By Mark Taylor

Should Terry Jones be barred from Dearborn?

By Mark Taylor


How far does one’s First Amendment rights stretch in the United States?

If a person’s public demonstrations in Florida cause death in Afghanistan should he be barred from Dearborn?

That’s the question facing a judge in Wayne County Michigan today, after prosecutors filed a motion to bar Pastor Terry Jones from demonstrating outside a Dearborn Islamic center on Good Friday.

Dearborn is a suburb of Detroit, once best known for being the home of Ford Motor Company World Headquarters and the sprawling Ford Rouge Assembly Plant. But it’s now probably better recognized as a community with a substantial Arab population.

Jones is the controversial church pastor who burned a Koran in Florida, then announced it on his website. When word about it spread in Afghanistan, enraged Muslims attacked UN offices, killing 11 people in protest. Even though the UN had nothing at all to do with what Jones did, it was the closest place they could think of where they could find westerners to punish for the Koran burning.

Now Jones wants to take his mission against Islam on the road to Dearborn, where he intends to protest in front of the Islamic center. The prosecutors want an injunction to prevent him from doing so, on the grounds that he will likely spark a riot there.

The Koran burning was, of course, distasteful and irresponsible, given that the U.S. government implored him to not do it because it feared violent responses by some who were offended. Responses that the government told him could put Americans and others in danger.

The lesson was clearly not learned by Jones, who now apparently wants even more fame, or perhaps infamy, by protesting in Dearborn.

While the Koran burning was distasteful, it was clearly protect under the Constitution. So is Jones’ right to protest outside a mosque in Dearborn.

If he is precluded from exercising his First Amendment rights, then who will be next? Nazis who want to march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood?

That’s not just an academic question. It actually was once raised.

In 1977, in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, then a community heavily populated with Holocaust survivors, a neo-Nazi group announced a march. When the village government sued to prevent the march, the ACLU stepped in and filed a counter-motion claiming that to enjoin the Nazis from marching would be a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The ACLU prevailed in court, but in the end, the Nazis never marched in Skokie.

The thought wannabe Nazis goose-stepping through the neighborhood of people who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust notwithstanding, the court made the right decision. They had the right, that they elected to not exercise, to do just that.

Similar emotions may be evoked if Jones decides to visit Dearborn. But he too, has First Amendment rights.

If we muzzle Nazis and we muzzle Jones, who knows who may be next to be silenced. Maybe Muslims. Maybe Jews.

Gary Baumgarten is editor of The Jewish Reporter.

12 thoughts on “Should Terry Jones be barred from Dearborn?”

  1. The sad thing about Terry Jones is that he feels that his rights are more important than the lives of individuals.
    I suppose you could argue that the rights of the many are supreme over the rights of the the few, however, what utterly nauseates me is that this man who purports to be a man of God holds human life so cheap and man made laws more important.

    1. Gary, I remmber when the Nazis were wanting t march thru Skokie. I cant believe that Terry Jones would want to confront the Islamic center in Dearborn. However when the USA awakens to the Reality of Islam there will be many stands taken. Islam wishes to control all of e west and hass stated this. Barbar Erb

    2. I am making the trip to Dearborn to protest with him! I suppose they can deny First amendment rights whenever it’s deemed to scary?? Hell no, I am so tired of the double standard given to islam. Mr. Jones is not responsible for the violence that comes from peaceful protest! If they let him protest at military funerals, which I am against! Why would they stop him from protesting the muzzies?? Because the will get violent…. It’s time to stop bowing to their sharia and stand up strong like Americans should!!
      See you Friday Pastor Jones!!

  2. I recall when many Jews left the ACLU for defending the Constitution when the Amer. Nazi Party wanted a permit to march at Skokie in the late ’70s.

    While I resect their decision, and while, of course, the Nazis did not march there in the then then-home to many Holocaust survivors, the ACLU was right to try to get the permit honored. The Constutution is, frankly, more important than even justifiably deeply offended sensibilities, and in pretty much every case.

    If this crude man, this pastor of fewer than fifty like-minded crude prople, wants to visit Dearborn for somewhat analogous reasons, his right to do that peacefully must be defended no matter how uch of a nast fool he is (and he is).

  3. Hi Gary and thx for this article , well the crazy man see all people arround him crazy and he is right hahaha soo in turn i see the american law stil have some problem in my point of view this man should be life sentence he spread haterd and calling the afganistani people to excute and behead and kill the westren forgin Un workers it is very clea his hands full with inocent people blood he must be in jail

  4. I really don’t agree the way terry Jones try to tell the none Moslem what Islam is he need more work on educating the none Moslem radar than burning the quran Moslem showed them reaction on this kind of matter in past and he was not care if he pout people life in danger on the other hand staying quite and not saying about what Islam is all about we may have country like Islamic country one day and no one will be free

  5. Many Jews fled the ACLU in the late ’70s when the organisation defended the Constitution over the (justifiably offended) sensibilities of the many Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois. The thugs ended u marching elsewhere despite the fact that the permit was ultimately granted.

    The ACLU was right to defend the First Amendment; as precious as Survivors sensibilities are, the Constitution’s protections are moreso and more enduring and more ractical, in the end.

    This crude pastor of a flock of fifty Floridians may go to Dearborn peacefully and say what he likes. Frankly, he was given far too much attention at the outset. He’ll get more bc the media and the political world gave him a platform far broader and far-reaching than he’d given himself.

    I wish him only failure.

    Our Constitution is far more important than he is and moreso than the feelings of those he hates.

  6. Allowing Terry Jones in Dearborn is the same as justifying someone in a theater hollering fire. We have laws preventing HATE speeches and that is exactly what Terry Jones is spreading. Furthermore, I wonder if this alleged church meets the requirements of the IRS to be a Tax-Exempt Church as apposed to a political movement. One of the most wonderful things about America is it’s separation of Church and State. The money trail needs to be followed to see who is really benefiting from the conduct of Terry Jones’ church.

Leave a Reply