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Supposedly Harmful Speech as Enjoinable Nuisance?

I just noticed a remarkable lawsuit, Wright v. Islamic Center; the plaintiffs were trying to enjoin the construction of a mosque. The theory? Construction of the mosque would be a "public nuisance," because the mosque would "spread radical Islam throughout the United States," would help make the county even more of "a haven for terrorists" than it was before, and thus create "a clear and present danger to the ... community." (The complaint also raises objections to the supposed extra traffic that the mosque's presence would cause, but that's not the core of the allegations.)

A creative tort law theory, and in my view entirely misplaced, both as a matter of substantive tort law and the First Amendment. If some people associated with the mosque have been engaged in speech that fits within some narrow exception to First Amendment protection, it should be punished for that speech. If they have committed some other crime, then they can be punished for committing that crime. But you can't enjoin a political or religious organization from erecting a building based on the organization's supposed past bad speech, just as it can't enjoin the publication of a newspaper based on the newspaper's supposed past libelous articles.

Fortunately, the plaintiffs have dropped the lawsuit, at least for now. Let's hope it stays dropped. Again, if the mosque founders have done something illegal, punish them for that; don't try to use the courts to shut up their religious teachings or block their religious buildings because they supposedly "spread radical Islam."

Nathan_M (mail):
I would think it would be more appropriate to shut down The Klayman Law Firm for spreading ridiculous legal theories throughout the state of Florida. The firm is a haven for bad lawyering, and its continued existence presents a clear and present danger to the legal community.
2.28.2008 6:45pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Bear in mind that Florida also contains attorney (for the moment) Jack Thompson. The bar (not to mention the Bar) isn't set to high, apparently.
2.28.2008 6:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
It should be kicked for lack of a redressable injury.
2.28.2008 7:07pm
Hoosier:
A mosque was built in our town a few years back. Still no rise in radical Islamist terror in the middle of Indiana. But I'll report back if the situation changes.
2.28.2008 7:32pm
BRM:
On first glance I thought the title of this post was "Supposedly Harmful Speech as Enjoyable Nuisance," which sounds strangely interesting. Perhaps one might secretly enjoy the loud music played by one's neighbor late at night.
2.28.2008 7:32pm
ReaderY:
There have to be sanctions for people who use the filing of a frivolous lawsuit as part of an effort to deprive people of their constitutional rights. The complaint admits, on its face, that the purpose of the lawsuit is malicious: it is an effort to suppress the speech of people the plaintiff disagrees with, and it describes itself as such.

If I were the mosque I'd make sure my lawyers were charging rates high enough the plaintiff who gets the tab will think twice about filing another one of these.
2.28.2008 7:44pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Surely the free exercise clause would trump any legitimacy to the proposed cause of action (and I'm not saying it's legitimate).

That being said, I've long felt religions should be held strictly liable for the actions of their believers. Religion is a business just like any other, and if its product is causing people to harm others, it is defective. If the first amendment prevents us from taking the defective product out of the stream of commerce (I'm not sure that it does, is preaching "kill abortion doctors in the name of christ" constitutionally protected religious speech?), it surely doesn't prevent us from holding the manufacturer of the product financially liable for any damage that it proximately causes. Just a thought....
2.28.2008 7:44pm
CEB:
This is one of the most shocking examples of bad faith lawyering I have heard of--both in its malice toward the defendant and in its disregard of the law. In a better world it would be grounds for disbarment.
2.28.2008 7:56pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Well, we have one of the larger Mosques here near UCLA and it definitely generated a murderous terrorist plot.
2.28.2008 8:07pm
Fub:
No question that the suit has no good basis in law. But the affidavit in support, if accurate, does give some cause for concern.
2.28.2008 8:15pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I blogged about this frivolous case on Overlawyered back when it was filed.
2.28.2008 8:50pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
If the group proposing to build the mosque can be shown to be engaged in an ongoing criminal conspiracy (e.g. training terrorists, inciting violence), presumably construction could be blocked on the same grounds as are used to shut down Hell's Angels outposts and so forth. That has the virtue of dealing with the problem without infringing on freedom of speech or legitimate religious observance. Presumably most groups proposing to build mosques will not fall into this category.
2.28.2008 9:51pm
MarkJ (mail):
This is all very nice, but mosques have had a distressing tendency in recent years to be as much about "staking out turf" as about anything else.

Try this on for size:

http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=139123
2.29.2008 12:16am
Kolohe:
"Try this on for size"

The article says they're building a 100 ft and change minaret in the middle of a bunch of 200 ft and change church steeples.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.


As an aside, they appear to be using the Ottoman style (vice the Arabian), which IMO is superior architecturally anyway.
2.29.2008 12:41am
Markit (mail):
My own understanding of orthodox islam is that it demands converting, subjugating, or killing nonbelievers, (e.g. Quran verse 9:5 "Then kill the Mushrikun {unbelievers} wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush." and 9:29 "Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.") as well as to kill apostates from Islam, stone adulterers, kill homosexuals, etc., etc. As far as I can see these are generally accepted tenets of orthodox Islam (I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though) that are meant to be followed literally by devout Muslims. My question is when would teaching, preaching, and encouraging this step over the bounds of protected speech and be considered incitement to violence?
2.29.2008 1:53am
L (mail):
One way to handle this might be to show that Islam is not a religion at all, but rather a murderous international totalitarian conspiracy.
2.29.2008 1:59am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

One way to handle this might be to show that Islam is not a religion at all, but rather a murderous international totalitarian conspiracy.

Nothing prevents Islam or other such movements from being both murderous international totalitarian conspiracies and religions. Religion in general is neither historically nor by nature benign.
2.29.2008 2:08am
Bombast:
Bill Poser, you presume wrong.

Pick a mosque at random. Attend for 6 weeks. Within that time you will hear pronouncements that the Americans must and will die, the Jews must and will die, the world will come to Allah, that it is Allah's will that only Muslims will rule, etc.

Not everyone in every mosque believes these things. But virtually every mosque has those who believe them, and virtually all "moderate" Muslims ignore and tolerate them. Some think it's just boilerplate ritual rhetoric, like a Latin catechism that most Catholics ignore and don't understand. Others think it's true and must be said, though they don't say it themselves.

From 2003-2005 I attended 6 mosques in southern California, including the Orange County Islamic Center where Adam Gadahn was radicalized. They ALL had people who said these things, in English, in public, on a regular basis. They were never subject to rebuke or rejection. Some ignored them, some nodded in agreement.
2.29.2008 2:15am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Bombast,

I think that if you read my post carefully you will see that what I presumed is merely that most mosques are not engaged in an on-going criminal conspiracy. I am quite familiar with the pervasive hostility toward non-Muslims of mainstream Islam. The behaviour that you describe, offensive though it is, does not constitute a criminal conspiracy on the part of the mosque. The kind of generalized hatred you mention, for example, does not constitute the particularized incitement to violence that is subject to prosecution.
2.29.2008 4:00am
Happyshooter:
I agree with what EV just said as policy and it should be the law. It is not.

Look at the KKK building cases (the KKK believes violence against blacks is a good idea, a member carries out violent act, sanction of imposing loss of building and assets is fine) and the supreme court disfavored religion case (law school grad is also member of faith which dislikes blacks, he can be denied government license due to his faith).

Under those two cases, and similar cases, darn right Islam can be denied a government permit to erect a building. They are a hate faith as set forth in their basic document.

The law is wrong, and should be changed, but the plaintiffs were legally right.
2.29.2008 8:04am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Bill Poser,


"The kind of generalized hatred you mention, for example, does not constitute the particularized incitement to violence that is subject to prosecution."



You may be right. You sound like a lawyer and it does not appear that there has been much in the way of prosecution for the leaders and followers of the Religion of Peace to demand that Americans, Jews, homosexuals and apostates die.

But are these examples of "generalized hatred?" How specific does incitement to murder have to get to draw the attention of the law?

Is it sensitivity toward religion in general that keeps the legal beagles at bay? It would be an interesting experiment if Presbyterians or Baptists were to fulminate every Sunday morning demanding that the people in the pews plot to kill, say, Muslims. I'm sure we can find passages in the Old Testament that would support killing them all. Would that be a "generalized hatred?" Would it affect their tax exemption? Would some excuse be found to end this threat to peace?

We ask the question … you decide.
2.29.2008 8:17am
Tracy Johnson (www):
The tables have turned and now they find they're playing the part of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. So so by a legal process of rumor and innuendo, and "unsealed letters", claim that if the Muslims build, they will "revolt" and "mutiny" against the state (king)?
2.29.2008 9:16am
Prof. S. (mail):

Bill Poser Bombast, you presume wrong.

Pick a mosque Christian Church at random. Attend for 6 weeks. Within that time you will hear pronouncements that the Americans Middle Easterners must and will die, the Jews Muslims must and will die, the world will come to Allah Jesus, that it is Allah's Jesus' will that only Muslims Christians will rule, etc.

Not everyone in every mosque church believes these things. But virtually every mosque church has those who believe them, and virtually all "moderate" Muslims Christians ignore and tolerate them. Some think it's just boilerplate ritual rhetoric, like a Latin catechism the Quran that most Catholics Muslims ignore and don't understand. Others think it's true and must be said, though they don't say it themselves.

From 2003-2005 I Prof. S. attended 6 mosques christian churches . . . They ALL had people who said these things, in English, in public, on a regular basis. They were never subject to rebuke or rejection. Some ignored them, some nodded in agreement.


Fixed.
2.29.2008 9:37am
Ken Arromdee:
Fixed.

It's not fixed unless you have reason to believe the sentences are still true after your word substitution. Are you speaking from actual experience in churches the way the previous poster was in mosques?
2.29.2008 9:44am
George Smith (mail):
Prof S.

What complete twaddle.
2.29.2008 10:02am
Crafty Hunter (www):
Mohammedanism is fundamentally evil for the reasons listed above. The explicit text of the Koran is unmistakable. This so-called "religion of peace" inherently requires the murder and slavery of those outside of this violently dangerous cult. I will be blunt. I will oppose it with with all my might, and even more so than I would oppose more ordinary vermin such as muggers, rapists, burglars, murderers and child molesters.

There is to be no compromise with evil. Mohammedanism should be simply banned as a criminal enterprise at root. It is not a religion, notwithstanding propaganda to the contrary.

The sole quibble is that I fully recognise that many millions of people have been trapped unwillingly and/or unknowingly in this cult by virtue of unfortunate birth, and should be given every chance to knowingly and willingly abandon this death cult for a far more peaceful and infinitely less evil "real" religion, or of course for no religion at all but clear-headed rational liberty.
2.29.2008 10:05am
pete (mail) (www):
Prof S. I have visited or regularly attended some very conservative evangelical Christian churches pretty much every Sunday for over 10 years. I have never heard any incitement towards violence towards Muslims, Middle Easterners, or any one else by any member of the churches.

If there was any talk of people deserving to die, it was the speaker saying that about himself or the people at the sevice seserving to die for their sins, but being forgiven by God anyways.

Have you ever actually been to a church service where they preached violence? Which one was it?
2.29.2008 10:16am
ejo:
of course Prof S's statement is complete twaddle. He hasn't been to six churches and he hasn't heard any such thing being preached. I'm sure, even in his fantasy, he didn't here non-christians referred to as the spawn of dogs and pigs. I also think there is, as a matter of theology, a difference between a belief that God will do something and a belief that we need to get a nuclear bomb to hurry things along a bit. this stuff could only come from a professor.
2.29.2008 10:16am
ejo:
I do like the Matthew Hale reference above-he was denied a law license for spouting a white supremacist philosphy that sounded a lot like what regularly gets expounded by those who practice the Islamic faith. knowing what gets preached in such mosques and who funds them, you would be nuts to want one anywhere near you.
2.29.2008 10:20am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
prof s. is a liar
2.29.2008 10:28am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
more to the point, he's a stupid liar.
He is too dumb to know that everybody who reads this crap knows better, making him look really, really....
2.29.2008 10:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Having said that, I enjoy a nuisance as much as the next guy.
2.29.2008 10:56am
BruceM (mail) (www):
Crafty Hunter, I agree that islam is inherently evil, at least insofar as it's based on the Koran. However, I think Christianity is almost just as bad. While Christianity doesn't explicitly command its followers to murder non-christians, the very nature of Christianity is that you can do whatever you want - zero accountability - as long as you love and accept Jesus Christ. No matter what you do, you are forgiven. This is why I don't trust devout Christians - in my experience they are the most unethical people in the world, because they feel morally superior to everyone else and they Know (with the capital "K") that they can steal your car, rape your wife, and burn your house down without consequence because they love Jesus and have a fish on the bumper of their cars.

Which is worse - explicit commands to do evil, or commands that if you "accept jesus" (which is subjective, unverifiable, and requires nothing but a stipulation) you will be forgive for whatever evil you do?

At this moment in human history, #1 (Islam) is worse. That has more to do with economics and prosperity than anything else. Several centuries ago, when Christianity was in the dark ages and Islam was having an intellectual renaissance, the situation was reversed. Christianity is getting worse - more fundamentalist and extremist. Unfortunately, there's no sign that Islam is becoming more moderate. If things keep going the way they are, fighting faith with faith (the American rise in spirituality after 9/11 is a sad example - countering faith-based terrorism with equal and opposing faith), every person on the planet will be dead, and there will be nothing left but charred, broken down churches and mosques.
2.29.2008 11:33am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Bruce.
Planet check. This is Earth.
2.29.2008 12:05pm
pete (mail) (www):

While Christianity doesn't explicitly command its followers to murder non-christians, the very nature of Christianity is that you can do whatever you want - zero accountability - as long as you love and accept Jesus Christ.


I think saint Paul might disagree with you there on the basic nature of Christianity. Romans 6, NIV:


1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.


There are other similar passages, but I think that gets the point across.
2.29.2008 12:25pm
EricE:
No lawsuit is necessary.

Preservation of "prevailing community character" is sufficient grounds to prevent any building from being constructed that looks like a mosque. Many communities have land use laws that regulate architectural style.

In Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley several years ago, a congregation applied for a permit to add minarets to a building in conjunction with a change in use. The minarets exceeded the height limit, and the permit was denied. The architect changed the design and shortened the minarets and the building met all applicable regulations. The permit was again denied because, with minarets, the building did not "match the prevailing Spanish style" of architecture.

I believe that the congregation was allowed to use the building as a mosque for religious purposes, it just couldn't look like a mosque. This stuff happens every day.

Then the question becomes, if it looks like a taco stand or a cheesy medical building or a commercial storefront, is it still a mosque? Is a mosque defined by its use or its architectural qualities, or both?
2.29.2008 1:08pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Pete, I don't think it gets the point across at all, it's just ramblings about sin and death. Regardless, even if there were a passage somewhere in the Bible that clearly says "even if you truly accept jesus in your heart, you will still burn in hell if you're an evil person" people would ignore it, at least I think they would... but the bottom line is no such passage exists.

Come on, you've never asked a Christian if Hitler would/could go to heaven if he accepted Jesus into his heart and received an affirmative answer? (Catholics would also say he'd have to repent for his sins). As a Christian, do you think Hitler could go to heaven if he repented for the holocaust, opened his hearth up to Jesus, and accepted Christ as his savior and thus became born again, yadda yadda? If not, why not? Forgiveness is the very essence of christianity. Forgiveness for your sins, and your forgiveness of the sins of others.

Don't get me wrong, I think America would be a better place if Christians actually followed the teachings of christ. For example, no showing off your faith (jesus would not have a jesus fish on the back of his car to advertise his faith, and would be disgusted at the notion). But to a large extent, doing what Jesus would do is impractical. I mean, are you really willing to forgive the person who raped your 6 year old child? That's WJWD.
2.29.2008 1:18pm
markm (mail):
Bruce.
Planet check. This is Earth.


No, century check. For Christians, it's the 21st, not the 12th.
2.29.2008 1:25pm
ejo:
now the posters who wouldn't know a christian if one launched a jihad against them are channelling jesus and letting us all know what he would think of "jesus fish" on cars. no showing off your faith? jesus preached his faith-wouldn't that count? the same poster seems to somehow conflate what is going on in the Islamic world as some sort of battle between christianity and Islam. it seems apparent that it is actually between Islam and everyone else.
2.29.2008 1:48pm
callao (mail):
OMG! Now they're erecting Muslim monuments at Arlington National Cemetery!

Link

Link

Link

Something for the haters to think about.
2.29.2008 2:21pm
Ping Pong (mail):

Something for the haters to think about.



Why? Its so much easier to point out the mote in their brothers' eye than see the beam in their own.
2.29.2008 2:31pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
markm: that's what I acknowledged in the 3rd paragraph of my 11:33am post.

ejo: Jesus was the teacher, he's not held to the same standards as his students.

I agree that currently it is a battle between Islam and everyone else. I was merely pointing out that lots of Americans responded to the faith-based terrorism on 9/11 by renewing or increasing their own faith, church attendance went up and people were seeing crosses in the WTC rubble. Fighting faith with faith is fighting stupidity with stupidity, and I don't want to get caught in the crossfire.
2.29.2008 2:34pm
ejo:
actually, he had apostles as well who he sent out to preach. is it your expert theological opinion that those 12 (11) pretty much end the chain in terms of public teaching of the christian faith? would jesus have to sign a certificate to allow modern christians to publicly profess their beliefs? fighting faith with faith is stupidity-it seems you would advocate fighting faith with nothing, which would probably also be kind of stupid, don't you think?

as to the mote/beam proverb, nothing in it indicates you should obsess over the mote in your own eye while ignoring the beams in the eyes of others. the speed of apologists bringing up christian history of 1000 years ago while ignoring actual modern practices of Islam more closely resembles that than the proverb you tried to use.
2.29.2008 2:52pm
pete (mail) (www):

Pete, I don't think it gets the point across at all, it's just ramblings about sin and death.


Its not ramblings. It is a clear statement that sinning leads to death and that if you have been baptized into Christ, then you should no longer sin. Christianity is not "fire insurance" as Bart Simpson once described it.

What you are describing is a charicture of Christianity. I suspect you are just arguing it to get a angry reaction out of the Christians who might read it.

I have never known any active Christian to seriously argue that it is ok to sin because you can just get forgiven for it later. Quite the contrary, in fact most realize that their sin affects both them and the people around them in bad ways and make a real effort to be better people. I have known murderers, gang members, drug addicts, etc. who were able to make radical changes in their lives and who gave up their sinful ways after becoming Christians. That is actually more of a common experience than what you describe.

As for the raped child child example, yes they should forgive because not forgiving will eat them up over the long run and gives the rapist more power. My wife used to work for a secular clinic that treated sexually abused children and they always tried to make forgiveness part of the long term counseling process. This was not easy, but the victim of great sin can often be helped by forgiveness. You might want to try reading someone like Martin Luther King or Philip Yancey for more on this.
2.29.2008 6:01pm
Ex-Catholic:
Pete, Richard Aubrey, ejo, etc: I'm not Prof S., but I got confirmed at a church, St. Francis de Sales in Atlanta, where there were numerous congregants such as he describes.

Would objection to the muezzin's call be an appropriate nuissance complaint? I don't think you could get the place shut down, but would getting an injunction against the volume going over a certain level be ok?
2.29.2008 6:06pm
brent (mail):
No argument that, in general, Islam is crazier than Christianity at the moment...
However, I can find all the same justifications for violence that you attribute to the Koran in the Bible. I know that the Old Testament is less important than the new, but we don't hear people accusing Judaism of being an inherently evil religion, even though the Old Testament and the Koran are equally bloody minded.
2.29.2008 8:04pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
I don't see why incitement to genocide should be handled more lightly than a specific incitement to kill an individual. Nor do I see why calling all Jews greedy should be less of a defamation than calling a single Jew greedy. Seems like a bigger crime to me, and certainly on a more shaky footing seeing as how it is a gross overgeneralization.
2.29.2008 8:04pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't see why incitement to genocide should be handled more lightly than a specific incitement to kill an individual.
It isn't. Who told you that it was? What's 'handled more lightly' is mere advocacy vs. incitement to imminent lawless action.

Nor do I see why calling all Jews greedy should be less of a defamation than calling a single Jew greedy. Seems like a bigger crime to me, and certainly on a more shaky footing seeing as how it is a gross overgeneralization.
And that's exactly why. "Seeing as how it is a gross overgeneralization," it doesn't damage anybody's reputation the way defaming a single individual does.
2.29.2008 8:33pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"And that's exactly why. "Seeing as how it is a gross overgeneralization," it doesn't damage anybody's reputation the way defaming a single individual does."

Not if a certain population truly believes that it is Allah doing the defaming. I think it carries more weight in the case. Further evidence that it carries more weight is if there is a history of acting on such defamation. If the Qur'an says to discriminate against Jews and there has been discrimination on that basis then the claim is empircally causing damage in a way that some joe blow down the street saying all americans are morons doesn't.
2.29.2008 11:04pm
Prof. S. (mail):
I wasn't being serious people. It was a comment about the absurdity of the previous point.

The notion that everyone at XYZ religion thins a certain way is simply absurd.

And I am serious that you hear a lot of this in churches. I guarantee you that if you went to certain rural areas (such as the area I grew up), you'd find all sorts of this talk going on. As the pastor of my church said (yes, to those of you who overreacted, I go to a Christian church), there is a large number of people who are making political decisions to try to bring about Revelation - using it to justify acts in the Middle East.

But, back to the broader point, just because you claim to hear some people say something in a handful of mosques is not grounds to ban them all. Just like the fact that you hear such words said by Christians against Muslims is no grounds to ban churches.

Seriously people, read in context instead of in an effort to irrationally lash out about something.
3.1.2008 1:13am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
The way I see it if you belong to some one eyed imams mosque and he's preaching hate and killing in his sermons and then some member of the church act on those commandments from Allah then you as a member of the church are in part responsible. Sure it's not as serious an involvement as the ones doing the act but you are still in part responsible. I think your responsibility is less than the imams also, since he was directly advocating it. However as the member of the religious organization you are supporting him as your mouthpiece.

It's like contributing to an organization where the leader is advocating bankrobbing, participating in meetings where which banks should be robbed are discussed, financially supporting such generalized discussions, and then when some of the other members of the organization follow through on what was advocated and actually plan and execute on such advocacy throwing up your hands and claiming innocence in the consipiracy.

Well I don't see you as so innocent at that point. I don't see how it's different when a religion does this and bunch of white supremacists. What's the difference? That it's been going on for a thousand years?

Now it's perfectly possible to have another Muslim organization that says "He the Qur'an is our religious text but not everything in it is true, and specifically these parts A, B, C." and "Those parts are only applicable under these conditions X, Y, Z" but it's a very fine line to walk.

Once you say the Qur'an is infallible you are in fact implicitly calling for criminal activity since it advocates exactly that. Criminal in the sense of advocating rights violating activities such as forcing non-muslims to pay the jizya, murdering certain classes of non-muslims, discriminating against women and non-muslims int he courts and in the workplace.

So it seems to me that it should be legal to claim that the Qur'an is infallible. You can certainly believe it yourself but once you start claiming it publicly and especially to the incompetent such as children and the mentally ill then you are in fact endangering others, defaming them, and interferring in their free association with others.

When you make false charges against others you are indeed interfering with their free association, like if you claim falsely that a place of business like a theater is a dangerous firetrap when it isn't. That interferes with not only the theater owners right to associate with his customers, but the customers rights to associate with theater owner, the performers, and the other theater goers. It's all based on a fraud in this case.

Much like the fraud of screaming fire when there isn't one. Which also should not be allowed even if it would not cause a dangerous panic, even if there are only a couple people in the room.

Islam is itself a fraud and when it makes claims to authority based on the infallible nature of the Qur'an that further aggrevates the situation. So any claim that Jews are the greediest people of the earth, or that befriending non-muslims is bad, that non-muslims are filthy and the like are in fact an interference in the free association of those being brain washed with those who are not.

In fact the whole notion of not allowing criticism of Islam, and Mohammed, the idea of blasphemy is in fact a policy of producing what are essentially incompetents. It creates a whole class of people who are purposely kept ignorant, and when this is done to a child I think not only is it wrong but in fact borderline criminal even if we don't recognize it as such.

It's certainly criminal when we try to impose our desire to perpetrate the fraud onto others. Intimidating those who criticize Islam via law or vigilantee violence is in fact a violation of the rights of those non-believers.

So my view is that the law just doesn't have things correct now, and were it correct it would certainly be a much more hostile environment for intolerant religions like Islam. The only reason we are in the state that we are is because we started out with a bad state of affairs in the first place. It's as if we were in the process of throwing off slavery and didn't quite yet understand that all the trappings of slavery were wrong and not just the whipping of slaves.

... and yes the proper set of laws would impinge upon other religions, including some faith based (in the sense of irrational belief) secular religions like communism. Which is precisely why proper law will be hard to achieve. Most people are in the thrall of one form of irrationality or another.
3.1.2008 12:24pm
cerebus (mail):
Speaking from somewhere this is an even more emotive issue (UK), Eugene is of course right. The spread of radical Islam is a real possibility. Both these statements are true.
3.2.2008 1:36pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Once you say the Qur'an is infallible you are in fact implicitly calling for criminal activity since it advocates exactly that.
Again: advocating illegal activity is legal. It's constitutionally protected speech. The only exception is when it's directed to inciting imminent lawless action, and is likely to actually produce such action.
3.2.2008 8:16pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Ex. Some congregants will also be awaiting the perpetual motion machine. Prof S was referring to the preaching/doctrine.
Bullshit.

One fed law enforcement official said the thing that kept him up nights was the "lone wolf" terrorist. This was a term from the neo-nazis' playbook. The leadership says things like, who will rid me of that little priest, depending on some nutcase to decide that's a hell of an idea. But there's no criminal connection, so the leader skates.
It would appear that a good deal more of Muslim preaching in this country is something like that than the neo-nazis could ever generate.
So we either address it legally--difficult--or we don't. But if we don't address it legally, we can still be concerned about it. See the First Amendment. Being concerned is legal.
3.3.2008 9:32am