Landmark Case: Government argues that Islam is political

July 26, 2012

Photo-3

Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi of American Freedom Law Center and Pamela Geller

What began as a clear first amendment issue has exploded into a landmark case regarding the the status of Islam as a political entity. Today the Detroit Transit Authority (SMART), a government entity, argued before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that our “Leaving Islam” ad was political because Islam is political.  At least two of the three judges seemed to go along.
If the Court rules against us, it will be ruling that Islam is political and that Sharia is a political program — something that other government agencies have strenuously denied. If that happens, will Islam and Sharia deserve the protection of a religion?
Leaving islam ad
The case was argued today before 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Raymond Kethledge, John Marshall Rogers and Algenon L. Marbley. Chris Hildebrand, the lawyer for Detroit SMART, began by referring to and based his whole argument on our recent victory over the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority in another First Amendment case about a completely different ad (a pro-Israel ad). Hildebrand argued that the Judge in that case, Paul Engelmayer, had said that that ad was political, and thus that the MTA had to accept it in accord with their guidelines. Hildebrand asserted that our “Leaving Islam?” bus ad, which Detroit SMART rejected, was also political, and thus was rightly rejected by SMART, which (in contrast to the MTA) does not take political ads. His client, said Hildebrand, does not reject ads because they’re provocative (as he claimed that ours was), or controversial, but because they’re political, and SMART does not and will not take political positions.
Judge Rogers then told him that he had gotten SMART into a “blurry area” to be making a distinction between the political and religious. Hildebrand countered that while the ad may be anti-Islam, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sharia (actually it was designed wholly and solely to offer help to people whose lives were threatened), it was also political. Judge Marbley then pointed out that an imam, who would issue a fatwa (referring to the part of our ad that asked, “Is your family threatening you? Is there a fatwa on your head?”) was not an elected official.
Hildebrand then dropped the bomb that has extraordinary implications for the debate about anti-Sharia laws and the status of Islam in the United States: he said that yes, imams have a religious function, but they also “control Sharia law,” and Sharia is political. Marbley said that that might be so in Iran, but not in Detroit, where they had a purely religious function. Hildebrand then dug in even deeper, saying that imams in Dearborn deal with Sharia on both a religious and political basis. When Marbley then asked him how our ad was different from one that SMART accepted from an atheist group, calling on people to become atheists, Hildebrand said that it differed because Islam is not only religious, but also a “political series of laws.” Marbley then pointed out that the same thing could be said about the Catholic Church, since the Vatican was a political entity, and that could be used to rule out advertising from Catholic groups. Hildebrand then argued that our ad was both religious and political, and that the reference to a fatwa made it primarily political and not religious — which would only be true if Sharia itself is primarily political and not religious.
Judge Kethledge seemed to go along with this argument, telling our own lawyer, Robert Muise (who ably argued for our side), that Sharia is “arguably” political as well as religious. Judge Rogers then outrageously compared our ad to an ad repeating a vile and disgusting blood libel against the Jews as part of Jewish law (which it most certainly is not, but the death penalty for apostasy most certainly is part of the sharia) — showing the truth of his and Marbley’s admission that they knew next to nothing about Islam (or Jewish law). Clearly they were unaware of Islam’s death penalty for apostasy. If they did, they would never have said that our public service ad constituted “scorn and ridicule.”
Kethledge clearly had his mind made up already, getting testy with Muise and helping Hildebrand with his case, inviting him when he returned to the stand to explain why our ad — designed to save lives — constituted “scorn and ridicule” of Muslims and thus was also disallowed on those grounds according to SMART’s guidelines. This entangled SMART in a self-contradiction: Hildebrand said that they didn’t disallow our ad because it was “controversial” but also that our ad constituted “scorn and ridicule” — but none of the judges seemed to notice and certainly no one challenged Hildebrand on this. Hildebrand did not, and could not, explain why our ad constituted scorn and ridicule, and instead simply kept asserting that it did. He did not argue his case persuasively, but with Kethledge and also Rogers so clearly on his side, he had a clear advantage.
If SMART wins, however, the implications for the status of Islam and Sharia as political will be enormous. Incalculable. SMART may end up winning the battle for Sharia in the U.S., but losing the war.

Photo-4
Brain trust: Robert Muise, David Yerushalmi and Robert Spencer confer after the hearing

ok… thought about this some more. Peanuts can be a substitute Protein which would offend the meat industry. Thus Peanuts are political and can be banned by “SMART”. Peanuts are political, therefor we can ban Jimmy Carter who grows Peanuts. Islam is political, but then why was Islam posting on SMART? But being against Islam is Political… double standard. Peanuts could be a religion too? Give me five minutes and I could find away to yarn that one. The court needs to admit it’s bias and push this to a higher court if they are thinking about this.


UPDATED #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend? to see if you can legally get away with this hashtag on twitter or if I can get it trending again

August 11, 2011


After this post was made I received a warning and a penalty from facebook for friending “PEOPLE who I don’t KNOW”. Like most activists I network with like minded people and not PEOPLE I KNOW. Facebook doesn’t like it’s feathers ruffled. They are trying to remind me that they can act in a PUNITIVE manner. Typical Seattle politics. If you are wondering why I am using the deplorable hashtag, it is to remind the social networks of the hypocritical culture that they enable. I know for a fact that the people and law in Seattle will look the other way at Anti-Semitism, but will be upset by misogyny. My hope is that the worst lemmings of feminist culture will be shocked and click the link and be faced with their own double standard.

…People on twitter are linking to some writing called
Do These Vile Facebook Comments Deserve Free Speech Protection? A better question is why this is such a bloggable issue when it deals with Atheists, when no one cared at facebook when they did the same to Jews. If the context is clear in a threat then it really isn’t a first amendment issue, It is a question of should the state arrest people for making threats… well of course they should! Notice that facebook after being notified about these accounts over a year ago did nothing. In fact these comments were made during the period where facebook deleted the profile of David Appletree of the JIDF. Notice they didn’t do the same thing for Yerkzilla The DinoJew. But supposedly the JIDF profile was deleted because facebook claimed Appletree wasn’t a real name. So what is Bronagh Cleeverhook Gallagher up to these days? She is still on facebook like most of the names mentioned below…


Another Renegade Woman in the Schools: Before Atlanta There Was Newark, NJ

July 7, 2011
Before coming to Atlanta to be the superintendent of schools Beverly Hall was the superintendent of schools in Newark, New Jersey, where surprise, surprise, allegations of intimidation and coercion were also made against her.

Mr. Embrey, the former Principal of West Side High School now under house arrest, was brave enough to speak out for the children.

here is what one parent had to say at that meeting in New Jersey: Allegedly, Hall has since attempted to deny parents their 1st Amendment rights by sending investigators to the homes of parents who speak out at Advisory Board meetings.

A report from 1997 also contains allegations of mismanagement and misuse of funds, cronyism and the picture of a woman who ruled with an iron fist and would tolerate no insubordination in the ranks while painting only a rosy picture of the system she was in charge of. Something she continued when she relocated to Atlanta in 1999. So if you want to read yet another damming report on this All Star of Academia go ahead and click on the link. via jammie wearing fool

what a terror! and kind of familiar. people who send their children to get an education do not deserve to have their rights taken away!  …and yes this story is very familiar… and soon I will be able to say why… (hint: this blog is censored)

From a secret undisclosed location, probably one with no extradition agreement with the US, the disgraced former superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools system, Dr. Beverly Hall, has posted a message letting us know that everything that happened wasn’t her fault and just the rogue acts of a few individuals. Umm, yeah like a 178 of ’em.

I am also disturbed by the repeated references to statements by teachers and other professionals declaring that they cheated or chose not to reveal cheating because of a perceived atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation. A number of years ago, we installed a hotline by which persons with knowledge of misconduct could report it and could do so anonymously if they wished. Anonymous emails and letters provided a further channel of communication. Even so, it now appears that our efforts and procedures were not enough.


China Says Internet Freedom Assured as Baidu Faces New York Suit

May 20, 2011

May 19 (Bloomberg) — China, responding to a lawsuit in the U.S. that accused the Chinese government and local search engine Baidu Inc. of censoring Internet information, said Web users are free to express themselves.

China guarantees “freedom of speech” on the Internet, Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said today in response to questions about the case. Eight Chinese residents in New York filed a lawsuit in the city yesterday against Baidu, saying the Chinese company helps the government censor political expression in violation of the U.S. constitution.
Foreign courts have no jurisdiction in China, Jiang said today at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
China requires websites to self censor pornography, gambling and content critical of the ruling Communist Party, a rule that led Google Inc. to pull its search engine out of the country last year. The world’s largest Internet market by users blocks Google’s YouTube video-sharing site as well as social networking services run by Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.
The plaintiffs seek $16 million in damages from the company and the Chinese government after their “writings, publications and coverage of pro-democracy events” were censored and banned from Baidu’s search engine, according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. They also charge Baidu and China violated New York State civil rights laws.
Kaiser Kuo, a spokesman for Baidu, declined to comment. The Beijing-based company, which operates China’s most popular search engine, trades on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where its American depositary receipts rose 3 cents to $131.84 yesterday.
“China will be required to answer the complaint or there will be a default judgment against them,” Stephen Preziosi, the New York-based lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said in a telephone interview.
Baidu has enjoyed a “near monopoly” in Internet searches in China since Google Inc. cut back on operations there, according to a presentation this month by brokerage CLSA Ltd.
Nasdaq Trading
The complaint refers to the plaintiffs as “promoters of democracy in China through their writings, publications, reporting.”
“They put their stuff on the Internet,” Preziosi said. “Now you have a foreign state using a private corporation as its arm, agent and enforcer in suppressing and censoring political speech.”
Two of the plaintiffs list addresses in Flushing, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, that has a large concentration of Chinese-speaking Americans.
The case is Zhang v. Baidu.com Inc., 11-3388, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

–With assistance from Michael Forsythe in Beijing, and Mark Lee in Hong Kong. Editor: Andrew Dunn, Fred Strasser, Young-Sam Cho.
To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


Free Palestine!

November 23, 2010

Brett Stephens
Should the United States offer—and Israel accept—diplomatic guarantees, plus $2 billion worth of fighter jets, for the sake of a 90-day settlement freeze? Er, no. Israel can afford the planes, or at least it can afford them better than the perception that it’s getting a free ride from U.S. taxpayers. The U.S. should not put a price on things it ought not to do anyway, like recognizing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. And bribery is generally a bad idea, particularly between friends. Then again, bad ideas are what you get when you’re operating from bad premises. Premises such as: There is a deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, or that the settlements are the core of the problem.
So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (proud-a.blogspot.com), titled “Why I Left Islam.”
The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says “compete with each other in terms of stupidity.” But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is “an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual’s freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint.”
And that’s just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as “Is Islam a religion of tolerance?” Answer: “The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories.” What about equality? “Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels.” Women’s rights? “I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way.” The prophet? “A sex maniac” who “was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women.” And so on.
This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.
The systematic violation of Palestinian rights by Palestinian officials is an old story, as is the increasingly Islamist tilt of what was once supposed to be a relatively secular, progressive society. Whatever might be said in favor of freedom for Palestine, there has been to date precious little freedom in Palestine, whether in the Hamas-controlled statelet of Gaza or in the parts of the West Bank under Fatah’s dominion.
That’s a problem. It’s also a problem that when the Associated Press covered Mr. Husayin’s ordeal, reporter Diaa Hadid offered that “the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is among the more religiously liberal Arab governments in the region,” and that “Husayin’s high public profile and prickly style . . . left authorities no choice but to take action.”
How nice to see AP reporters sticking up for free expression. Indeed, the consistent willingness of Western news organizations to downplay stories about Palestinian illiberalism and thuggery goes far to explain why so much of the world misdiagnoses the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are a convenient alibi: They foster the illusion that the conflict can be resolved by Israeli territorial concessions alone. But if that were true, Gaza would have turned peaceful the moment settlements were withdrawn five years ago. The opposite happened.
Why did Gaza become more violent, internally as well as toward Israel and Egypt, the moment it was rid of Israelis? That’s the central question, and one too few observers seem willing to address for fear of where the answer might lead. Yet it ought to be self-evident. The culture of Palestinian illiberalism gave rise to the discontents that brought about civil war and then Hamas’s swift rise to power. Hamas is theologically committed to Israel’s destruction. That commitment is politically popular: It shapes, and limits, what even the most progressive Palestinian leaders might be willing to concede to Israel in any deal. The result is what we now have: Negotiations that are going nowhere, at an increasingly heavy price for all parties, including the United States.
Like George W. Bush before him, President Obama has observed that the U.S. can’t want peace more than Israelis or Palestinians themselves do. But America can, uniquely, stand for freedom like no other country. Mr. Husayin—assuming he’s the author of those blog posts—surely knew how much he risked by speaking his mind, and it’s tempting to conclude he had it coming.
But if Palestinians cannot abide a single free-thinker in their midst, they cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the word. And if the U.S. can’t speak up on his behalf, then neither, in the long run, can we.
Write to bstephens@wsj.com

Kagan’s “Low Value” Speech Could Be Expensive | THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

June 29, 2010

While Kagan appears to be focusing more on conduct based regulation when it comes to hate speech, one has to be concerned when we start talking about  a categorical balancing of the costs and “value” inherent in certain speech.  This takes us into a legal form of “social engineering” that has no place on the court.

If speech leads to imminent lawless action or fits a few other very narrow categories  we already can regulate it and we do. Even these types of laws, however, have been subject to subjective moral flexibility. The use of child pornography laws to prosecute sexting is an example.  What about hate speech? Who sets the bar?   Are we going to criminalize Holocaust Denial?  That’s low value speech to me.  Why not?  If she gets hers, I want mine.  It’s ad hoc right?   What about inflammatory political speech?   We tried that once. It was called Sedition. Didn’t work out well.
I am not contending that Kagan is going to go off the “free speech deep end” but to even consider any type of “value balancing” approach to hate speech even with the best intentions could take us down a free speech rabbit hole that will be hard to climb out of, setting the 1st Amendment back decades.
Is there low value speech?  I agree with Kagan that there is.  That does not mean the court should start adding ad hoc categories designed to tell me what it is. I can decide for myself and make my personal decision if I want to view it, engage in it or debate it.  There is already enough subjectivity to go around without opening up a Pandora’s Box of  moral interpretation.

Read Brian’s entire post at briancuban.com
The key quotes from Kagan are there.

Any idea in pure form is dangerous. Obviously there are limits to how far speech can go before it threatens the individual. The key to this issue is more complex then just weighing the values, variables and attributes of cause and effect. Of course there is no math to this. What scares me is not that Kagan sees limitations to what can be said… what scares me is that she (and this is an assumption based on her other loyalties) will assume that violent speech can be policed in a centralized manner by the Federal government or worse… the U.N.

Free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired: Ann Coulter after event cancellation

April 7, 2010

By Zev Singer and Kristy Nease
(updated at 11:19 p.m. ET)
OTTAWA — After protesters at the University of Ottawa prevented Ann Coulter from giving a speech on Tuesday night, the American conservative writer said it proved the point she came to make — free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired.
Then she said what she really thought of the student protesters who surrounded Marion Hall, making it unsafe, in the view of her bodyguard, for the pundit to attempt entry.
“The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn’t it?” she said in an interview after the cancelled event. “I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It’s always the bush league schools.”
Ms. Coulter said she has been speaking regularly at university campuses for a decade. While she has certainly been heckled, she said this is the first time an engagement has been cancelled because of protesters.
“This has never, ever, ever happened before — even at the stupidest American university,” she said.
Ms. Coulter remarked on the reception she has had since entering the country.
“Since I’ve arrived in Canada, I’ve been denounced on the floor of Parliament — which, by the way, is on my bucket list — my posters have been banned, I’ve been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council, so welcome to Canada!”

I’m disgusted that there are people in America who think that these Northerners should be our role models.