Besides a few submissions, I got some angry e-mails about my call to desecrate a Quran. Color me shocked…
One in particular caught my attention. While I haven’t gotten any violent rebuffs, I did get one person threatening legal action. I consulted a friend of mine who’s a lawyer for a clarification, and he assured me that this person who claims they can sue me doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
In the interest of protecting this dolt’s privacy (and to avoid his litigious ire), I will paraphrase what he wrote to me. In a sense, he said my actions amounted to the legal definition of “fighting words,” which is a well understood limitation on free speech.
Now, I could have looked this up myself and seen that there was no basis in this claim, but I’m one to seek the opinion of an expert before I try to dabble in a field as esoteric as law.
Basically, I was told that if I did this 60 years ago, the guy might have a case. Luckily case after case that has gone before high courts (including one recently before the Supreme Court) have held up actions such as burning a cross or wearing shirts saying “Fuck the Draft.” Most recently, Westboro Baptist Church was before the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that they do have the right to hold up signs saying things like “God Hates Fags.”
In most cases, the primary violators who are convicted of “fighting words” are individuals who publicly and repeatedly call for violence against an individual or a group. In other words, one would have to prove that the Quran is a person, since that is the target of my incitement. If I had said, “we should kill Muslim people,” or if I suggested people should vandalize a mosque, then I would have to be worried.
As defined by Street vs. New York in 1969, fighting words must present an actual threat of immediate violence, not merely offensive content. It was this case that overturned the conviction of a man arrested and found guilty of burning a flag. It does not cover the potential for a violent reaction taken by others who witness the offending material.
So keep those submissions coming. When I get a few more, I’ll be posting them. Note to possible contributors: I find it seriously offensive how many people have covered a Quran in bacon. What a waste of perfectly good bacon…