The Limits of Free Speech

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pastor Terry Jones seems to be giving Fred Phelps competition for the title of most offensive 'christian'. His latest stunt brings him to my state where he plans on staging a rally in front of a Dearborn Mosque against "the radical element of Islam." Local officals have expressed concern that things may get out of hand and have asked him to put of money to help pay for some of the massive amount of security that will have to be deployed. He has refused and there is a hearing scheduled later today to decide if he has to pay.

Not surprisingly, the ACLU has come out in support of the right of Terry Jones to protest and said that the government cannot impnge on someone's free speech rights. I can see both sides of this and the fact that Jones is so offensive makes it hard to support him in any way. This would be a security nightmare. Jones has a 1.2 million dollar bounty on his head from some Pakistani group and I am sure that there are many others that want him dead. On the other hand, with 'free speech zones' and other similar pratcices, are we seeing a gradual erosion of free speech rights? What kinds of constraints should the state put on groups when they want to protest? The Supreme Court has said time and time again, that content-based restrictions are unconstitutional, so does this amount to a de facto contetnt-based restriction?

Personally, I wish that the media and everyone else would ignore this guy, but that isn't going to happen. In the alternative, I would like to see a massive, peaceful, counter-protest.


Smitty 2:25 PM  

I hate that he gets to say what he wants to say and to protest whatever he wants.

I think, pure speculation here, that he sees the PR that Westboro gets, and the money, and I wonder if he wants to follow suit. Maybe gets a little piece of that action too.

I see the 1st amendment talks about "peaceable" assembly. If you are assembling for the purposes of inciting a riot, I would assume you're no longer protected by the 1st amendment? And maybe that's the point Dearborn is trying to make; he ain't coming here to march around silently and carry signs decrying violence and raining against burkhas. He's coming here to stir shit, and that's where "peaceable assembly" ends.

Bob 3:16 PM  

In a related moronic incident:

Police: Terry Jones accidentally fires gun in TV station parking lot

Lansing State Journal:

steves 7:55 PM  

He's an even bigger assbag than previously thought. Despite what some may think, guns don't go off unless you pull the trigger. I wonder what he was doing.

Streak 10:47 AM  

Interesting question about paying for security. I hate this guy, but there is a part of me that thinks that security is something we all pay for and should all pay for, even for asshats like this.

steves 2:05 PM  

Under most circumstances, I think the city would just pick up the tab for security. They claimed that they didn't gave the resources incubus case, given the 1 million plus bounty on this dipshit and his propensity for causing trouble.

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