mayor pointed out that Mr. Jones' event would be disturbing the worship of several Christian Churches, on one of our holiest days.

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