On Good Friday in Dearborn, Mich., the notorious Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones was jailed and fined for the crime of refusing to pay a so-called “peace bond” to cover the costs of extra police protection for Jones’ planned demonstration outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Judge Mark Somers also ordered Jones to stay away from the massive Dearborn mosque for three years.
This is a restriction on the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression that Islamic supremacists are certainly going to try to use in the future to press for even more.
Jones was only in jail briefly, and the fine was a symbolic one dollar, but clearly Dearborn authorities see him as a threat to public order. Why? Was Jones threatening to burn down the mosque, using copies of the Koran as kindling? Did he threaten the Dearborn Muslims—or Muslims anywhere else? Did he strap a suicide vest to himself and detonate it in a crowd of infidels? Did he plant explosives in his underwear and try to blow up an airliner in mid-flight? Did he load a car with explosives and try to explode it on a crowded night in Times Square? Did he murder 13 Americans while shooting “Allahu Akbar” at Fort Hood? Did he murder an American serviceman outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock for Allah and Islam?
Of course Terry Jones did none of those things. In reality, he poses no potential or actual threat to anyone. His sole claim to fame, and to hatred, and to notoriety, is that he burned a single copy of a book of which there are millions, if not billions, of extant copies. This act, of course, so enrages some Muslims that it has led them to murder innocent people half a world away, and to burn down stores in Afghanistan that invariably contained a copy of the Koran—thereby destroying more copies of the Islamic holy book than Jones ever has.
The brute fact of this violence has led directly to Judge Somers’ action. He is concerned, and with good reason, that a Jones protest in Dearborn would lead to violence. But not from Jones. The city of Dearborn and Somers clearly shut down Jones’ protest because they were afraid it would lead to violence from Muslims. But if Jones and his fellow protesters were not being violent themselves, wouldn’t the responsibility for any disturbance be upon those who decided to react to whatever Jones was doing by causing the disturbance?
Commentator Pamela Geller points out Dearborn’s soft bigotry of low expectations: “The city of Dearborn’s position is that Muslims are so violent and irrational that they won’t be able to control themselves if Jones holds a protest? And he has to pay for damages? Why wouldn’t the marauding Muslim hordes pay the damages if they are doing the damage? And if they get violent, why aren’t they in jail?”
Indeed. the New York Times reported that “Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, said the United States Supreme Court has ruled that it is the police’s job to protect speakers at such events, and said it is unconstitutional to require protesters to post a bond for police protection.”
Yet it has been done now, and the precedent set that a man has been arrested, jailed, and fined for the Orwellian crime of planning to hold a politically incorrect protest. Whatever one may think of Terry Jones and his book-burning (and I am not a fan of book-burning myself), every free citizen should be supporting his right to protest in Michigan. Muslims should not be immune from criticism and protest in America any more than anyone else is. To restrict Jones’ right to protest in front of a mosque is to send the signal that violent intimidation works, and that those who killed people in Afghanistan because of Jones’ Koran-burning have achieved their ultimate goal: to make Islam immune from criticism because every potential critic will be afraid to speak out.
That is the road to tyranny. And now we have embarked on it.