It was quite an eventful day in Washington today. Pamela Geller has a full report:
Today was a dark day in American history, but you’d never know because the media is complicit in this sharia enforcement. I had a front-row seat to witness the rape of the First Amendment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Rosemary Collyer, presiding. Robert Spencer and I went down to Washington as defenders of America’s most fundamental and unalienable right. And in return, we had the sad misfortune of watching a U.S. District Court Judge discard, denigrate, downplay and dismiss our most basic law of the land: the freedom of speech.
The Judge went out of her way to validate and substantiate the ridiculous premise of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), that the AFDI pro-freedom ad would endanger passengers on the D.C. subways and thus must not be posted, or at least delayed until some (fanciful) time when the jihad threat would subside. It was painful to watch Judge Collyer almost physically wrestling with the First Amendment, trying to tackle it and pin it to the floor. But the First Amendment was much too wily for the wrongheaded, utterly subjective, and clueless judge.
Philip Staub, the lawyer for WMATA, invoked the international Muslim riots that have been blamed (falsely) on the Muhammad video, and said the WMATA had received an email threatening them if they posted our ad. He was, in other words, counseling submission to violent Muslim intimidation, and the curtailing of the freedom of speech to appease savages. He made the laughable argument that if the ad ran after November 1, the threat would have subsided by then, and would be well — as if the jihad terror threat would completely die down by then. Judge Collyer then asked him if the ads could be posted sooner if they were moved away from the train platforms, so that passengers would be less likely to get caught up in fights or terrorist attacks over them. He seemed open to that idea.
The whole issue about moving the ads represented the judge”s attempt to find a way to accommodate the WMATA”s fearmongering argument that the ad would endanger passengers. And is that now the American response to threats of violence from a fascist ideology ““ to accede and submit to that very same fascist ideology? The judge was an embarrassment to every proud American who understands what is at stake. I can”t speak for our lawyer, Robert Muise, but his frustration was palpable.
Staub also argued that the ad constituted fighting words, but here even Judge Collyer couldn”t go along with what he was saying, although she struggled mightily to do so. She gently pointed out to Staub, whom she treated with kid gloves and like a special-needs child the whole afternoon, leading him by the hand to the disbelief of the open court (in sharp contradistinction to her frequent interruptions and contradictions of Robert Muise ““ stop making sense!), that for the ad to constitute fighting words, there had to be an imminent threat of violence. But the ads have run without incident in San Francisco and New York ““ they were vandalized in New York in an attempt to shut down free speech, but there was no violence aside from Muslim Brotherhood poster girl Mona Eltahawy”s pink spray can) ““ and so it was impossible for Staub or Collyer to sustain the idea that they constituted an imminent threat to the safety of the passengers. But Collyer certainly tried, coaching and coaxing Staub, and at one point saying to him, “The imminence issue is hard for me to get to. Just trying to tell you where I am going.” She never gave Muise any such hints.
Collyer further coached Staub by saying that she assumed ““ assumed! ““ that he was arguing (since he was so inept at actually doing so, the point wasn”t clear) that the government”s “compelling interest” in refusing or delaying these ads was concern for the safety of the passengers. She then said, with obvious reluctance, that against that concern there had to be balanced “the very broadly read First Amendment,” and asked him how he thought this could be done.
Staub answered that the safety of the passengers could be balanced against the First Amendment by delaying the ads. He said that he thought things would cool down in Africa, Asia and the Middle East by November 1, and that the ads could run then. Remember, guys, we”re talking about four little ads here, and the WMATA is talking about unrest on two continents. That”s how paralyzed with fear of savages the U.S. Government has become.
Then our lawyer, Robert Muise, called for an immediate injunction overruling WMATA”s delay and ordering that the ads run immediately. He cited ample legal precedent to show that it was an established point of law that the delay of a citizen”s freedom of speech constituted irreparable harm.
But then Judge Collyer broke in with her most disquieting, most un-American argument of all. She said that while Muise was arguing that the ad was core political speech, and thus the most protected category of speech of all, Collyer said, “I see hate speech. When you defend this ad as core political speech, I have a problem with that.” Muise pointed out that U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer in New York had ruled that the very same ad was core political speech, Collyer said peremptorily that she disagreed with Judge Engelmayer, and rudely cut Muise off when he tried to explain that the ad was not hate speech and that the main part of it — “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man” — was adapted from the work of Ayn Rand. Collyer snapped defensively that she knew who Ayn Rand was and still thought the ad was hate speech, constituting a hateful message.
The ad is not hate speech, it’s love speech. It’s love of life speech. The ad speaks to the defense of freedom and individual rights for all. There’s nothing hateful about it. 9/11 was hate. 3/11 in Madrid was hate. 7/7 in London was hate. The Fort Hood jihadi was hate. The Christmas balls bomber was hate. The Fort Dix Six was hate. Pushing back against such hate is not hate. This poor woman hasn’t a clue as to the jihadic doctrine that relentlessly seeks to violently impose Islamic law and pursues jihad against non-Muslims. Judge Collyer is on her own personal jihad to defend and sanction the very dull knife that will be employed to cut her own head off.
In the midst of this nonsense, Muise kept acting like the one kid in the sixth grade classroom who was trying to keep his classmates from running wild in front of the hapless substitute teacher: he kept trying to remind Collyer (and Staub) of basic points of American law. He reminded Collyer that there is no law against “hate speech” in America, so that even if she did think the ad was “hate,” that should have no bearing on her ruling. Speech is only considered inciteful, he said, if the speech itself is calling for the lawless, violent action. WMATA’s argument about the threat this video posed to the safety of the passengers, he pointed out, rested entirely on riots that took place not in the U.S. but in Muslim countries, and not because of this ad, but (supposedly) because of the Muhammad video. The video and the ad, he said, did not have remotely the same content. There was one email that the WMATA received that apparently contained threats related to this ad, he said, but he explained that we cannot allow those who threaten violence to restrict our First Amendment rights, and cannot have the government acquiesce in the restriction of those rights in response to threats.
Collyer seemed to grasp none of this, and went on to say contemptuously to Muise, “No threat? Where have you been?” But in trying to show her awareness of the jihad threat she only demonstrated how little she knows about it, naming the recent riots and the London attack of 2005 (“admittedly, that was a few years ago”) as if that was all there was. She said that it was not reasonable to think that in light of the worldwide riots over the Muhammad video that WMATA was not right to be concerned about the safety of its passengers if this ad went up.
In response to that, Muise pointed out that DHS had issued guidelines for precautions public agencies can and should be taking, and that to stand down from saying things that might offend the rioters would be giving the heckler’s veto the sanction of American law, and saying that in that case anyone could threaten violence to silence someone whose speech he disliked. Collyer showed her reflexive willingness to submit and acquiesce to savagery when Muise said that to postpone or cancel the ads would be to validate the threat of that one emailer and encourage people to make more such threats. He said that this emailer could even rightly be called a “savage,” whereupon Collyer said, “He could be standing behind you” — as if that should change what Muise would be saying about him, and implying that Muise should curb his speech to appease the violent.
Muise further reminded her that the First Amendment was put into place precisely so as to protect speech that some might find offensive. He also completely torpedoed the idea that the ad is hate speech when Collyer asked him to summarize in his own words what he thought it meant, and he patiently explained that it was calling for support for Israel against those who commit savage attacks against innocent civilians in the name of jihad. Collyer then demonstrated even more vividly that she has no idea what the jihad is and what it’s all about, when she complained that our ad wrongly applied the concept of jihad to what she termed a “long-standing territorial dispute” between Israelis and Palestinians — one that she obviously thinks has nothing to do with jihad.
Finally, Collyer explained that she was going to make no ruling today. This poor, silly woman said she needed to give the case more thought. She is clearly going to take some time to try to figure out a way to circumvent the First Amendment and allow WMATA to kowtow to violent intimidation.
And worst of all? She’s a Bush appointee. As we pursue free speech cases around the country, I have come to dread Bush appointees: they always side with the government, no matter what, even against (as Collyer probably will in this case) the Constitution. Clinton and Obama appointees, meanwhile, while they’re far to the left, often will see the merits of a case against the establishment elite in a way that the Bush judges don’t. This is no endorsement of Obama by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just an indication of just how hard times have become for the rule of law and above all for the First Amendment in the United States.
Free speech is in its death throes. Clearly, Collyer is trying to establish a precedent that will allow for the criminalizing of “hate speech” — which will mean any speech the political elites want to silence. It is indeed a very dark day.