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Moslem question concerning free speech in America with answers from lawyers

Jerald Finney
Copyright © 2015

MohammedCartoonLegal question asked on AVVO on May 12, 2015 from one wanting to know why drawing a cartoon of Mohammed was not the same legally as yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre with my reply and the reply of some other lawyers with whom I agree.

Asked on AVVO on May 12, 2014 – Dallas, TX

Practice area: Constitutional

See an article on the incident referred to in the above question at: Garland, Texas, Shooting Suspect Linked Himself To ISIS In Tweets (Note. I commend the police for bravely doing their job according to the law. Two of the Muslims, according to the article, “wore body armor. They carried assault rifles. And one had declared loyalty to ISIS.”)

The following was the question:

“Why isn’t the contest to draw Mohammad in Garland Tx recently the same as yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater and not protected a known hate group held a contest to draw a ‘cartoon’ of the Muslim prophet, Mohammad. In doing so, the group knew full well it would likely result in violence against those attending. In fact, only the Muslim protesting the drawing were killed as they approached the facility armed with weapons.”

The question with all answers can be seen at: Avvo/Moslem Question on Free Speech

My reply on May 12, 2014 (I did not address some of the issues raised in the question since I agreed with some other lawyer responses, some of which are below. Rather, I tried to offer some insights into the differences between certain Islamic beliefs and certain principles of freedom found in the United States Constitution.):

9The religion of Islam has entirely different principles about some matters than does the religion which was responsible for giving the United States freedom of religion, speech, assembly, press, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These freedoms are denied in many Muslim countries where Christians and others are persecuted and/or killed. Prior to the adoption of the Constitution and the First Amendment, all these freedoms were denied in most of the American colonies (as they had been in the Old World where Catholicism or some form of Protestantism combined with the state).

These freedoms are secured by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which says:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The history of that amendment makes clear that those who were persecuted (tortured, beheaded, drowned, burnt at the stake, buried alive, imprisoned, property confiscated, banished, tortured, etc.) for their refusal to bow down to the state religion were responsible for the adoption of the First Amendment. You can read that history at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/the-history-of-the-first-amendment/

An abbreviated version is at: https://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/an-abridged-history-of-the-first-amendment/

[For an understanding of “Christian” and Secular historical revisionism in America see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus by clicking here.]

Anytime religion and state unite, as proven by history, the result is the labeling of those who do not support and embrace the state/religion and “heretics” and their persecution and elimination. At least 50 million of such so-called “heretics” were murdered by the combination of church and state during the reign of Catholicism, and then by Protestant church state unions which adopted the church/state theology of the “mother” church (harlot). Those “heretics” believed in freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and the other freedoms in the First Amendment. Their beliefs were based upon a literal interpretation of the Bible, not on the “spiritual” interpretations of the Catholic church which basically held that the Bible was open to interpretation by certain “spiritual” people (such as Origin, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas). Those interpreters paganized and spiritualized, according to their preferences, the great truths of the Bible.

As to the speech issue you mention, the teachings of Islam are fundamentally different from those of those Christian “heretics” who stood against the union of church and state and for freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly and which resulted in the freedoms in the First Amendment. Many of the Moslems who live in America have brought with them their Muslim beliefs and wish those beliefs to be applied in America. In order for that to happen, American law would have to be fundamentally rewritten.

A cross in a jar of urine is protected speech in America. Other odious depictions of Christ in movies, paintings, signs, etc. are common in America. As a believer, I detest those things, but I also believe in everyone’s right to the freedoms in the First Amendment. I don’t believe in killing anyone for their religious beliefs (as long as those beliefs do not result in murder, stealing, or some other crimes against one’s fellow man). The law protects, and rightfully so, those who express and practice their religious beliefs – even those who criticize other religions, religious leaders, etc.

This answer is not intended as and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Professional legal advice requires…

A good article on Muslim immigration and its effects is: Concerns Of Muslim Immigration Surge Into Western World Come Into Focus (050715)

Reply of Cameron Huey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer – Sacramento, CA:

Answered May 14, 2014. Contrary to popular belief, yelling “fire” in a theater is not the most recent case law on clear and present danger. Schenck v. United States has been superceded by Brandenburg v. Ohio. Hate speech has also been approved as protected by the First Amendment (Virginia v. Black upheld a cross-burning). Hate speech is now akin to viewpoint discrimination. If the “hate group” was prohibited from having a drawing contest of Muhammed, then THEY would sue for violation of free speech rights.

The Constitution doesn’t protect against people being upset. The Constitution protects the speaker’s rights. Yelling “fire” causes panic to a reasonable person. A reasonable person would not have some impulse to hurt or kill other people because their religion/beliefs/opinions are threatened. The fact that they approached the facility armed with weapons WITH THE INTENT of committing a crime against someone who was expressing free speech shows they were in the wrong.

If you want this liberal/progressive defense of free speech that Pamela Gellar and company were engaging in, I suggest you watch some of the debates between supporters of Islam and with progressive TV host Bill Maher.

This answer is not intended as and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Professional legal advice requires…

Reply of Richard Gould-Saltman Family Law Attorney – Los Angeles, CA

Answered 28 minutes ago. Because it’s not illegal to “yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater”; it’s “illegal to FALSELY yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater”, which results in innocent people doing perfectly legal and reasonable things, and getting injured as a result.

Mounting an armed attack against someone who makes fun of your religion is, in the United States, neither legal nor reasonable, and isn’t innocent; it’s a crime.

This answer is not intended as and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Professional legal advice requires…

Reply of Isabel Humphrey Appeals Lawyer – Phoenix, AZ

Answered a day ago. I think the big difference is that yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater will lead reasonable people to panic and potentially be injured, whereas drawing Mohammed will lead only criminals to react in a way that will cause injury.

This answer is not intended as and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Professional legal advice requires…


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