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Gov't Intimidation As An Attack On The First Amendment: Kris Ann Hall

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Kris Ann Hall

Muslim leaders in TN, sponsored by the US Attorney’s office (attorney Bill Killian) and the FBI (agent Kenneth Moore) are going to hold propaganda meeting to try to convince people that they can be prosecuted under the Civil Rights Act of 1968 for speaking out against Islamic Terrorism and Shari’ah Law. 

“Killian and Moore will provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.”

“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told The News Monday. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”

Killian then referred to a post on Facebook that showed a picture of a man pointing a double-barreled shotgun at a camera lens with the caption saying, “How to Wink at a Muslim.”  Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction.

THIS IS A LIE with the sole purpose to put fear in people’s mind and chill the very freedom of expression that the First Amendment embodies.

WE DO have the right to free speech and the right to peaceably assemble.  Our Constitution expresses the fundamental principle that rights to speech and assembly are held by the people and the government must protect these rights, not limit them.  The First Amendment was NOT established to protect popular or politically correct speech.  To the contrary, the First Amendment was established to protect offensive and unpopular speech. The Supreme Court of the United States memorably stated in Street v. New York, 394 U.S. 576, 592 (1969) “[i]t is firmly settled that . . . the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.”

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414 (1989), The Supreme Court reiterated this understanding:

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

The fundamental principle that offensive speech must be protected is rooted in the understanding that we must allow a “free market place of ideas” and that freedom of speech “reflects a ‘profound national commitment’ to the principle” and “‘debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.’”  The Supreme Court has “consistently commented on the central importance of protecting speech on public issues.” (Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 318 (1988))

To insinuate that when people speak out about public issues, even when opposing religious issues, is a violation of someone’s civil rights is absurd.  This would be to pit the First Amendment against itself and would cause the implosion of the very essence of who these United States really are!

The Supreme Court has long recognized this to be true.  The Supreme Court in Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., proclaimed that a citizen’s right to speak on matters of public concern “‘is more than self-expression; it is the essence of self-government.’”

This Court even expresses the understanding that criticizing a religion is a matter of public concern, and not a “purely private” matter.  In Dun & Bradstreet, the Court recognizes the criticism of Catholicism to be protected by the First Amendment.

“[S]peech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.” (Dun & Bradstreet). This is so even if the speech may be offensive to listeners. “‘Indeed, if it is the speaker’s opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection.’” (Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell)

To allow the government to shut down speech because someone might be offended is allowing the audience to control the message and that is what we call a “heckler’s veto.”  The Supreme Court has said time and time again that to allow the government to restrict speech due to an anticipated disorderly or violent reaction of the audience is fundamentally unconstitutional.  Every attorney that goes through any law school in America is taught this their very first year of law school. (Startzell v. City of Philadelphia, 307 U.S. 496, 515 (1939), Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949), Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 504 U.S. 123 (1992), just to name a few)

If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.   The following are twelve Supreme Court cases, beginning in 1939, that exemplify these principles: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S., at 55 -56; City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 804 (1984); Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 65 , 72 (1983); Carey v. Brown, 447 U.S. 455, 462 -463 (1980); FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S., at 745 -746; Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc., 427 U.S. 50, 63 -65, 67-68 (1976) (plurality opinion); Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 16 -17 (1976); Grayned v. Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 115 (1972); Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972); Bachellar v. Maryland, 397 U.S. 564, 567 (1970); O’Brien, 391 U.S., at 382 ; Brown v. Louisiana, 383 U.S., at 142 -143 (1966); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S., at 368 -369 (1931).

Neither the First Amendment nor the Civil Rights Act permit the government to limit speech.  They certainly DO NOT authorize the prosecution of citizens for expressions of this protected speech.  To have a US Attorney sit before the people of TN and insinuate otherwise should be regarded as malpractice.  For a representative of the Department of Justice, via the FBI, to participate in this attempt to chill the speech of our citizens should be a crime of the highest degree and alarm all who love this country.

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