Saturday, August 11, 2012

That whole 1st amendment thing just ain't what it used to be (UPDATED)


(please scroll to bottom for update)

This past week, KT posted an article concerning what he thought was the thuggish behviour of one set of people towards another set of people because the first set thought the words and deed of the second set objectionable.

And beyond that, there was the point made regarding elected politicians who not only happened to agree with the first set of people, they were are willing to use their powers at the levers of governance to deny business opportunities to that second set of people.

There is a name for this sort of behaviour and politics that the article ably depicts (warning: singing involved... or else).

Commenters remarked that this was probably nothing more than a one-off, perhaps sensationalized by the press and the pols involved breaking no more laws than shameless self-promotion.

Sure thing.

Bible study leader Michael Salman is sitting in jail today after his home was raided earlier this week by more than a dozen Phoenix, Ariz. police officers and city officials. His offense? The city says people aren’t allowed to hold private Bible studies on their own property.

Salman was sentenced to 60 days in jail, three years probation and received a $12,180 fine for “the crime.” His wife Suzanne spoke with Fox and Friends this morning to express her shock and disbelief at the entire situation.

According to Suzanne, the city told her that her husband was essentially arrested because the Bible study was at a private house .. and that essentially, it’s a church. Since they weren’t zoned for church, they were told they were breaking the rules.

“It defies logic, honestly. I don’t understand … that something so small got so large like this,” Suzanne said. “People do it all over the United States all the time.”

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute believes the family is being discriminated against because of their faith. “The key is — the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion … the right to assemble and talk to each other wherever you want to be – in public or in your home,” he said. “The thing that I think is so shocking is that you might expect this in Iran or [some place] around the world … but happening in the United States, this is so shocking it’s beyond belief.”

Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hill said in a statement: “It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire, and that’s really all this comes down to.”

We have never in our life heard as cock-a-mamie an explanation as the one given by Hill. She should be relieved of her duties. Immediately.

Just last night we were at a backyard pool party hosted by one of our co-workers. It was a glorious affair: chicken skewers and carne asade on the grill, kids running around and playing in the pool, beer iced down in the cooler and couples holding hands and sitting in each other's laps and guess what? The absolute least of our concerns was how it was we were going to get out of that residence should a fire break out.

This is insane. Check that. Not insane rather a system of governance depicted in KT's post.

The it will never happen here receives a beat down in the face of what happened in Phoenix. An isolated incident? To hell with that - it happened to the Salman's so it happened to all of us.

We look forward to the Salman's lawyering up and owning half of Phoenix in the name of the first amendment.

We leave you with the money quote from Ezra Levant* who was aquitted of any wrong-doing by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for re-printing the Mohammed-as-terrorist images in his publication, the Western Standard:

Look at his rationale for acquitting me: because the Western Standard met Gundara’s home-made tests of reasonableness. We published the cartoons in “context”; we published letters that “criticized” them; and my favourite, the cartoons weren’t “simply stuck in the middle” of the magazine. Gundara must have thought for ten whole minutes to come up with that list of journalistic do’s and don’t’s. And – phew! – he likes me. He really likes me!

Sorry again, I don’t give a damn if he likes me. In fact, it rather creeps me out that a whole squad of teat-sucking bureaucrats spent 900 days inspecting me and the Western Standard. I positively want to offend them. In fact, that’s pretty much the only test of my freedom: can I do exactly what Gundara says I shouldn’t? I’m not interested in publishing recipes or sports scores. I’m interested in bothering the hell out of government.

(emphasis, ours)

* L'Affaire Levant was chronicled in these pages at the link above. Our collective sensibility in giving the Canadians the benefit of the doubt as being the sensible and practical folks in this hemisphere isn't holding up so well.

H/T: Dawn

(UPDATE #1):

It appears we may have been bamboozled. This happens about once a year where we are guilty of premature blogging.

We stand by Mr. Salman's 1st amendment rights but there are other issues at play here that we did not vet before we went all fever swamp.

Thanks to KT for providing us that link in the comment section that shed a different light on the situation.

P.S. Ezra Levant still kicks ass.


K T Cat said...

Thanks for the link! While the story is alarming, I'm wondering if it was a zoning issue and we're getting jobbed on this story.

Dean said...

Premature blogging. Will update later. Thanks for that link.

K T Cat said...

Dean, I wasn't quite sure about the affair. It seemed like too big of a stretch from where we are right now and frankly, I can't see it ever happening at all. It sounded to me like the guy kept having 60 people over to his house and clogging up the street with parked cars until his neighbors called the cops on him.