Today, [June 18] a federal judge denied our request for a TRO (temporary restraining order), which would have allowed Arabic Christian Perspective to continue to distribute their literature along the public sidewalks adjacent to a street occupied by the annual Arab International Festival.
The court reasoned that restrictions imposed by the City of Dearborn only on ACP were reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. We naturally disagree, inasmuch as no other citizen is ordered to restrict what he or she can say or hand to another person. This is content-based discrimination against a Christian group, whose mission is to peaceably bring the good news of salvation to people attending the Festival.
I am not a religious person, so I don’t care about the proselytizing one way or the other. However, free exercise of religion is obviously the proximate, unstated reason for this speech restriction. It isn’t about ninety people out of thousands attending causing a crowd control meltdown. The “crowd control” excuse is code for “we don’t want trouble.” If Dearborn had been more honest, I’d have more sympathy.
Think of it this way, if someone wants to pass out cartoons depicting Mohammed in sexual congress with his sub-teen “bride,” or as a dog sodomizing a praying Muslim – though the latter’s been done already by Danish Imams – I’d say that’s OK too. I would listen to an objection regarding a threat to public order in such a case, though.
IAC, I cannot see how that would apply in advance to any religious debate that might arise in the actual case. Admittedly, that would be embarrassing for Dearborn officials because they allowed a festival where they retrospectively believe they cannot maintain order because of the religious intolerance of the festival organizers/attendees. That is not the fault of the ACP.
Where are the defenders of the Bill of Rights? For example, the last positive thing I can recall having come out of the ACLU was their defense of the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois in 1981. They won then, where are they this time?