Rights: A Primer

Unless something else went on that no one is admitting, I have to agree with the righties on this one. Merely standing in a public area and handing out literature is not “disorderly conduct.”

So, no matter that I think it’s a damnfool thing to do, if Christian proselytizers are standing in a public area next to the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, and silently handing out copies of the Gospel, I don’t see how they could be afoul of the law. Of course, it’s possible the area wasn’t really public, or that stuff went on that wasn’t captured on video camera. But until I hear otherwise I have to assume the arrests were not justified.

And it strikes me that handing out Gospels outside a Muslim festival is is a blatant act of territorial marking. The message is less “come to Jesus” than “you’re not one of us, and don’t forget it.” But as long as they weren’t literally pissing on trees, the “markers” have a right to do that.

Another explanation might be that the area was a designated “free speech buffer” zone, like big chunks of Manhattan became during the 2004 Republican Convention. Allahpundit writes that the Dearborn incident is “one of the most ridiculous First Amendment violations you’ll ever see,” but I say it doesn’t come close to citizens being rounded up in orange nets and hauled away to detention just because they might get unruly.

In other news, the remains of 72 people, killed on September 11, were sifted out of debris that had been removed from under Manhattan’s West Side Highway. This story triggered a hearty round of chest-thumping on several rightie blogs.

It also triggered renewed outrage about plans to build a mosque two blocks from the “ground zero” site. Sorry righties; there are churches and synagogues in the same area. Equal protection under the law, and all that. You can’t complain about peaceful proselytizers in Dearborn and then deny a building permit to Muslims in Manhattan, just because they’re Muslims.

24 thoughts on “Rights: A Primer

  1. Look, maha, in this time of financial difficulty, the Chritianista’s don’t have to spend money sending their religious troops to the Holy Land. They can wage a Crusade right there on a streetcorner in Dearborn, or any area that has any Muslims. It saves on the overhead, and they can put the savings into ads against abortion and gay marriage, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, or whatever today’s anti-humanist screed from The FRC is.

    Seriously, I don’t like what was done, either. Especially the ‘disappearing’ of peoples video evidence, by confiscation, of what may, or may not, have happened.
    Sometimes, though, it is the duty of the police to prevent potential trouble. Just as these Christianist nuts can’t and won’t be convinced to convert to Islam, so the Islamisist nuts can’t and won’t be convinced to convert to Christianity.* No matter how hard eveyone tries and prays. The police may have decided that this could be construed as antagonizing someone, or something to that effect. Of course, without any video evidence, it’s a ‘he said,’ ‘she said,’and ‘the police said,’ situation. And we know who wins that argument nowaday’s, don’t we?
    The Taser company.

    *Why we can’t let people worship the God of their choice in peace is, of course, beyond me. But, then, I’m not a religious nut who thinks the world needs to be totally cashew, and that if they don’t convert, that all filburts, Brazil, hazel and pea nuts need to be roasted in Hell for all eternity!

  2. I don’t know about Dearborn, but here in southern CA if you plan to stage a demonstration’ you’re required to run it by the local police beforehand. Failure to do so just might get you arrested.

    This Muslim/pseudo Christian (and latest Jewish) thing is certainly fodder for those who believe ‘religion’ to be the primary cause of all strife in the world. The latest aboration of all reason and common sense is the declaration by some Israelis that two of the oldest Mosques in Jerusalem are to be leveled and replaced with Temples because ‘probably’ there were Temples there in the first place.

    The proselytizers in Dearborn, the Mosque razers in Jerusalem can only be described as running an ongoing game of “Piss Off.”

    • I don’t know about Dearborn, but here in southern CA if you plan to stage a demonstration’ you’re required to run it by the local police beforehand. Failure to do so just might get you arrested.

      That could be it, although I question whether three or four guys handing out Gospels rises to the level of “demonstration.”

  3. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on 9/11. Given religious demographics, it is reasonable to assume that some of them were muslims, whose families grieved just as deeply as did the Christian families.

    Having said that, as long as the folks handing out religious pamphlets were not doing so on government property, blocking traffic, inciting violence, being unruly or violating some local ordinance, beats me why they were nailed for it.

  4. In other news, the remains of 72 people, killed on September 11, were sifted out of debris that had been removed from under Manhattan’s West Side Highway. This story triggered a hearty round of chest-thumping on several rightie blogs.

    Um, because dead Americans are awesome?

  5. I think that proselytizing during an Arab festival is rude and anyone who tells me they’re trying to save souls is going to get a condescending chortle from me.

    However, that the police feel they can arrest people with impunity *is* a serious issue. I do hope that all the people who are complaining about this are furious that someone arrested Professor Gates for allegedly being an ass in the privacy of his home (and don’t tell me that he was outside of his home – the cop’s own words are that he tried to draw Gates outside, and the cop’s description of the events show that the cop engaged in techniques to escalate, rather than de-escalate, the situation).

    In both cases, we see that cops are using their discretion to make an arrest in a manner that appears intended to impinge on the freedom of citizens. In both cases, one can presume that the cops saw the arrestees as possible troublemakers who needed to be taught a lesson (cops *do not* want trouble, and proselytizing at an Arab gathering can be seen as intended to possibly start trouble).

    Boy. I’m glad I was pissed off when Gates was arrested. It means no one can question my anger when these people were arrested (assuming they weren’t actually being disorderly).

    Of course, I’m sure the righties will use the defense of the intellectually dishonest: “But this is different.” Yeah, it’s *always* different.

  6. You can’t complain about peaceful proselytizers in Dearborn and then deny a building permit to Muslims in Manhattan, just because they’re Muslims.

    You can if you contend that the whole separation of church and state thing is stupid in a fundamentalist Christian country. They don’t think the way that we do. Doing something for the glory of God is ample justification of an otherwise bad act. In this, they are very similar to Islamic fanatics. It amuses me that they don’t recognize this.

    Sometimes, though, it is the duty of the police to prevent potential trouble.

    Hmmm. Every year for a good long while (do they still do it?), the Illinois Nazi Party held a parade in Skokie, Illinois, a Chicago suburb with a heavy Jewish population. Of course, they got a permit and had ample police on hand to prevent potential trouble

    I think the Dearborn situation is fundamentally the same. If the Christians had a permit, this should not have been a problem.

  7. Good. I hope the police lump them up too, so that they can have their Christian testimony enhanced. “Oh, how we suffered for Christ”. Maybe they can sit in their jail cell and sing psalms and praises like Paul and Silas did, and hope that the cell door crumbles in answer to their faithfulness to Jesus.

    They are a bunch of misguided assholes who went looking for confrontation by trying to stuff Jesus down peoples throats at a Muslim event. That’s the way to win souls? Who would Jesus badger by threat of eternal damnation if you don’t worship him?

    There’s a big difference between passing out Christian tracts in silence to spread your Christian message and screaming in peoples faces that they’re damned to the fires of hell if they don’t abandon the faith of their fathers and accept Jesus as their Lord. No question they were disorderly…as per their( or their fellows laborers in Christ) conduct in the video. Poor,poor persecuted Christians!

  8. While the cops mad a bad call, I can see how it came about.

    One of the organizers for the Arab event probably called the police. “Hey, we got some christian thumpers bugging people at our festival and one or more will achieve martydom if you don’t get someone down here.”

    The cops showed up and the complaint was true – the thumpers were trying hard as they could to become the victims of a confrontation with the evil muslims.

    That leaves three options for the cops – 1) Do nothing since no law was broken (yet). 2) Haul off the thumpers for their own protection. 3) Post a couple of cops for the duration of the event to keep the sides separated.

    My opinion is that #3 should have been the call. The first option might have levt someone dead and sent a hothead to jail for life. The disadvantage of #3 is that it’s expensive for the city – and that’s what drove the decision.

  9. Today I’m at the Wendy’s restaurant at the Mango exit off I-4,
    A homeless guy goes into apparent cardiac distress,
    I’m trained in CPR, so I’m monitoring him for vital signs as the paramedics are on the way. A woman comes by and says she’ll pray for him and she splits, doesn’t volunteer to go across the street for asprin or anything, just leaves!
    I’m sick of dumb fucks, and there seems to be an endless supply of them.When the paramedics arrive one of them says “what’s happening today, Robert?”
    I later got a call from my wife saying I’ve been served with a law suit because my deceased brother who was a disfunctional alcholic with chemo brain got into a car accident, and the insurance company wants to sue his “estate” which consists of a house that is perhaps on a real good day worth $40,000.00, has a back tax bill of $3,00.00, that my sister owns half of and is trying to sue me for my half PLUS attorney’s fees.The insurance company suing me wants a jury trial. GREAT!, I’m 55, about broke, and insurance companies are about as popular as hemmorids.
    I swear, Baghdad is looking good, screw this place inhabited by crazy ass holes….

  10. The christians were being typical annoying arseholes looking for attention. I live in Michigan too and seriously if the Christians were any where near to being respectable adults they’d get a grip on themselves. No they have to show up and be selfish, self-centered and utterly annoying.

    They always go out of their way here to annoy the crap out of everyone. From showing up at events that feature a segment of the population they want to convert or knocking on your door to play religion prostitute.

  11. Erinyes, if you have an investment in your late brother’s property and your sister has an investment in his property, then it all boils down to whether or not all three of you own the property in common. If you or your sister co-signed anything with your brother, then it’s probable — hey, take this with a grain of salt; two years of law school does not a legal authority make — you may be on the hook because this establishes you and your sister as co-owners of the property along with your late brother. Which makes you all equally liable.

    Not saying this is the case. Just saying if there is a chink that the insurance company can find to capitalize on, they will. That’s their business. They have lawyers on retainer in ensure that the “small people” get plowed under when any disagreement ensues.

    I wish you the best, Erinyes. Serfdom is not something any of us ever signed onto.

  12. Had the Muslims been prosthelytizing at a Christian festival, they’d be in lockup facing terrorism charges by now or on their way to some overseas rendition. So oh the poor Christians are being oppressed, I don’t think so?

    The fact that people feel the need to market what they call faith says alot doesn’t it?

  13. I watched the video and essentially agree with you. If they don’t piss on trees, buildings or people, they should probably be allowed to mark public territory. But I used the Christianist link to write the Dearborn authorities urging that they do what they can to keep the peace and encourage tolerance all around. Not that our Christianist friends are into tolerance .. they aren’t.

  14. I do find it interesting that I was unable to find a story on this in the Detroit News. Must not have been a big deal.

  15. erinyes, I’m sorry to hear of your family troubles. I remember when you mentioned your brother’s illness and passing. It sounds like you’re the member of your family who just automatically does the right thing, because it is the right thing, while perhaps others are more inclined to ask what’s in it for them.

    All I can say from a legal standpoint is, the tax lien might be enough to scare away the insurance vultures… not that that helps. Perhaps your sister should just have the house, and then she can deal with the vultures?

    And the prayin’ lady you encountered… sheesh. Probably a lawyer.

  16. maha, I know from personal experience that, surprisingly, a group of 5 protesters standing on a corner across the street from – a mega-corporation engaged in inventing and developing bigger and better and more efficent hardware designed to kill as many people as possible in one fell-swoop – every morning at 7 am for two weeks needs a permit to stand there.

    It was explained to me at an all-day seminar on the rights and wrongs of protesting that registering with the local police before a demonstration, no matter the size of the crowd, was as much meant to protect the protesters as it was to ‘keep the peace.’

  17. erinyes,
    I feel ya. Hey, I’ll go with ya! I’ve had it with this country too.
    But, how about, instead of Baghdad, we look to move to Canada? I know we’ll be illegal immigrants, but Hell, what better city to be an illegal in than Montreal, my favorite city, outside of NYC, in North America?
    Maybe Vancouver, but I’ve never been there.

    Seriously, sorry about all your troubles. I wish I could help. But, I can’t even seem to get out of my own way lately…

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  19. I too thought of the hell that would have been raised if it was Muslims outside of a Christian Church, revival, etc.

  20. People really don’t get this rights thing as it pertains to others besides themselves. I recall a video in which Noam Chomsky vigorously defended the free speech rights of a vile Holocaust denier and even called the man’s opnions what they were. But because he defended his right to free speech he encountered an angry group of people who insisted in equating Chosmky to a advocate of that persons beliefs.

    It doesn’t matter who the people are….Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. A large percentage of each just don’t get it. It must owe to a deficient childhood upbringing that they somehow expect rights to be bestowed selectively when, as they tend to say, “but everyone knows…”

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