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George Mason University Speech Codes:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has some apt criticisms. It's not completely clear what happened in the particular incident that triggered FIRE's interest, but I agree that the policies that FIRE has uncovered -- policies that (1) bar distribution of "flyers/leaflets" that are "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University," and that (2) require "prior authorization" for posting materials, distributing or selling newspapers, seemingly without any requirement that the authorization be given promptly and viewpoint-neutrally -- are unconstitutional and inconsistent with academic freedom principles. (More details here.)

To its credit, GMU seems to be looking at the problem closely. To its discredit, there's a problem here that does need fixing.

DNL (mail):

To its credit, GMU seems to be looking at the problem closely. To its discredit, there's a problem here that does need fixing.

My experience with FIRE has shown that they generally give the school a chance to fix the problem, and do so well before the press release hits. In this case, the school replied, addressing part of the problem -- a symptom, if you will, but not the disease. One hopes that GMU will indeed opt for a cure rather than a mere treatment.
11.17.2005 2:49pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Eugene,

Why are you equivocating on the issue of the arrest? Can't you develop a backbone and just pick a side? There are no questions that I know of about what happened. There was no reason for arrest other than the violation of a bad local regulation--the one that FIRE refers to as "unconstitutional". You may disagree with the guy's politics, but his politics should not be an issue in this case. Please, please, please make it clear that there is no question as to what happened.

Considering that this is one of the few cases that FIRE followed up on where the victim was left-of-center and the regulations were not left-oriented speech codes, I am very suspicious of anyone's motives in even attempting to defend GMU's actions. This could have been worse if there were not witnesses with cell phones who pulled them out when the kid got arrested.
11.17.2005 3:41pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute:

Could this be a case where spectators and Monday-morning quarterbacks are losing sight of the real issue? This kid shows up on campus. The "kid" is named Tariq Khan and is of Pakistani descent. He is an anti-war "activist" and deliberately set himself next to military recruiters in protest. All of this during a time of war in Iraq and heightened awareness of "Arab-looking" individuals (like it or not, profiling being a good or evil thing - the 9/11 terrorists, the 1993 WTC bombers, suicide bombers, et al. are NOT little old grandmothers of Swedish descent).

When the inevitable confrontation occurred between Khan, ROTC members, and other students, campus police showed up. They asked for his ID, which he claimed not to have; something which would create IMMEDIATE suspicion with ANY security official - campus police, sheriff's deputy, police officer, security guard, etc. His actions are what precipitated the disruption of the recruiter's AUTHORIZED and, up to that point, PEACEFUL presentation...

So, let's see.

Tariq Khan, an anti-war activist, arrives and commits actions, which were NOT previously cleared with GMU officials. These acts lead to the disruption of an authorized, peaceful presentation by military recruiters in a time of "war" with enemies who are primarily "Arab" in appearance. When asked to produce ID, something required by law in many areas that one must be able to do when requested by law enforcement officials, he has none; thus, not being able to demonstrate that he was a student of the university or even a resident of the area.

Forget abstract, theoretical arguments related to Supreme Court decisions and the First Amendment as to "free speech" and "protest." Put yourself in the shoes of campus police. Where would YOUR focus be at the moment of 'confrontation?'

What I see here is a situation where GMU and its policies are being made the focus of attention rather than the questionable acts of a single individual who wished to protest the war. Does he have the right to protest? Absolutely. Does he have the responsibility to protest 'peaceably?' Absolutely. Do his actions indicate that he desired a confrontation, or "non-peaceful," protest? You make the call.

Just remember, as you make the call:

1.) most campuses do have limitations on where or what can be posted and where 'public expression' can be made by way of 'protests,' with these limitations are usually found to be reasonable, practical, and constitutional (i.e., thou shalt not disrupt the classroom, impede the normal conduct of business, etc.);
2.) Khan's actions put him in direct, physical "contact" with those who were attending their own, authorized, peaceful assembly;
3.) Khan could not comply with a typically recognized, legal obligation to produce identification; and
4.) the likely, reasonable viewpoint of campus police given the circumstances.

Now, are there potential, constitutional problems with GMU's policies? Possibly. But, what does this have to do with Tariq Khan's actions? Why should the kids involved in the confrontation with Khan be faced with potential sanctions from the University while Khan is made a "hero" and immune from the same sanctions? Where does the theory of free speech allow for complete immunization against consequences for that speech or the actions taken in making that speech?

Given the parameters of Khan's presentation, if you find his actions acceptable, then why wouldn't the actions of those students protesting his protest be 'acceptable' in the same light? Because you agree with Khan's position and not theirs? Because he was arrested - for creating the disruption of an authorized, previously peaceful assembly and could not provide proof of identity or his status as a student; while the others were not arrested for attempting to stop the disruption of their peaceful assembly and could show identification? Because you are more comfortable with castigating a monolithic "system" for policies which may or may not be unconstitutional than recognizing the "un"-politically correct actions of individuals addressing questionable behavior?

Question my "motives" if you will. But, my question is still the same. Is this a case of losing focus on the forest because we are becoming lost among the trees? Or, more precisely, are we being led on a path through the entangling underbrush so that we not only lose focus on the forest, but even stop looking at the trees?
11.17.2005 4:54pm
Seamus (mail):

Khan could not comply with a typically recognized, legal obligation to produce identification.



I'm a resident of Virginia. I'd like to know where in Virginia's statute or common law there is a legal obligation to produce identification when going about one's business in a public place? (And please note that the GMU campus is open to the public, not restricted to students, faculty, and employees.)


These acts lead to the disruption of an authorized, peaceful presentation by military recruiters in a time of "war" with enemies who are primarily "Arab" in appearance.



Disruption my ass. Here's what FIRE says about what happened: "On September 29, GMU student and Air Force veteran Tariq Khan protested military recruiters on campus by silently standing near their table with a 'Recruiters Lie' sign taped to his chest and passing out handbills. According to witnesses, a student assaulted Khan and took his sign within less than 30 minutes." Looks like the only person whose authorized, peaceful presentation was disrupted was Khan.
11.17.2005 5:05pm
Seamus (mail):
Lest there be any confusion, when I say "authorized" in my last post, I mean authorized by the First Amendment, not by any pre-clearance procedure at GMU.
11.17.2005 5:40pm
Anthony Leonson (mail):
According to witnesses, a student assaulted Khan and took his sign within less than 30 minutes


Assaulted? Harsh words.

Then Khan says a student came by, took a pamphlet, ripped it up, threw it in his face, and left. The student returned with another person, who said he was in the Marines and was just back from Iraq.

Khan says he asked him, "How many people did you kill?"

According to Khan, the Marine said: "Not enough. I want to go back and kill more."

They started to hassle Khan, calling him "a pussy and a coward," he recalls. "The guy who said he was in the Marines rips the sign off my chest. I said, 'Thanks for defending my freedom of speech.' So I took out another piece of paper and started to make a new sign."

Soon a campus police officer, Theodore Reynolds, showed up, Khan says.

"He told me the same thing: that I'm not allowed to be there unless I have a permit. I told him I don't need a permit to stand here."

When Khan wouldn't leave, Officer Reynolds threw him down and handcuffed him. Khan says that some of the students nearby were egging the police officer on, yelling, "Kick his ass! Kick his ass!"


I don't think that tearing up someone's 8.5x11 sheet of paper qualifies as 'assault', although I suppose it could fall under the 'threatening gestures' portion of it.
11.17.2005 5:51pm
Anthony Leonson (mail):
As a note, this is also one side of the story. Everything is from Khan's point of view. With the large number of witnesses around, I would guess that there must be a number of eye-witness accounts of what happened that are not being published.
11.17.2005 5:52pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Seamus: You might want to refresh your knowledge of "Terry stops" and its expansion in Hiibel. You will be looking for Terry v. Ohio (1968) and Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada (2004) where SCOTUS ruled that the Costitution does not prohibit police from demanding identification if there is a reasonable suspicion of "criminal activity." I'd say these officers had 'reasonable' cause to be suspicious; i.e., it was Khan's actions which precipitated the confrontation and disrupted an authorized, peaceful gathering.

While Virginia may have no law specifically requiring the carrying or producing of identification, it is certainly reasonable for campus police to demand identification of a 27-year old, "Arab-looking" male creating a confrontation at an authorized military recruitment presentation during a time when concerns over potential terrorism are reasonable and 'potential incidents' regularly occur. (Remember, some of the 9/11 hijackers had Virginia "identification.") In short, Khan was "not going about his business." He deliberately precipitated and provoked a confrontation by exhibiting behavior and physically juxtaposing himself to a peaceable and authorized assembly of those he disagreed with; in contradiction to existing rules of the institution.

As far as what FIRE has to say... Who cares? Were they present? NO. They openly admit that:


FIRE's understanding of the facts comes from numerous published accounts of the incident as well as GMU's own statements about the incident. Please inform us if you believe we are in error.


So, even they admit that they might not have all the facts or their proper context. If you read some of the written accounts, you end up with a rather broad spectrum; with a plethora of "left-wing" rhetoric that would make you believe that this guy was beaten nigh unto death, chained in a dungeon without so much as bread or water, and forced to watch Bush speeches related to the War in Iraq and the War on Terror 24/7. This is why they express 'concern' over the Khan incident, but wish to focus on the "constitutionality" of GMU's policies.

So, what do we see? Not a look at Khan's actions, but a non-sequiter attack on policies that had nothing to do with his rationale for protest. He was protesting the War and military recruitment, NOT the university's policies. Now, when his actions brought about the possibility of criminal liability, he and his supporters try to change the topic. Once again, "Let's tramp through the underbrush."

This 27-year old did everything he could to create a confrontation. He disrupted an event; i.e., confrontation was inevitable based on his physically locating himself near the table. (Had he been farther away, say outside the building, would the confrontation have been as 'inevitable?') Did he get campus or student body approval to distribute handbills or "put up" posters? (Don't like the rules? Petition for change, but don't break the rules or the law FIRST.) Did he avail himself of other options to express himself or did he have specific reasons for wishing to "get in their face;" forgetting or ignoring that one individual's rights end at the tip of another individual's nose.

Oops, many trees. The forest is there. Let's focus instead on instituional policies and not on the questionable actions of an individual who had myriad options available to "peacefully" and "non-confrontationally" protest in compliance with existing campus policies. Let's blame the evil, militaristic, Neanderthals that were the other students and campus police for 'victimizing' someone who intentionally 'got in their face' and was disrupting THEIR right to free expression. Let's find a "shield" of presumed "constitutionality" to hide this guy behind so that we can chant about the nasty, ole' evil military, repression by "the man," and the moral inferiority of "the establishment."

Hey, that ain't fair. I didn't partake of any of "that stuff" in the '70s and I'm having flashbacks. If I gotta pay the price, I shoulda done the deed. I guess that's why playing the Devil's Advocate is so much fun.
11.17.2005 6:16pm
Tim:
Guest Who Enjoys This Site:

You state:

"Don't like the rules? Petition for change, but don't break the rules or the law FIRST."

I was wondering your views on the civil rights movement?
11.17.2005 7:24pm
gr (www):
"This 27-year old did everything he could to create a confrontation."

He could have ripped up signs and yelled at people. But someone else did that.
11.17.2005 9:05pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Tim: You're off in the underbrush again. This ain't a "civil rights movement" issue. This is about the potentially inappropriate conduct of one individual.

The most dispassionate account of this incident I could find is here:

http://www.alextimes.com/issues/9/policeCourts_04.html

As Anthony Leonson said, most of the accounts you hear are decidedly one-sided. As this article says, some of the eyewitness accounts suggest the police used force. Another article stated that the information they could find on the incident was based on one news account. And, of course, you have Khan's increasingly detailed accounts. (As you go chronologically through his accounts of the arrest, they become increasingly detailed, graphic, and rife with accusations of sadism, police brutality, and 'torture.')

In the end, Khan himself is still not actively protesting GMU's policies. His focus is almost solely on military recruitment on campuses and protestation of the war. It's the ACLU, his supporters, and other activists who are doing most of the yelling.

Charges of misdemeanor trespass and disorderly conduct sound like those charges used to remind protestors that they cannot disrupt or impede the normal business or activities of an organization. Given that GMU has dropped the charges and prefers to handle the incident 'internally,' I'd suggest that they are sending the same message; i.e., you have a right to protest, but you don't have the right to disrupt other people's activities, flagrantly violate university rules, or ignore policies regarding "Conduct Within the University Community."

This last is particularly applicable in that, according to GMU's 2005-2006 University Catalog (the one which would be applicable given the timing of the incident) states:


"The Mason community respects and protects the individual dignity, integrity, and reputation of all its members. All students, faculty, and staff must comply with the conventions and regulations of university life that are necessary to maintain order, protect individuals and property, and fulfill the purposes and responsibilities of a university. This includes ensuring our commitment to high standards of civility and decency toward all.

Students enrolling in the university assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the university's function as an educational institution. The Code of Virginia (Section 23-9.2:3) confers upon the university the responsibility for maintaining order within the university, and the right to exclude those who are disruptive."



According to GMU's "Judicial Code:"


"IV. AUTHORITY FOR JUDICIAL PROCESS

The authority for establishing rules and regulations affecting student conduct at George Mason University is provided for under Section 23-9.2:3 of the Code of Virginia which states that state institutions of higher education have the authority ". . . to establish rules and regulations for the acceptance of students, to establish rules and regulations for the conduct of students while attending such institutions, and to establish rules and regulations for the dismissal of students who fail to abide by such rules and regulations."

V. PROCEDURAL STANDARDS

The model for disciplinary procedures is that of an administrative proceeding, rather than criminal or civil trial. The following standards of fairness and student rights are guaranteed to a student in any university disciplinary proceeding.

1. The right to prompt, written notice of charges and reasonable access to any written testimony that may be used at a hearing.

2. The right to examine witnesses against the student and to produce evidence on his/her behalf.

3. The right not to be compelled to be a witness against oneself or to have his/her silence taken as an indication of guilt.

4. The right to a decision based on clear and convincing evidence.

5. The right not to be punished and censured unless the decision maker, on the basis of the evidence, is persuaded that the student is guilty.

6. The right to be accompanied in all formal proceedings by an advisor of his/her own choosing and at his/her own expense.

7. The right to a public hearing unless the hearing body determines that a public hearing would unduly and adversely affect the proceedings or interests of others. A public hearing is defined as one where spectators approved by the involved parties or the university may be present.

8. The right to appeal decisions to a higher authority or hearing body within the administrative channels provided by the George Mason University Judicial System.

9. The right to have his/her case processed without prejudicial delay.

VI. SCOPE OF AUTHORITY

The Judicial System for Student Conduct has authority in all non-academic disciplinary matters. Academic discipline is adjudicated according to procedures established in the George Mason University Honor Code.

Action taken in criminal and/or civil courts do not affect the authority of the Judicial System for Student Conduct.

Special judicial boards may be established to adjudicate charges brought against individuals or groups belonging to identified populations. Procedures for these special boards must be filed with and approved by the University Judicial Administrator. All rights guaranteed to students in Section V of this document must be observed by the special hearing boards.

Proscribed actions performed off-campus by students make the student subject to university discipline when such actions materially affect the learning environment or operation of the University."



What you have, Tim, et al., is a student who deliberately and provocatively disrupted an authorized, peaceful activity in violation of university rules and policies; not in protest of those specific rules or policies which are now being decried as 'unconstitutional,' but in protest of the policy allowing for military recruitment on campus and in protest of the war in general. He did so, not to make a statement about "civil rights" or to draw attention to the 'unconstitutional' nature of specific, university policies, but in such a manner as to deliberately provoke confrontation and disrupt a normal, authorized, and peaceful activity on campus; a specific activity which he personally disagrees with.

His actions belie the intent supporters now attempt to impart. His actual intent was to disrupt military recruitment activities, not just at George Mason, but as part of the larger movement to remove such activities from all campuses. This intent informed, or imparted, a specific meaning to his actions and his 'statements.' This meaning was, again, deliberately provocative and confrontational in addressing, not the purportedly 'unconstitutional' policies related to "free speech" or "civil rights," but his perception of the 'military establishment' and the 'war.' This intent and meaning defined his purpose; i.e., to draw attention to the protests regarding military recruitment and the war in general by disrupting the orderly conduct of an authorized, normal, legitimate, and peaceful assembly/presentation.

This deliberate disruption is not only potentially illegal, it is in direct violation of the University's Code of Conduct and falls within their jurisdiction insofar as it's purpose was to disrupt the orderly conduct of an university authorized event, provoke confrontation (verbal and physical), and draw adverse attention to the institution in such a way as to "materially affect the learning environment or operation of the University." All of this when Khan did have legal, non-confrontational, and University appropriate/authorized means to express himself about issues related to military recruitment, the war, and even the policies now being questioned as unconstitutional had that been his desire.

So, when we get done pulling ourselves out of the weeds, we come face-to-face with the trees and realize the forest is still there. Tariq Khan may want to be the next Rosa Parks or Jane Fonda. He and his supporters may want to make this a modern-day Mississippi Burning. But, in the end, such fantasies of being a "civil rights" martyr led to his choosing an inappropriate means to achieve what could and has been done, legally, passively, and more reputably.

Now, Khan and his supporters are trying to obviate, forestall, or avoid the consequences of inappropriate behavior; thus, blurring, undermining, or losing sight of his original goals. While infringing on the rights of others to civilly, orderly, and responsibly participate in their own self-expression; Khan has 'changed the story' from one of protest against military recruitment and the war, to one of university policies that do not restrict free speech, but do require a certain civility, orderliness, and responsibility in the delivery of that speech so as not to impinge upon the safety or rights of others.

Tariq Khan's actions were not "civil disobedience." In fact, his claim was and is that he acted legally. His actions were deliberately provocative. This is NOT the nonviolent protests sanctioned by civil rights movement leaders. Enticing others into "striking the first blow" (and we have little but his word and the assessment of some eyewitnesses out of how many?) that undue violence actually happened), interfering with others' peaceable self-expression, and/or being deliberately provocative is not an act of nonviolence, it is an incitement to violence. This is contrary to the true "civil rights" intent as stated by:

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit."

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence."

Joan Baez: "That's all nonviolence is - organized love."

Bernard Haring: "It belongs to the very substance of nonviolence never to destroy or damage another person's feeling of self worth, even an opponent's."

I don't see Khan's actions as consistent with taking the steps necessary to avoid physical confrontation (violence). I don't see Khan's actions as taking reasonable steps to avoid 'oppressing' the rights of others to peacefully express themselves. I don't see Khan's statements as any reasonable attempt to avoid damaging his "opponent's" self-worth. In short, I don't see a whole lotta love from Tariq Khan.

And, you can't 'hide' behind Martin Luther King, Jr.'s statement that: "We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive." Given that Tariq Khan had many choices of 'direct action' which were less confrontational, but maybe not as "publicity creating," his choice of this specific, 'direct action' only served the purpose of creating provocation and tension, not bringing it to the surface. Therefore, he is now in the process of learning why creating such tension and violence has the undesired consequences of eclipsing his own agenda and putting his educational goals at risk.

We are only left with the question: "What did his choice of protest methods achieve?" Did they help him achieve his goals or did inappropriate behavior and bad choices lead to undesired consequences? Did he strengthen his cause or weaken and distract from its substance? Is the "problem that needs fixing" one related to "free speech on campus" or one related to "effective, fair, and peaceful free speech on campus?"

Does an individual have a right to free expression? Certainly. But, so do others. Your right to free expression does not give you the right to infringe on others' rights. Do you have the right to say what you want? Sure. But, there are consequences to every action; some of them are predictable, others are unintended. Do you have legitimate alternatives in expressing yourself effectively? Usually.

Tariq Khan had the right to protest military recruitment and the war. He did not have the right to disrupt, with potentially violent consequences, the rights of others to express their support for military recruitment and the war. Tariq Khan had the right to say what he wanted. But, he must also be willing to live with the consequences of violating the University's Code of Conduct in the methods he chose in delivering that speech. This is particularly true given that Tariq Khan had other venues (e.g., the school paper, the local media, his own "event," et al.) that could have provided him the opportunity to 'make his statement' in a non-confrontational manner consistent with University rules and policies. To have done so would have been MORE effective in that it would have allowed him to stay on message, avoided conflict with both other students and the University, along with garnering he and his message more positive attention to a more productive end.
11.17.2005 9:11pm
Hattio (mail):
Anthony,
I don't know Virginia law, but Khan was clearly assaulted under Alaska law. Basically all it requires is to put a person in reasonable fear of being hit. I would say if you are ripping signs off their chest, being hit is a pretty reasonable fear.
11.17.2005 9:43pm
Hattio (mail):
Guest who enjoys,
If you ever wound up quoting a particular University rule you think he violated, I never caught it, though admittedly, I didn't read your whole post.
As regards the fact that Khan's orginal protest wasn't against the University codes, who cares. FIRE protects anybody, if they believe their point of view is being silenced. You know, kinda like the ACLU fighting on behalf of neo-nazis. You don't have to believe what the person is saying to believe they have a right to say it.
11.17.2005 9:47pm
gr (www):
Guest who enjoys: "This intent informed, or imparted, a specific meaning to his actions and his 'statements.' "

You've done wonders for your case by refraining from using his ethnicity as evidence. But you've still got a ways to go.
11.17.2005 10:33pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Hattio: The issue isn't whether he believed what he said, the issue is whether he properly conducted himself, in concert with the University's Code of Conduct, in delivering his 'statement.' It's not that the University was restricting his right to free speech, it is that the predictable outcome of his methodology was in conflict with the intent in the code of conduct which states that the University has the responsibility "to maintain order, protect individuals and property, and fulfill the purposes and responsibilities of a university. This includes ensuring our commitment to high standards of civility and decency toward all." Further, students "in the university assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the university's funciton as an educational institution." Thus, the university has the right and the duty to maintain order and "to exclude those who are disruptive."

Given that Tariq Khan's actions had predictable consequences insofar as potential physical violence; given that his protest was predicated on a rather uncivil accusation of recruiters "lying;" given his indecent behavior in, as Anthony Leonson relates, asking how many people an individual killed; and given his obvious effort to disrupt a previously peaceful student activity/recruiter presentation, I'd say that the University would be well within their authority to institute a campus "judicial process" under the procedures/standards cited.

This is not a "speech code" issue or an attempt to prohibit Khan from expressing his point of view. You mention the KKK/Neo-Nazi case. Whether intentionally or not, you cite a good example in relation to the real issue. In his selection of method, timing, and location, there is a prima facie case to be made that Khan was in violation of the "Brandenburg Test." In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Court held:


Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.


Given the near absolute predictability of physical confrontation inherent in Khan's choice of method, timing, and location, one can reasonably infer that he was hopeful of "producing imminent lawless action" and was "likely to incite or produce such action." This is especially true in that his freedom of speech was not being restricted in his options to address the issue in equally effective choices of method, timing, and location were his intent to simply take issue with, protest, or change the University's policies vis a vis military recruitment or provide commentary related to the War. Instead, the desire was apparently to incite a confrontation for the purposes of generating publicity for his cause; which, again, was not to protest University policies related to free speech.

Here's an interesting story:


A small group of 11 Christians, representing the group "Repent America," preached the Bible to a crowd of people attending the homosexual "OutFest" event October 10, 2004. They displayed banners with Biblical messages. After a confrontation with a group called the "Pink Angels," described by protesters as "a militant mob of homosexuals," police arrested the 11 Christians and took them into custody.

After a preliminary hearing in December, a judge ordered four of the adult Christians to stand trial on three felonies and five misdemeanor charges. If convicted, they face a maximum of 47 years in prison. A fifth juvenile will stand trial in the juvenile justice system facing the same eight counts. The Philadelphia city prosecutor, Charles Ehrlich, attacked the Christians as "hateful" and referred to preaching the Bible as "fighting words"; the judge agreed. The American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy is representing the defendants.



MMMMM. "Fighting words." "Hateful." MMMMM. Let's see... "Recruiters lie." "How many people have you killed." Similar concept?

Another story:


Before they could get one of their trademark 10-foot wooden crosses fastened together, two men were arrested by Dayton, Tennessee, police officers on charges of disorderly conduct at the "Gay Day" gathering. According to The Tennessean, on May 9, 2004, Brian Charles O'Connell, 46, of Crystal River, Florida, and his friend Michael Joseph Siemer, 41, of Chattanooga, were each freed after posting $500 bond at the Rhea County Jail. They were charged with disorderly conduct, interfering with a special event and refusing to disperse after police asked them to leave, according to jail officials. Dayton Police Chief Kenneth Walker said, "They wanted to go down to protest, and we told them they couldn't."



Alright. Those were "Bible thumpers," not saintly anti-war protesters seeking martyrdom who object to military recruiters on campus. Obviously in a different league. Or is it?

The source for these two stories is:

http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/5188.html (The same article can be found at
http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=6400 )

This page is one where FIRE has an article entitled: The Troubling Resurgence of the 'Heckler's Veto.' In this article, the author, Jan LaRue laments...


Heckle means to "harass and try to disconcert with questions, challenges, or gibes." A heckler is someone apparently incapable of articulating an intelligent argument using facts and logic when facing someone with whom he disagrees. Quite often, scurrilous name-calling and imputing malicious motives to opponents are thrown in for good measure.

Hecklers often turn to government to silence politically disfavored speech by means of the "Heckler's Veto." When a government official is complicit in suppressing protected speech, it undermines the 1st Amendment by silencing the very political discourse the Amendment is meant to protect.



Uh, isn't that precisely what Tariq Khan doing? Based on this definition, isn't "heckling" exactly what his protest consisted of? "Recruiters lie - don't be fooled." "How many people have you killed?" Here's what Khan states as his position in a statement found at http://traprockpeace.org/kent_state_students
/index.php/tariq_khan/


"...I would like to express my admiration for Dave and for his courageous opposition to the unjust war the U.S. government is waging against people in Iraq. I am very happy to know that there are students at Kent State who are challenging militarism and exposing recruiting for what it is; nothing but a deceitful sales pitch for a life of servitude to a merciless human-rights violator...

It seems that Kent State officials have no problem with letting recruiters come on campus to trick students into risking their lives as cannon fodder for the military death machine...

Shame on military recruiters and their slick pack of lies...

Authoritarians are starting to get rough with us because our activism is beginning to be effective. The more effective we become, the more rabid they become. Now is the time to show that we will not be intimidated! We will not be bullied into submission! We will not be coerced into silence! We will continue to stand against war and deceitful recruiters! We will stand together and support our fellow students when thugs and goons and bullies in uniforms trample their rights! We will not shut up! And we will stand with Dave Airhart and others who are throwing wrenches into the gears of the insidious military death machine."



Let's see, we have Tariq Khan in potential violation of the Brandenburg Test (i.e., inciting unlawful actions). We have him meeting the definition of a "heckler's veto" so despised by the Supreme Court and by FIRE. We have him in violation of campus policies. What else we got?

How about the "New York Times test?" In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), the Court held, among other items, that:


Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless "actual malice" - knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth - is alleged and proved.


Is Tariq Khan "recklessly disregarding the truth" with statements such as those above? Is there provable, "actual malice" in such statements? I suppose it depends on your point of view or the paradigmatic proclivities one has regarding their view of government, the university system, or the military. But, would these statements constitute violation of the University's code vis a vis "such actions materially affect[ing] the learning environment or operation of the University?"

How about the "Chaplinsky test?" In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), we see:


There is no substantial dispute over the facts. Chaplinsky was distributing the literature of his sect on the streets [315 U.S. 568, 570] of Rochester on a busy Saturday afternoon. Members of the local citizenry complained to the City Marshal, Bowering, that Chaplinsky was denouncing all religion as a 'racket'. Bowering told them that Chaplinsky was lawfully engaged, and then warned Chaplinsky that the crowd was getting restless. Some time later a disturbance occurred and the traffic officer on duty at the busy intersection started with Chaplinsky for the police station, but did not inform him that he was under arrest or that he was going to be arrested. On the way they encountered Marshal Bowering who had been advised that a riot was under way and was therefore hurrying to the scene. Bowering repeated his earlier warning to Chaplinsky who then addressed to Bowering the words set forth in the complaint. [ahem, expletives deleted]


The Court then posited that:


Allowing the broadest scope to the language and purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is well understood that the right of free speech is not absolute at all times and under all circumstances. 2 There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention [315 U.S. 568, 572] and punishment of which has never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. 3 These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. 4 It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality. 5 'Resort to epithets or personal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution, and its punishment as a criminal act would raise no question under that instrument.' Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 309 , 310 S., 60 S.Ct. 900, 906, 128 A.L.R. 1352.


It seems that Khan was, at the very least, in violation of this test in 1.) his use of "the insulting or 'fighting' words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace," and (2.) his methods and word choices were "of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."

Let us not forget the "Cohen test." In Cohen v. California (1971), the Court reversed the appellant's conviction "of violating that part of Cal. Penal Code 415 which prohibits "maliciously and willfully disturb[ing] the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person . . . by . . . offensive conduct," for wearing a jacket bearing the words "F*** [expletive deleted by GWETS] the Draft" in a corridor of the Los Angeles Courthouse. The Court of Appeal held that "offensive conduct" means "behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace," and affirmed the conviction."

However, in this decision, the Court posited that:


The ability of government, consonant with the Constitution, to shut off discourse solely to protect others from hearing it is, in other words, dependent upon a showing that substantial privacy interests are being invaded in an essentially intolerable manner. Any broader view of this authority would effectively empower a majority to silence dissidents simply as a matter of personal predilections...

Those in the Los Angeles courthouse could effectively avoid further bombardment of their sensibilities simply by averting their eyes. And, while it may be that one has a more substantial claim to a recognizable privacy interest when walking through a courthouse corridor than, for example, strolling through Central Park, surely it is nothing like the interest in [403 U.S. 15, 22] being free from unwanted expression in the confines of one's own home. Cf. Keefe, supra. Given the subtlety and complexity of the factors involved, if Cohen's "speech" was otherwise entitled to constitutional protection, we do not think the fact that some unwilling "listeners" in a public building may have been briefly exposed to it can serve to justify this breach of the peace conviction where, as here, there was no evidence that persons powerless to avoid appellant's conduct did in fact object to it, and where that portion of the statute upon which Cohen's conviction rests evinces no concern, either on its face or as construed by the California courts, with the special plight of the captive auditor, but, instead, indiscriminately sweeps within its prohibitions all "offensive conduct" that disturbs "any neighborhood or person." Cf. Edwards v. South Carolina, supra. 4...



Could students or participants in the recruiting assemblage be considered a "captive audience?" I don't think we know enough about the specific circumstances to make that judgment here. However, the Court does repeatedly point out in the decision that their rationale was based on the State's inability to convict - "Absent a more particularized and compelling reason for its actions, the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense." However, the Court did stipulate:


Appellant's conviction, then, rests squarely upon his exercise of the "freedom of speech" protected from arbitrary governmental interference by the Constitution and can be justified, if at all, only as a valid regulation of the manner in which he exercised that freedom, not as a permissible prohibition on the substantive message it conveys. This does not end the inquiry, of course, for the First and Fourteenth Amendments have never been thought to give absolute protection to every individual to speak whenever or wherever he pleases, or to use any form of address in any circumstances that he chooses. In this vein, too, however, we think it important to note that several issues typically associated with such problems are not presented here...

This Court has also held that the States are free to ban the simple use, without a demonstration of additional justifying circumstances, of so-called "fighting words," those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942). While the four-letter word displayed by Cohen in relation to the draft is not uncommonly employed in a personally provocative fashion, in this instance it was clearly not "directed to the person of the hearer." Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 309 (1940). No individual actually or likely to be present could reasonably have regarded the words on appellant's jacket as a direct personal insult. Nor do we have here an instance of the exercise of the State's police power to prevent a speaker from intentionally provoking a given group to hostile reaction. Cf. Feiner v. New York, 340 U.S. 315 (1951); Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949). There is, as noted above, no showing that anyone who saw Cohen was in fact violently aroused or that appellant intended such a result. [403 U.S. 15, 21]...



Therefore, the 'captive audience' test is not the ONLY component of the "Cohen test." Again, as we have seen, it is evident that Tariq Khan's intent was to use "those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen [such as a Marine freshly returned from the battlefield or members of the campus ROTC], are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction" and exhibition of a sign which an "individual actually or likely to be present [such as a military recruiter] could reasonably have regarded the words...as a direct personal insult." Additionally, contrary to the facts in Cohen where there was "no showing that anyone who saw Cohen was in fact violently aroused or that appellant intended such a result," we have accusations by Khan of "violent assault." Finally, there is clear indication that the arresting officers were acting in concert with "the exercise of the State's police power to prevent a speaker from intentionally provoking a given group to hostile reaction."

What about the "Lewis test?" In Lewis v. New Orleans (1974), where the Court, in essence, reaffirmed it's definition of "opprobrious words or abusive language" presented in Gooding v. Wilson (1972) as too broad and not in concert with the more narrow definition of "fighting words" presented in Chaplinsky...; i.e., "...the proscription of the use of 'opprobrious language,' embraces words that do not "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." Thus, the so-called "Lewis test" is really an affirmation of the "Chaplinsky test" which we have already covered.

What does this leave us with? Tariq Khan is:

1.) in potential violation of the Brandenburg Test (i.e., inciting unlawful actions);
2.) meets the definition of invoking a "heckler's veto;"
3.) subjectively in violation of the New York Times Test and, on that basis, subjectively in violation of University code vis a vis "such actions materially affect[ing] the learning environment or operation of the University;"
4.) in evident violation of the Chaplinsky Test as presented above;
5.) in possible violation of the Cohen Test;
6.) and in violation of the Lewis Test insofar as it reaffirms the Chaplinsky Test.

Have we gone far enough yet for you "gr" to, if not 'make the case' for criminal prosecution, to at least suggest that the University would do well from both an institutional and possible litigation standpoint to exercise its authority under its "Judicial Code" and "Code of Conduct" to give Tariq Khan a 'stern' admonishment (whatever that might entail) regarding his choice of behavior? How about you Hattio? Is there just a chance that FIRE may be contradicting itself based on a focus centered on the trees rather than the forest? Could it be that the "problem that needs to be fixed" is to get out of the underbrush so that we can refocus our attention on the trees and the forest?
11.18.2005 1:07am
gr (www):
"Have we gone far enough yet for you "gr" to, if not 'make the case' for criminal prosecution, to at least suggest that the University would do well from both an institutional and possible litigation standpoint to exercise its authority under its "Judicial Code" and "Code of Conduct" to give Tariq Khan a 'stern' admonishment (whatever that might entail) regarding his choice of behavior?"

Nope. As a non-legal argument against your case, its problem is that it relies on military men and women being so weak willed that they cannot but turn to violence and disruption when faced with the fact that recruiters lie. This is a problem given the fact that Khan -- a veteran, didn't turn to such violence, but instead turned to silent protest, and spoke when spoken to.

Try to invert your thinking. If students rioted whenever the military came to campus, would the military be rightfully kept off because it incited it? Again, not a legal argument, just some common sense.

I think you've got a very weak case that this meets the Brandenburg test. We do have a very good case of some military men -- not Khan -- overreacting.
11.18.2005 9:01am
Tom Huff (mail):
First, I'll just say that I've known Tariq Khan since 6th grade (though I haven't spoken to him in a year or two). We grew up together in the same neighborhood, and he was always pulling stunts like this in high school. I disagree with most everything he says, but he does have quite a sense of humor about these things.

But anyway, it seems to me that the only rule at issue is the one that requires university approval to post or hand out fliers -- a rule that facially states that approval will be denied if the flier is "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University." That's clearly a content-BASED restriction, and not a valid time/place/manner restriction. Content-based restrictions trigger the "strict scrutiny" test, which this rule would clearly not survive.

All of the incitement, NY Times, etc analysis strikes me as being irrelevant, since the university rule is facially unconstitutional. It doesn't matter if Tariq's particular speech was protected (though it seems clear to me that it was); if the rule under which he is being punished is facially unconstitutional, then the university has no business punishing him for disobeying that rule. That's the classic First Amendment overbreadth doctrine.

The incitement, etc analysis was somewhat confusing to me. Tariq wasn't arrested for incitement. If they want to punish him for incitement, they have to charge him for it.

Let's suppose they HAD charged him for incitement, though. It seems pretty clear to me that his actions don't meet the Brandenburg test, which seems to require actual words of incitement to produce imminent lawless action. We don't have such words, b/c he never told anyone to do anything illegal. He didn't say, 'hey, let's go beat up those recruiters' or anything. I also think you'd be hard-pressed to find INTENT to bring about lawless action (i.e. the Brandenburg test requires the speech to be "DIRECTED to inciting ... imminent lawless action"). It seems to me that he was just protesting -- he wasn't trying to start a riot or a fight or anything.

The future does not bode well for civil disobedience in this country if a 'recruiters lie' sign is enough to meet the incitement test. This reading would make the Brandenburg test one of the weakest first amendment advocacy tests in Supreme Court history, even weaker than the Whitney case. But quite the opposite -- most commentators seem to agree that Brandenburg is the most speech-protective Supreme Court test in the advocacy area.

What if I stand in front of the White House with a sign that says 'Bush Lies'? Is that incitement too? After all, it's quite possible that a group of republicans could see the sign, get angry, and start a fight. Such a reading of Brandenburg strikes me as being unreasonable.
11.18.2005 9:42am
Seamus (mail):
guest:

You aren't seriously citing that Philadelphia case, where the 11 Christians were arrested, as a *good* thing, are you? By that reasoning, if I had been waving an American flag on the sidewalk outside my office several Sundays ago, when anti-war demonstrators were streaming through the streets, and a few of the aging hippies had run over and snatched the flag from my hands, then *I'm* the one who should have been arrested. After all, I didn't have a permit, and I was being deliberately provocative.
11.18.2005 10:35am
Anthony Leonson (mail):
Anthony,
I don't know Virginia law, but Khan was clearly assaulted under Alaska law. Basically all it requires is to put a person in reasonable fear of being hit. I would say if you are ripping signs off their chest, being hit is a pretty reasonable fear.



I'd agree it's assault, if it happened exactly as he said it did. what's missing in all of the accounts I've read at this point is any eye-witness accounts.

By the same argument, Khan is guilty of 'provoking assault'.

The student returned with another person, who said he was in the Marines and was just back from Iraq.

Khan says he asked him, "How many people did you kill?"


His actions contributed to the situation that was deteriorating.
11.18.2005 12:39pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
gr: I get it. Simply put, you won't accept ANY argument which puts Khan in the "wrong" for his actions. Thus, no further commentary is necessary except to point out that when you say - "If students rioted whenever the military came to campus, would the military be rightfully kept off because it incited it?" - you point to the actual plan. They may not be "rioting" in the sense of burning down the buildings, but they do intend creating enough disruptions that campuses feel it's not worth the trouble to allow the recruiters to continue appearing. That's documented. That's fact. Disagree with it if you want; I won't preclude your right to deny reality.

It's quite obvious that is your intent when you state: "We do have a very good case of some military men -- not Khan -- overreacting." Someone gets in your face, calls you and your cohorts "liers and killers" (which is particularly true of Marines who view the Corps as a 'brotherhood'), and when you react, you're the one who is the 'criminal;' while the guy who spewed such epithets is "lionized." Yep. That really makes for a "common sense" argument.

Oh. I'm sorry. That was not a legal argument, but a "common sense" one from a reasoned perspective.


Tom Huff: "...the only rule at issue is the one that requires university approval to post or hand out fliers -- a rule that facially states that approval will be denied if the flier is "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University."

Sorry. That's the only rule you might WISH to be at issue, but it isn't. This is an 'after the fact' attempt to justify inappropriate behavior. Khan had plenty of alternatives to effectively deliver his message, within University rules, and chose a deliberately confrontational method. He was NOT protesting the rule/policy you currently wish to eviscerate. It is only now, that the University has reacted to the inappropriate methods and their predictable results, that he and his supporters are attempting to cloud and redefine the issue. Although your strategy will probably work given the generally 'litigation-phobic' nature of most university campuses, it is a distortion of reality and a frankly "hypocritical" modus operandi.

This is why your example - "What if I stand in front of the White House with a sign that says 'Bush Lies'? Is that incitement too?" - is non sequiter. Standing in front of the White House is a far cry from deliberately inserting yourself into a specific event, crowded with the event's supporters, and 'getting in their face' with epithets. No. Khan didn't specifically say - "Please assault me" in the spoken word (at least so far as we know). But, Khan DID say this with his actions and 'invited' it with the deliberately incendiary nature of his rhetoric. The resultant verbal assault was predictable. When he was asked to leave due to his disruptive (and, thereby, unacceptable) behavior, he refused and became more incendiary in his retorts. This course of action, in contradiction to the authority and duty of event organizers and the University to maintain order and a 'safe' environment for participants (i.e., this type of disruptive behavior predictably and regularly leads to physical confrontation), was a violation of the University's code of conduct, at the very least; possibly criminal, if it were ever litigated. And, while the University has declined to press criminal charges, charges that would be supported enough, in my opinion, to go to trial based on his 'inciteful actions,' they have reserved the right, under University rules OTHER than the one you wish to refocus the discussion upon, to 'charge' him.

It takes a 'courage of your convictions' to 'get in their face' the way Tariq Khan did. It takes a 'fear of conviction' and hypocrisy to not have the 'courage to face the consequences' for 'getting in their face.' Again, you attempt to turn this into a 'civil rights' issue by trying to refocus on a rule which Khan was neither protesting nor addresses the issues at hand. You further promote this by referring to 'civil disobedience.'

His was NOT an act of civil disobedience. In fact, you and Khan BOTH (not to mention his other supporters) continue to claim that he acted legally. You cannot participate in an act of civil 'disobeience' if you are obeying the law. If he had been protesting the rule you cite rather than military recruitment and the war in general, then you MIGHT have an argument. But, that was NOT his intent. You are now attempting 'recreate' this as an act of 'disobedience' to impart a justification to unjustified behavior. The intent was to draw attention to his protest of recruitment and the war by provoking an 'incident.' Now, rather than drawing attention to the actual issues protested, he is hypocritically abandoning these issues in the context he created, 'changed the story,' to save his backside.

That may be something, but it is not having the 'courage of your convictions' that goes with true civil rights efforts and civil disobedience.


Seamus: "You aren't seriously citing that Philadelphia case, where the 11 Christians were arrested, as a *good* thing, are you?"

Try going back and rereading the context. No. It wasn't a good thing. It is a cited case of a "heckler's veto." That was the point. Tariq Khan's actions were a "heckler's veto" as well; therefore, they are analogous. You have the absolute right to protest or take issue with a particular position. You DO NOT have the right to "heckle" someone else to the point of disrupting or precluding their own right to have THEIR say.

Again, the quote from the article cited:


Heckle means to "harass and try to disconcert with questions, challenges, or gibes." A heckler is someone apparently incapable of articulating an intelligent argument using facts and logic when facing someone with whom he disagrees. Quite often, scurrilous name-calling and imputing malicious motives to opponents are thrown in for good measure.

Hecklers often turn to government to silence politically disfavored speech by means of the "Heckler's Veto." When a government official is complicit in suppressing protected speech, it undermines the 1st Amendment by silencing the very political discourse the Amendment is meant to protect.




I find it interesting that thee who protest my above liturgy focus solely on the Brandenburg Test. Did Khan have to specifically say "Physically attack me" or is the deliberate, self-evident, and verifiable intent of creating such a predictable outcome "advocacy...directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action?" Further, you must bear in mind that I wouldn't have to prove or substantiate ALL of the 6 elements I pointed to in court; let alone in the University's judicial process. I only need ONE.

But, that's not even the point.

I find it disappointing that for all your rhetoric and your myopic defense of Khan's actions, you distort and do a disservice to the 'civil rights' and 'civil disobedience' movements you purport to be participating in. You haven't got a clue. If you actually lived through these events (and, I suspect that you didn't given that Khan is 27, Huff has known him since 6th grade), you'd understand that the repercussions of your actions actually strengthened your case - IF YOU WERE ACTING BASED ON DISOBEDIENCE TO ILLEGAL AND/OR UNCONSTITUTIONAL RULES, LAWS, POLICY, OR GOVERNMENTAL ACTION.

If you wished to protest, in a 'nonviolent' or 'passive' manner, you did exactly what someone like Cindy Sheehan did. You block the street with a sit-in and ACCEPT the legal consequences; arrest, fines, etc. Such actions are not 'inciting' in the 'in your face' manner of Khan, but they DO draw attention to your intended issue; which, coincidently in this case, jibes well with Tariq Khan's. They do not directly insult ("lier/killer") a specific individual (which happens to be one of the legal tests cited above!); other than as potentially protected, 'political speech' in criticism of the President (bearing in mind that she is NOT in direct, physical proximity to the individual she is verbally accusing).

I suspect that you (with Khan as your proxy) wanted 'your day in court.' Such a 'trial' would have given you a platform to pontificate. When the University declined to prosecute in criminal court, you were denied this opportunity. Now, you are attempting to 'spin,' through tangential and unrelated attack on University policies which KHAN WAS NOT PROTESTING, a scenario which might allow you that 'day in court.' In the process, you are 'rewriting the history' of Khan's protest; effectively abandoning the issues which created the protest to begin with. As part of this revision, you also attempt to 'shield' Tariq Khan from the consequences of his actions.

That's NOT true civil rights activism. That's "neuvo-chic" activism that focuses on a self-righteous, narcissistic 'stirring of the pot' rather than actual protestation of disagreed with, 'wrong,' or 'harmful' laws, rules, policies, or government actions. You want the glory. You want the recognition. You want the feeling of self-righteousness. But, you are unwilling to truly sacrifice for your "cause." You are unwilling to engage in real debate. You attempt to persuade by force of personality, obfuscation, inaccurate revisionism, and inappropriate methodologies. You attempt to 'win hearts and minds' by distorting the "truth" while simultaneously accusing opponents of "lying." You spew 'hateful' epithets while claiming the moral high ground.

That's NOT civil rights activism. One of the credos of TRUE civil rights activism is: "the TRUTH shall set you free." The credo of the Texas Rangers applies: "A man in the wrong cannot stand against a man in the right who just keeps coming." As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated: "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence." As Bernard Haring put it: "It belongs to the very substance of nonviolence never to destroy or damage another person's feeling of self worth, even an opponent's."

Rewriting and changing the discussion when it comes to the facts of Tariq Khan's actions and intentions is not allowing the 'truth to set you free;' it is a disingenuous, New Age-like attempt to "create the truth" or "create your own reality." Getting 'in their face' in a deliberately inciting manner is not about 'a man in the right who keeps coming.' It's simply being a bully or a heckler; the very definition of resorting to the type oppression and violence Martin Luther King, Jr. eschewed. Spewing epithets of "lier/killer/thug/goon" and phrases like "military death machine" does nothing to avoid damaging another person's self-worth, even an opponent's. In fact, it is a deliberate attempt to denigrate their value as both an individual and to society.

This is the problem with the type of hyperbolic, "neuvo-chic," narcissistic activism we see Tariq Khan engaging in. It may 'excite' a few on the fringes; but, it is not very effective in either moving forward the debate or in persuading those who you wish to enlighten. It cannot because it precludes these very things. It cannot move forward the debate on a particular issue because it readily abandons any issue when it is inconvenient or engenders unexpected, personal consequences. It cannot persuade or enlighten because it is untruthful, hateful, and motivated by Inquisitional-level myopia and self-righteous, self-serving narcissism.

Again, that's not civil rights activism. It's not even effective political activism. It is becoming the very thing you claim to loathe and embracing the very philosophical underpinnings you claim to be fighting against. It also precludes any further, effective, persuasive, or reasoned discussion on this topic; which was SUPPOSED to be about 'academic freedom.' But, this was the very problem with Volokh's choice of this incident as the 'case study;' it had NOTHING to do with academic freedom to begin with.
11.18.2005 6:35pm
gr (www):
"gr: I get it. Simply put, you won't accept ANY argument which puts Khan in the "wrong" for his actions."

Arguments no. Facts, yes. I haven't seen the sorts of facts that would lead me to believe he did something wrong.

'Someone gets in your face, calls you and your cohorts "liers and killers" (which is particularly true of Marines who view the Corps as a 'brotherhood'), and when you react, you're the one who is the 'criminal;' while the guy who spewed such epithets is "lionized." Yep. That really makes for a "common sense" argument. '

I see an adult standing quietly and speaking when spoken too. And other people overreacting. If standing quietly with a sign is so powerful that it makes a veteran -- but not Khan -- helpless, then other people could have done that. No one would have ended up in jail or being sued.
11.18.2005 11:54pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
gr: I repeat - "...I won't preclude your right to deny reality."

As Anthony Leonson observed: "His actions contributed to the situation..."

As even his 'friend,' Mr. Huff states: "...he was always pulling stunts like this in high school. I disagree with most everything he says, but he does have quite a sense of humor about these things."

As for what you "see" or, more accurately, what you refuse to "see," with this incident, again, I repeat - "It also precludes any further, effective, persuasive, or reasoned discussion on this topic..."
11.19.2005 2:09am
Tom Huff (mail):
Guest who enjoys site: I'm still confused, and I think we might be talking past each other. For one, I wasn't expressing an opinion on whether or not I thought Tariq's behavior was appropriate or not. In fact, I mentioned that I disagree with most everything he says. I don't agree with his opinion that recruiters 'lie' or that they're bad or whatever. Frankly, I know very little about military recruiters and have no opinion on that issue.

I was only expressing an opinion on the First Amendment legal issues.

It seems quite clear that the University rule is plainly unconstitutional. Do you not agree? The fact that it gives the University discretion to deny approval to messages that are "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University" makes it a content-BASED restriction on speech. That triggers strict scrutiny review, which requires it to be essential (via the "least restrictive means" test) to a compelling government interest. It clearly fails strict scrutiny, as almost any content-based law does.

You mentioned that he had alternative forums in which to deliver his message. That fact would only be relevant if the rule was a time/place/manner restriction. And it is not. Time/place/manner restrictions must be content-NEUTRAL; whereas this rule was content-BASED. That is, it didn't ban ALL distribution of fliers in the cafeteria, but rather only those that the University deemed inconsistent with the educational mission of the university.

Since the rule is thus facially unconstitutional, it cannot be used itself to punish Tariq or anyone else. This is what the First Amendment Overbreadth doctrine is all about. Even if (as you contend, and I disagree), Tariq's _particular_ speech was not constitutionally protected (under an incitement theory or anything else), a restriction that could potentially cover constitutionally protected speech is always struck down _on its face_. That is, the entire rule is without effect.

As for incitement, that would only be relevant as a legal issue if Tariq were actually charged with incitement under a statute. That never happened. But for the sake of discussion, let's pretend that it did. Under the Brandenburg test, I don't think you could show subjective intent, nor likelihood. I see no reason to believe that Tariq INTENDED or DIRECTED his advocacy to cause an imminent lawless action (it's quite a stretch, in my view, to say that "recruiters lie" = "hey, let's all go do some illegal stuff right now, on the double!"). And the likelihood element requires more than a possibility --- it requires a strong probability. If you disagree with me on these factual issues, then fine -- but they're not easy standards to meet. Keep in mind that people engage in counter-marches and protests all the time. Military veterans routinely show up at anti-war rallies to stage counter-protests. They're not arrested for incitement for their mere actions of staging a counter-protest, nor should they be. Even though they put themselves in a situation in which people from the other side might get mad and attack them.

[Sidenote: The fact that I know (or at least used to know) Tariq helps me to put it into context even more. He usually looks pretty ridiculous and definitely non-threatening when pulling one of these stunts.]

Finally, I do have to admit that I was sloppy with my language when I said 'civil disobedience.' I should have said was something like 'a democratic form of government,' or 'the marketplace of ideas.'
11.19.2005 2:12am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Tim Huff: You are correct, to a point, that we are talking past each other. I refuse to be drawn into 'excusing' or 'ignoring' the inappropriateness of Khan's behavior while using this incident as an 'excuse' to address a not so unusual University policy. In fact, for Volokh, you, or others to use Khan's 'performance' as a case study in what's wrong with university policies is a non-sequiter and an intellectually dishonest way of approaching the problem.

If you wish to discuss 'academic freedom' for both students and teachers as a 'constitutional' matter, then fine. Then do that. But, to 'excuse' inappropriate, nigh on to asnine, behavior in the interest of dealing with YOUR issue, not Khan's stated issues, is just flat wrong. Likewise, to 'ignore' his behavior as it somehow allows you to incongruously draw attention to what you hold to be a 'greater evil' is morally inexcusable and does a real disservice as well as demonstrates a very real disrespect for true, civil rights activism.

Tariq Khan's behavior helps neither HIS issues, nor is it a proper "door" to slip through YOURS. If he "looked" stupid or humorous to those who 'know' him, then your amusement was at the expense of others who have valid reasons for feeling insulted, denigrated, reviled, and stepped upon by that same behavior. That is NOT something that is acceptable to true-blood, civil rights activists. Exhibiting and participating in the same behaviors you claim to be fighting against is NOT a truthful, intellectually consistent, or morally superior approach to proper discourse on very real issues.

The outcome was perfectly predictable. If Khan didn't intend or anticipate that outcome, he's guilty of being either stupid, naive, or so narcissistic as to be 'clinically blind' rather than 'myopic' when it comes to public demonstration of his 'cause.' If he is intelligent, which seems to be the case; if he is experienced, which he seems to be gathering; and if he truly believes in what he says, then there is no intellectually honest way to not see what you refer to as the 'strong probability' of the 'likelihood element' that he intended 'confrontation' which would predictably degenerate into what occurred.

Again, you are 'blinded' by the form and not the substance of what you perceive to be 'civil rights activism.' People ARE arrested all the time for potential incitement, et al. It may not be 'right.' It may not even end up being 'Constitutional' when litigated; but it DOES happen. Again, see the article I cited above found at these two websites:

http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/5188.html
http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=6400

Counter-marches and protest rallies usually involve more than ONE individual inserting himself into a situation. Three expressions you should be aware of are: 1.) "There's safety in numbers," (2.) "There's strength in numbers," and (3.) "Upon the testimony of two or more witnesses..." How many were arrested with Cindy Sheehan in her most recent 'sit-in?' How about the more famous sit-in's of the '70s?

Look at the anti-recruiting protests in San Francisco. They showed up, in numbers, with signs (very similar in content to Khan's) and in voice. They showed up with the media. They made their point. They had their say. The recruiters just shrugged. And, eventually, those who wished, were allowed to get to the recruiters and talk.

Everything was reasonably and peacefully handled. It might behoove you and Tariq Khan to meditate on the differences; particularly given the virtually identical nature of the goals and the circumstances.

As for the Brandenburg Test, again, you ignore the point I made above. Difficult, perhaps. Impossible, no. But, it is just ONE of SIX points, or tests, that I could use to bring charges. You further ignore the reality that the University does NOT have to bring 'criminal' charges to deal with the issue. The University has it's own 'judicial process,' authorized by statute, where the burden of proof IS subjectively less than in the formal atmosphere of a criminal court. Further, although under University rules Khan is entitled to a 'public' hearing, it is NOT the same as a courtroom.

Remember these rules, posted above?


5. The right not to be punished and censured unless the decision maker, on the basis of the evidence, is persuaded that the student is guilty...

7. The right to a public hearing unless the hearing body determines that a public hearing would unduly and adversely affect the proceedings or interests of others. A public hearing is defined as one where spectators approved by the involved parties or the university may be present.

8. The right to appeal decisions to a higher authority or hearing body within the administrative channels provided by the George Mason University Judicial System.



This is why your continued reliance on the logic of - ..."that would only be relevant as a legal issue if Tariq were actually charged with incitement under a statute..." - is, itself, irrelevant. The University has the statutory authority to handle this incident on their own terms, under circumstances they control, by their own rules rather than the 'criminal code.' The 'legal issues' of the Supreme Court 'tests' I cite ARE relevant to the decision-making process of how to proceed with the ultimate resolution. If they were to expel Khan, then it will be because they feel they can meet one or more of the challenges presented by the tests I cite should Khan decide to sue for redress. But, they do NOT need to rely on these tests to simply find that Tariq Khan has violated the school's code of conduct. In other words, the focus would be on Khan's conduct in delivering his 'speech,' NOT on the content thereof.

And that, sir, has absolutely NOTHING to do with the policies you wish to engage over!!!

Now, will the University go that far? Probably not. As I said, university administrators tend to be somewhat litigation-phobic; although I have known a few who do not fear it one whit.

If you really wish to review the 'constitutionality' of University policies regarding "academic freedom," I suggest that you might want to read the work found at the following website:

http://www.rbs2.com/afree.htm

Although I find the thought a trifle 'scary,' he has a viable argument. I'm sure Volokh and others might wish to take issue with his salient points, particularly given that a discourse on 'academic freedom' seems to be one of Volokh's pet projects. This should provide you with sufficient food for thought as a theoretical matter.

As a practical matter, you posit:


It seems quite clear that the University rule is plainly unconstitutional. Do you not agree? The fact that it gives the University discretion to deny approval to messages that are "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University" makes it a content-BASED restriction on speech.


There are many, many instances where content-based restrictions on speech are legal, Constitutional, and appropriate. Obscenity (see Roth and Miller Tests), libel (see New York Times and Hustler Magazine tests), 'fighting words' (as we have discussed), nudity (if we accept public nudity or Playboy Centerfolds as 'speech,' see Erznoznik and Barnes tests), 'hate' speech may, or may not, be protected [see Garrison v. Louisiana (1964) and R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992)], and even some forms of 'commercial speech' are prohibited. Religious expression has been severely curtailed on campuses. Have you read some of the 'sexual harrassment' policies recently? How about the use of racial descriptors which are NOT intentionally used as 'hate' speech but may be 'inappropriate?' Ever try to engage a science professor in a discussion of 'metaphysical' inquiry in his/her classroom? The list goes on.

Academia is a place for free thought and pushing (note I didn't say 'breaking') the boundaries of productive intellectual inquiry. A 'free exchange of ideas' in an academic setting means to: advance knowledge, provide the potential for self-fulfillment (Maslow's 'self-actualization'), to explore lines of thought without fear of reprisal, to determine truth through debate (i.e., 'controlled' adversarial discourse), and to learn what is important to say (which begs the inverse, i.e., to learn what is important NOT to say).

In order for this 'free exchange' to effectively, efficiently, and productively take place, there MUST be rules which govern or define the boundaries for the 'marketplace of ideas.' This is precisely what the University is stating with your reviled: "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University." Obscenity, libel, fighting words, nudity, hate speech, some forms of religious expression, and some forms of commercial speech ALL find limits placed upon them in various disciplines, individual classrooms, and educational forums on EVERY SINGLE CAMPUS in this country. Without these limitations, you would not have a functional marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. You would have a cacophony of chaos that served no practical or constructive educational purpose.

This is the problem with your continued insistence on using the incident with Tariq Khan as your 'test case' of undue, unconstitutional, and 'repressive' abuse of this necessary and common University policy. His "speech" was NOT the issue, nor was it abusively repressed, insofar as University approval of its content. Further, his expressed protest was NOT about limitations on his speech; it was about military recruitment and the war in general. In fact, he was violating others' rights to exchange ideas by deliberately disrupting their forum. That's a behavioral, not a content, issue; and the issue was handled on that basis in its 'immediacy.' Thus, it falls under the "Code of Conduct," not the policy you wish to attack and engage over, when it comes to any future, administrative action.

So, yes, we are talking past each other in that you want to engage over a 'nonissue' insofar as the specifics of the incident involving Tariq Khan. You wish to dismiss, or 'talk past,' the behavioral problems and get to an issue that was not predicated by, related to, or challenged by the incident itself. That's the part I won't 'talk past' in that the discussion you wish to engage in and which Volokh wished to engender does NOT follow from this incident.

Now, if Volokh would like to take the above post related to 'academic freedom,' or something in a similar vein, and spin his own thread for such a discussion, I'm up for that. Then we may be able to effectively 'speak to' and not 'talk past' each other.
11.19.2005 6:48am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Sorry I mistyped your name as "Tim" rather than "Tom" in the last post. My fault. My apology.
11.19.2005 6:49am
gr (www):
"As Anthony Leonson observed: "His actions contributed to the situation..." "

A lot of actions contributed to the situation. All of them actually. Of all the actions though, his were the most passive.

"It also precludes any further, effective, persuasive, or reasoned discussion on this topic..."

And my claim here is that if people responded as he did: with quiet signs, the discussion would have been more reasoned. If people responded as his attackers did, tearing up his signs and arresting him, the discussion would have been less so. He elevated the discussion. His attackers brought it down.
11.19.2005 8:56am
Tom Huff (mail):
Hmm... now I'm really confused, so I'll try keep this short.

(1) You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I think Tariq is some sort of civil rights hero or that he represents some sort of cause I want to get behind. But I've said twice now that I disagree with him. I'm only interested in discussing First Amendment law here, as it applies to the rule that Professor Volokh mentioned in his post.

(2) The rule that requires university approval to post or hand out flyers -- approval that is discretionary and that will be denied to content that is "inconsistent with the educational mission of the University" -- is a content-BASED restriction. (I think you seemed to agree with this much, at least). There are only two ways such a restriction can be upheld, and the GMU rule in question fails both:

(a) A content-BASED restriction must be ESSENTIAL (via the 'least restrictive means' test) to a COMPELLING government interest. This is strict scrutiny, and is almost impossible for any restriction to withstand. The rule in question plainly fails, as the discretion it gives to University officials to allow or deny the message is most definitly not the least restrictive option by which it could accomplish its goal (in fact, it seems to me that it's pretty much the 'most' restrictive means -- it doesn't even put the public on notice as to what specifically is prohibited). There is also almost certainly no compelling interest (if the Supreme Court says flag-burning laws don't meet a compelling government interest, then surely this rule doesn't either -- the 'compelling interest' is an almost impossible test to pass).

(b) The other way a content-BASED rule can survive is if it ONLY restricts non-protected speech (like obscenity, fighting words, hate speech, incitement, kiddie porn, perjury, etc). Doctrinally, this isn't a restriction on 'speech' at all -- since it only covers stuff that by definition isn't 'speech' for the purposes of the First Amendment. But a rule restricting unprotected speech may be neither OVERBROAD nor VAGUE. It must cover CLEARLY and ONLY non-protected speech -- there can be NO substantial overlap into protected speech. The problem with the GMU rule in question is that it can clearly reach all sorts of protected speech. If the University wants to promulgate a rule prohibiting incitement or any other category of non-protected speech, then the rule must be narrowly drafted such that it ONLY covers that non-protected speech. Whereas the GMU rule in question could cover ANY speech under the sun that the University happens to decide is inconsistent with its educational goals.

(3) The University may well have statutory authority to carry out administrative functions such as rulemaking and adjudication. And its adjudication procedures may be far more lax those of an article III court. But there is no administrative law exception to the First Amendment. An agency cannot promulgate an unconstitutional rule. If it attempts to do so, you can get judicial review of the agency adjudication in an Article III court. You could just sue the approprate university official under 42 USC 1983 for violation of your first amendment rights and get to federal court.
11.19.2005 2:30pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
gr: You claim, and this seems to be your essential premise:

Of all the actions though, his were the most passive.

Sorry to disillusion you, but Khan's actions were the FIRST proactive ones. He showed up at an event that he disagreed with. He inserted himself into a situation with an patently 'hostile' message related to the event itself, refused to leave when asked (nicely and not so nicely), and became even more 'hostile' with his message as the situation amped up. That's NOT passive.

If your sensibilities do not preclude it, take a boxing or martial arts course. Take a look at military strategy throughout history. The perception of 'passivity' is often an proactive (the overtness of which is deliberately 'shielded' from view) attempt to create a situation which precipitates a perceptually more 'active' circumstance. This is not an issue of degree, but one of perception. In this case, you don't perceive HIS actions as proactive because you judge them against a 'false' sense of 'passivity.' You have a specific perception of 'victimhood' and an effete sense of 'proper behavior' that skews your ability to fairly put others' response behavior within a properly objective context.

This mindset on your part is demonstrated with your statement:


He elevated the discussion. His attackers brought it down.


Asnine, heckling, narcisstic behavior does not elevate any discussion. He got what he gave. The discussion was not 'brought down,' it just made a lateral move within the gutter it started in. If you want to 'elevate' the discussion, you choose an effective method; acceptable, non-pejorative language; and recognize that your goal is to persuade or enlighten, not to alienate from the start. Instead, Tariq Khan started with epithets, chose a deliberately ineffective methodology, and alienated himself and his 'audience' right from the start. He started with a 'street fight' and that's what he got; a fairly mild one insofar as the 'abuse' he purports to have received in return.

You see, some people still find it more honest, intellectually and morally, to say it straight out or act openly rather than hide behind a deliberately condescending, dishonestly labeled, and obviously hostile claim of passivity which immorally attempts to hijack the form, but not the substance, of TRUE 'passive resistance.' But, as I indicated, that's obviously not a reality you're comfortable with.



Tom Huff: As you say, we're talking past each other. YOU were the one who associated Tariq Khan with 'civil rights activism' in the first place:


I was wondering your views on the civil rights movement?



It doesn't matter if Tariq's particular speech was protected (though it seems clear to me that it was); if the rule under which he is being punished is facially unconstitutional, then the university has no business punishing him for disobeying that rule.


The very fact that you want to turn this into a discussion of 1st Amendment law MAKES it a de facto discussion of civil rights. As I have repeatedly said, it is NOT the content of Tariq Khan's speech which is at issue; although it could be made so if that was the direction the University had chosen to pursue. Therefore, his 1st Amendment rights are NOT at issue. It is the method and manner of his delivery of the speech; personal behavior, not content of speech. YOU may want to get past that, ignore it, not wish to support it, not turn it into a 'cause,' or not make him into a 'hero;' but the context of this discussion and the use of this incident to piggyback your agenda DOES just that.

In short, Volokh's and your mistake is that you want to talk about something unrelated to the actual incident and I'm tired of pointing that out. I've also grown weary of attempting to show you the illogic and the conundrum you create in saying "it's not about him" - "it's about the rules that affect him" - "although I avoid grappling with the concept that the rules that affect him weren't relevant to the situation" - "it's about the rules which weren't relevant to the situation" - "but I've said twice that I don't agree with him" - "but it's about the rules that I don't agree with that he brought to light" - "but he wasn't protesting or even pointing to or even affected by those rules that he had no intention of bringing to light, even though he could have" - "but that's what I want to talk about because they affect him" .... ad nauseum.

The array of analogies are plentious and unnecessary. Simply put, YOU want to discuss something that is unrelated to the actual facts of the incident. You want to parade your opinion and knowledge of First Amendment law and your opinions related to "academic freedom" but ignore the fact that you are doing so in the context of civil rights and that by using this incident as your vehicle you impart, imply, or confer a certain 'legitimacy' and 'relevance' to Tariq Khan's behavior that does not belong, follow, or exist related to the incident itself.

That's intellectually dishonest. That's intellectually inconsistent. And, it's morally repugnant as regards the sensibilities of those impacted by the incident and as regards the disservice it does to "real" civil rights discourse.

As I said, if you, or Volokh for that matter, wish to discuss First Amendment Law as it relates to 'academic freedom,' then do so within a proper context, using an appropriate 'vehicle' or 'case study.' You COULD just simply get a thread started, totally unrelated to Khan, based on the policies found at GMU, UCLA, or pick just about ANY university and pull their policy out; they're ALL quite similar. (In fact, Volokh has repeatedly brought this issue up, including within the context of UCLA because he seems to have the same difficulties with their policies. This has led to his improper use of this particular situation to trot out a favorite topic. One certainly worth discussion, but NOT IN THIS CONTEXT.)

I have suggested a 'straw man,' or 'tool' if you will, by pointing to an essay on "academic freedom" available on the web around which you may address specific, relevant case law, judicial philosophies, and actual policies. Thus far, all you have done is posit YOUR opinion on a specific University policy you disagree with. Further, you dismiss all legal arguments related to the actual incident, not by specifically addressing them, but by saying and/or implying "he can sue;" or attempting to turn the entire issue based on your perceived difficulties related to ONE of the SIX potential SCOTUS issues.

Sure he can sue. As I've said, that very issue may preclude any further University action; not based on insurmountable legal obstacles, but a near universal 'phobia' held by academic administators related to litigation. But how might he win if his 'speech' does not meet the tests I point to? Or, even more relevant, if his behavior is found to violate the University's "Code of Conduct;" that being the sole issue any court would have to narrowly focus on despite the non-sequiter, objectable, and irrelevant cries from supporters related to the content of his speech. Once again, and this is the LAST time I'm going to point this out, his behavior under the "Code of Conduct" is NOT protected by ANY First Amendment argument you wish to engage in; and is particularly irrelevant if the University does not point to the content of his speech, but the obvious, forseeable, and expected consequences related to public safety and disruptive behavior. If he HAD been protesting the University's policy, then you MIGHT have an actual argument to make in this context. But the actual FACTS of the incident DO NOT SUPPORT SUCH AN APPROACH.

The substance of your response to this issue is to repeatedly claim - "That's not what I want to talk about." That's NOT discourse; particularly not 'contextual discourse.' That's not even debate. That's a soundbite for political prosyletizing. That's ego stroking. It ain't civil rights, it ain't First Amendment Law, and it ain't worth any more time in this context.

I came for a sermon and what do I hear? I've heard preaching to the choir and I've heard the choir sing. You may want to pass the plate before we adjorn, but it don't mean I have to contribute any more of my time or 'money.'
11.19.2005 6:44pm
gr (www):
"He got what he gave."

I wish. The whole situation would have been much better if everyone stood next to each other quietly holding signs and speaking when spoken to.

Why is this whole thing working you up so much? Are you that concerned with making sure that this:

"Sorry to disillusion you, but Khan's actions were the FIRST proactive ones. He showed up at an event that he disagreed with."

Is punishable?
11.19.2005 8:01pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
gr: If you're going to try to get the last word, then courteously quote the ENTIRE context, not a misrepresentation of my words with a truncated quotation.

Let me leave you with the same type of 'currency' as my donation to your 'cause' - "Why is this whole thing working you up so much that you offer the pretense of civility while proffering nothing but insult through misrepresentation, misdirection, and misappropriation?"

Oops. I'm sorry. That's quite obviously your reality again. You hear what you WANT to hear and SEE what you WANT to see, while offering an obstreperously false illusion of passivity. Of course, that could just be my 'helpless victimization' coming to the fore given my aggressive adherence to reason, fact, logical argument, intellectual honesty, and moral consistency. I know. I know. Blasphemy and heresay in your particular "Church of the Passive First Punch."

What do I mean by that? Simply put, it is the philosophy of the schoolyard bully who waits until the teacher's attention is turned to taunt, tease, or hit some classmate. Then, when the kid who is taunted, teased, or hit strikes back, you go bawling to the teacher about how "he teased/hit me" and do everything you can to make sure that they are the ones to get in trouble. After all, you were just the innocent, passive one in the whole thing; at least insofar as you would have the teacher believe. Unfortunately, this time, someone saw what you did.

There. I've made my donations. I've listened to you talk amongst yourselves and not heard an epistle; only encomia for a fellow member. I waited for a hellfire and brimstone sermon, but only received a liturgy of quoted verses from the "Book of Disingenuousness." I prayed for a choral symphony and only heard a dirge. Now, I exit the church without further damnation to purgatory - I have done my penance. Rest assured that I shall pity you in your self-immolation.
11.19.2005 9:02pm