Friday, December 04, 2015

Court rules Bible Believers should not have been thrown out Arab American fest

At last a conclusion to this much noted case -- and a victory for free speech.  It's an important free speech case so I am giving the full article below

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday found that Wayne County violated the constitutional rights of a group of religious proselytizers who were kicked out of an Arab-American cultural festival in 2012.

In a rare reversal of a previous decision from three-judge appeals court panel, an en banc review by 15 judges yielded a majority ruling that Wayne County is civilly liable to the group of evangelical Christians who sued after being ordered to leave the festival by sheriff's deputies.

The court found that even though the group attended the festival with the intention of offending Muslims using "loathsome" messages of "gross intolerance," their speech is protected by the First Amendment, and should have been protected by the sheriff's office.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Detroit federal court by Ruben Chavez, Arthur Fisher, and Joshua DeLosSantos, a group known as the Bible Believers.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan threw out the case, and an earlier appeals ruling upheld that decision, but the Wednesday opinion overturns the first two, ordering the case back to the lower court for calculation of damages.

"The only references to violence or lawlessness on the part of the Bible Believers were messages such as, 'Islam is a Religion of Blood and Murder,' 'Turn or Burn,' and 'Your prophet is a pedophile.' These messages, however offensive, do not advocate for, encourage, condone, or even embrace imminent violence or lawlessness," the majority found in an opinion written by U.S. 6th Circuit Judge Eric L. Clay.

"Although it might be inferred that the Bible Believers' speech was intended to anger their target audience, the record is devoid of any indication that they intended imminent lawlessness to ensue. Quite to the contrary, the Bible Believers contacted Wayne County prior to their visit, requesting that the WCSO keep the public at bay so that the Bible Believers could 'engage in their peaceful expression.'"

The group was asked to leave the Dearborn festival on June 15, 2012, after an extended period of tense, somewhat violent interaction between the proselytizers and a crowd of youths, some of whom threw bottles and other objects including a milk crate at the men.

"As they had done the previous year, the Bible Believers traveled to the Festival so that they could exercise their sincerely held religious beliefs," Clay wrote. "Unfortunately for the Festival-goers, those beliefs compelled (Chavez) and his followers to hurl words and display messages offensive to a predominantly Muslim crowd, many of whom were adolescents. These messages were written on their tee-shirts and on the banners and signs that they carried... In addition to the signs, one of the Bible Believers carried a severed pig's head on a spike, because, in Israel's own words, it would 'ke[ep] [the Muslims] at bay' since 'unfortunately, they are kind of petrified of that animal.'"

The lawsuit against he Wayne County sheriff claimed deputies failed to protect the group or stop the crowd from throwing objects.

Deputies cited one 21-year-old man who was caught throwing a bottle, and issued three verbal warnings to three juveniles who were briefly detained and released to their parents.

At least one youth tried to get the crowd to ignore the group, and at least one parent scolded a teen for participating, but most of the threatening behavior by the crowd toward the group went unchecked, the court found.

Video footage of the incident showed deputies telling Chavez they could not provide officers for every group that wanted to roam the festival.

And eventually, deputies told the proselytizers they would be cited for disorderly conduct if they didn't leave the festival, which they then did.

"This case calls on us to confirm the boundaries of free speech protections in relation to angry, hostile, or violent crowds that seek to silence a speaker with whom the crowd disagrees," Clay wrote.

"Set against the constitutional right to freedom of speech, we must balance the state's interest in insuring public safety and preventing breaches of the peace. The scenario presented by this case, known as the 'heckler's veto,' occurs when police silence a speaker to appease the crowd and stave off a potentially violent altercation... Bearing in mind the interspersed surges of ethnic, racial, and religious conflict that from time to time mar our national history, the constitutional lessons to be learned from the circumstances of this case are both timeless and markedly seasonable.

"In this opinion we reaffirm the comprehensive boundaries of the First Amendment's free speech protection, which envelopes all manner of speech, even when that speech is loathsome in its intolerance, designed to cause offense, and, as a result of such offense, arouses violent retaliation."

The festival, held annually for 17 years, ceased to exist after legal trouble stemming from the incident arose.


So the aggressive Muslims who attacked the Christians ended up by closing down their own festival


Anonymous said...

One religion attacks another - quel surpise! The history of the World is more or less that!)

Bird of Paradise said...

Hey CAIR go Screw It

Anonymous said...

Muslims can't handle the truth that their prophet was a drug addled pedophile who stole form other religions. Islam is a cult not a religion.-

Anonymous said...

The only difference between a cult and a religion is how many members it has. Christianity was originally just one of various small Jewish cults, but with the help of Saul of Tarsus and later the mother of a Roman Emperor it became a World religion (though inevitably splitting into numerous more cults or sects, some of which grew big enough to be called a religion or at least a religious denomination).

Anonymous said...

Ring Wing Christians vs. Muslims. Ha! Let them kill each other. The world would be a better place.