… contains a “but only if you’re not breaching the peace” clause?
I didn’t either. So let’s think about this. Have you ever seen a protest up close and personal?
- I’ve seen protests at nuclear plants and military bases, electric companies and boards of education.
- I’ve seen protests outside of abortion clinics where people were screamed at and names were called, people were blocked and horrific photos were displayed for all the world to see.
- I’ve seen people protest at the funerals of American soldiers where grieving widows, children, siblings and parents were taunted and placards declaring “God Hates Fags!” were displayed in proclamation that God allows the deaths of soldiers to somehow make a point about gays being sinners.
- I’ve seen protests outside of businesses with strikes going on where workers are screaming at customers and non-striking employees.
- I’ve seen the KKK march down the street screaming about how they hate blacks while angry crowds shout and protest their “freedom of speech” that allows them to be so openly offensive.
- I’ve seen angry customers picketing businesses complete with shouting and exhortations not to patronize the offending store/vendor/whatever.
- I’ve seen gays gathered to demand their right to equal protection, right to marry, right to raise children, etc. I’ve seen the crowds of protesters demanding no consideration for what they deem “lifestyle choices.”
- I’ve seen teachers try to block students from attending school, and substitute teachers harassed and blocked as they try to report to work.
- I’ve seen people gathered outside the homes of suspected criminals — especially murderers and child molesters — and I’ve seen their innocent families taunted and tormented with no recourse.
I could go on and on but I think my point has been made. People get passionate and heated about their beliefs. Their beliefs are not always noble or just; they’re not always right and sometimes not even understandable. They’re not always quiet about it and they’re not often friendly, nice or polite about it. ”Peaceable” protest is not often exercised, no matter what the topic du jour may be.
And yet, not once have I ever seen the cops show up and do more than insure that the protesters (and counter-protesters) don’t physically assault someone, interfere with the conduction of business, trespass onto private property or block traffic.
I don’t care how big a whackjob you are, how stupid your protest, or how wrong you may be, as long as you are not crossing the line into violence or property destruction, you’ve got a guaranteed right to do it and that’s how it should be.
So why, then, is a Pastor being denied the right to protest outside of an Islamic Center in Dearborn on the grounds that it *may* (not has, not did, not even “is likely to” but simply *might*) breach the peace and/or incite violence?
This is not right. You cannot penalize someone for something that *might* happen. That’s like saying “you can’t drive a car because you might run someone over” or “you can’t own a gun because it could kill someone.” You cannot punish someone for something — anything — that *could* happen, only for what *does* happen.