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SENTRY JOURNAL » 1st amendment, ed morrissey, flag burning, george stephanopoulos, hotair, koran, steven breyer » The Faulty Logic of Justice Breyer

The Faulty Logic of Justice Breyer

by RightHandMan

Ed Morrissey recently put up a post at detailing a few comments Justice Breyer made on the Koran burning threat. His comments were perhaps as misguided as the question that was asked:

“When you think about the internet and when you think about the possibility that, you know, a pastor in Florida with a flock of 30, can threaten to burn the Koran and that leads to riots and killings in Afghanistan, does that pose a challenge to the First Amendment, to how you interpret it? Does it change the nature of what we can allow and protect?” – George Stephanopoulos.

The question itself is absurd. First, who has been killed because of this? The only riot that I’ve heard of in Afghanistan was on September 11th and it was peaceful. Even if the event did cost lives due to rioting, what does that have to do with our 1st Amendment rights? Is a man’s actions in Florida the culprit of violence?
Surely Justice Breyer will settle this issue….right? He told Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America that he wasn’t prepared to conclude – in the internet age – the 1st Amendment condones Koran burning.
“Holmes said it doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Breyer told me. “Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?”
This is absolute nonsense. There is a major difference between shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and burning a Koran in America. The most obvious is that the intent of an individual shouting fire in a theater, that we presume isn’t on fire, is malicious and isn’t a form of expression. When a person shouts fire in this setting it isn’t because they want to express their views, but because they want to hurt people. Second, it doesn’t give anyone a chance to do anything but respond in panic – which is why the metaphor includes the word “crowded”. If someone cries ‘fire’ in a non-crowded theater there is no problem because people are given a chance to respond without injury.
When some idiot in Florida decides he wants to burn Korans he is expressing himself. He is saying he dislikes the Koran. While people may end up revolting and harming others, it is not his fault, he gave them an opportunity to make that choice – and the choice to harm someone is THEIRS.
The faulty logic of Justice Breyer puts the power of free speech in the hands of the violent. Suddenly, if someone hears or sees some kind of speech displayed that they don’t like all they have to do is start harming people in order to have that kind of speech silenced. Ironically, this is the goal of Islamic extremists abroad. Draw a cartoon with Mohammad – violence. Create policies that are pro-Israel – violence. Come out against the Ground Zero Mosque – threats of violence. This is the goal and tact of terrorism; to limit any speech that is contrary to the ideology of the terrorists via violence. What is frightening is that one of our justices seems to be in their corner. What cowardice!
As Ed said on Hotair, Breyer’s comments would put the government in charge of judging the qualitative value of all speech. He asks, “Would speech urging an invasion of Pakistan be therefore criminalized, too? After all, it might cause Pakistanis somewhere to riot and people to die, even if the argument is largely discredited in contemporary American politics.”
He goes on to point out that in Texas v Johnson and US v Eichman, the U.S. has already ruled that free speech trumps concerns about public safety in regards to flag burning. Surely Breyer doesn’t think this law would be overturned. I agree with Mr. Morrissey, that Breyer is putting the Koran in a different class than the flag. If that is the case, Mr. Breyer is going to be a big hero in the bin Laden house (cave).

Filed under: 1st amendment, ed morrissey, flag burning, george stephanopoulos, hotair, koran, steven breyer

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  • Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    …putting the koran before OUR flag.