“If you allow governments to censor one kind of speech, you open the door to censorship of all kinds of speech.” Indeed. It is good to see the ACLU on the right side of these issues for once. “N.J. ACLU to sue NJ Transit for firing employee who burned Koran on 9/11 anniversary,” from NJ.com, November 4:
TRENTON — On the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Derek Fenton stole headlines by burning pages from the Koran in Lower Manhattan to protest a planned Islamic community center there. Two days later, he lost his job at New Jersey Transit for breaching the agency’s code of ethics.
Now the American Civil Liberties Union says Fenton should get his job back. The group will file a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court saying Fenton was unconstitutionally fired for exercising his free speech rights.
“If you allow governments to censor one kind of speech, you open the door to censorship of all kinds of speech,” said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU in New Jersey. “Our individual right to free speech depends on everybody having it.”
A spokeswoman for NJ Transit declined to comment today. When Fenton was fired, the agency released a statement saying it had “concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee and therefore was dismissed.”…
The ACLU said his actions constitute free speech.
“Fenton has the right, protected under the First Amendment to the federal constitution, to engage as a citizen in expressive activity about matters of public interest, including matters related to the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero,” the lawsuit said. “When he burned pages of the Koran on September 11, 2010, as a protest against the center, Fenton was exercising that right.”
Fenton, an 11-year employee, was an assistant consist coordinator, responsible for ensuring enough cars were available to put a train into service. He was removed from his job Sept. 13, according to the lawsuit, which seeks back pay and punitive damages. Frank Corrado, a lawyer working on the case, said attempts to get Fenton’s job back were unsuccessful….
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, said in September the governor supported NJ Transit’s decision to fire Fenton. He declined comment today….
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also said Fenton should have kept his job.
“If he did not in any way associate himself with the employer while he carried out this act, we would not support his firing, even though obviously we would object strenuously to his actions,” spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. “We’re strong supporters of the First Amendment.”…
I see that Honest Ibe is still selling his bridges.