Justice Breyer: No right to burn Korans in First Amendment?

posted at 12:55 pm on September 14, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

I’m not sure which is more unsettling — the fact that a Supreme Court justice can get the First Amendment so wrong, or that it is so unclear that George Stephanopoulos thought to ask the question.  Until now, I perhaps naïvely thought that everyone understood that the provocateurial pastor in Florida had the right to burn Korans, or any other book he legitimately owned, but that it was a really bad idea for many reasons, most of which Allahpundit argued in his excellent posts on the subject.  Silly me:

Last week we saw a Florida Pastor – with 30 members in his church – threaten to burn Korans which lead to riots and killings in Afghanistan. We also saw Democrats and Republicans alike assume that Pastor Jones had a Constitutional right to burn those Korans.  But Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer told me on “GMA” that he’s not prepared to conclude that — in the internet age — the First 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?” …

“It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.  That’s the virtue of cases,” Breyer told me. “And not just cases. Cases produce briefs, briefs produce thought. Arguments are made. The judges sit back and think. And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason.  It isn’t a fake.”

Hopefully, they put more thought into it than Justice Breyer does in this argument.  The “fire in a crowded theater” standard is intended to limit government intrusion on free speech, not enable an expansion of it.  It means that only when speech that will directly and immediately result in a threat to human life in the proximate setting can the government criminalize it — and it has to contain the element of malicious falsehood as well.  After all, no one will prosecute a person who yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater when it’s really on fire, or when the person yelling honestly believes it to be so.

Otherwise, Breyer’s argument would put government in charge of judging the qualitative value of all speech.  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.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court has already ruled on burnings as free speech.  In both Texas v Johnson and US v Eichman, the court ruled that free speech trumped any offense and/or concerns about public safety raised by burning the American flag.  In Johnson, the court spoke directly to this issue:

The State’s position … amounts to a claim that an audience that takes serious offense at particular expression is necessarily likely to disturb the peace and that the expression may be prohibited on this basis. Our precedents do not countenance such a presumption. On the contrary, they recognize that a principal “function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or … even stirs people to anger.”

Now, perhaps Breyer foresees a reversal of Johnson and Eichman, but that doesn’t appear to be where he’s leading.  Instead, Breyer seems to want to put the Koran in a separate class for purposes of protest, a dangerous direction that flies in the other First Amendment restriction, the establishment clause regarding religion.

Put simply, Breyer couldn’t have possibly been more wrong in this answer, and one has to wonder just what kind of standard Breyer will apply to future cases of free speech.


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So tell us activist judge….how many people do Americans have to kill to make burning the American flag like “yelling fire in a theater”.

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Baxter Greene: Breyer,or,ahem,Kagan(I jest):)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Breyer is apparently thinking that if someone burns an American flag (or even a Bible), then somebody might get mad & punch the burner in the nose. However, if someone burns a koran, then hoards of insane Muslims will riot and blow up buildings. Thus, as someone pointed out above, he is saying we should reward bad behavior. Sharia indeed.

KS Rex on September 14, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Judge Breyer seems to be approving of the Hecklers’ Veto. That hecklers and insurrectionists have the right and ability to limit speech they disagree with. Why this only goes in the direction of islam remains a mystery. If this doctrine gets approved then it will invite extreme acts from other religionists who will seek to get on the same exempt list as Breyer’s islamists. That is not a scenario for the ordered liberty enshrined by the constitution but an invitation to anarchy.

eaglewingz08 on September 14, 2010 at 1:35 PM

So, by his definition, nothing that offends the Religion of Perpetual Offense is covered by the First Amendment, because every time you offend them they start killing people.

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

kowtowing to the enemy once again….sharia law on the way?

cmsinaz on September 14, 2010 at 1:17 PM

cmsinaz: Nightmarish!:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Breyer has historical precedent…

This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it… When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin… Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

;)

mankai on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Breyer dissented in the Court’s 5-4 decision overturning the Child Online Protection Act, a federal law intended to protect minors from internet pornography. I don’t know, but perhaps Breyer also disagrees with the decision in Texas v Johnson, another 5-4 decision that overturned state laws against desecrating the American flag. Perhaps Breyer believes that the Court has gone too far in declaring dirty pictures and other acts of desecration to be protected speech.

Yes, I know that setting a flag on fire is intended to be a political statement, and that burning somebody else’s scripture is intended to make a religious statement. I just don’t see the contitutionally protected right to use matches to make statements.

Tres Angelas on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason.

F.U.B.A.R.

lionheart on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

“It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully. That’s the virtue of cases,” Breyer told me. “And not just cases. Cases produce briefs, briefs produce thought. Arguments are made. The judges sit back and think. And most importantly, when they decide, they have to write an opinion, and that opinion has to be based on reason. It isn’t a fake.”

Oh.

So….

why is abortion legal again? Roe v. Wade + Doe v. Bolton = nothing but one of the biggest (and certainly the most deadly) legal a**pulls of the 20th century.

inviolet on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

The main problem, for me, with his comments is that he’s extending the “crowded theater” to include the entire world. That is, if radical Muslims in Afghanistan or Iran or Pakistan threaten violence, that those threats should be considered when the Court decides if there’s a constitutional right to burn a Koran (or anything else for that matter).

That can’t be so.

We’re all familiar with the concept of a “heckler’s veto”. This seems to be promoting the concept of a “worldwide extremist veto.”

No.

SteveMG on September 14, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Yeah…

Just because no one’s said it yet, I’d like to point out that he was making an analogy in response to a spontaneous, hypothetical question. He never expressed his own opinion on the issue. You guys are at least dimly aware of this considering you keep saying “he seems to believe…” rather than just saying “he believes”.

Alrighty then, carry on.

crr6 on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Wait, i am so confused.

So the fake Newsweek front cover of flushed koran is not protected free speech?

Sir Napsalot on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Breyer would limit the First Amendment rights of all Americans based solely on the reaction of a few radicals?

Unbelievable.

LASue on September 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Breyer is a typical educated marxist idiot.

apoole on September 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM

(My last post from the headline:)

If Muslims are so violent that they can’t control themselves, then you are culpable for the deaths at their hand for anything you do to offend them.

Esthier on September 14, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Exactly. His case is based in Islam being unequal and incapable of civilized behavior; we must treat them like animals and moderate our own behavior to compensate for their inadequacies.

By his same logic, people generally refrain from dropping a single piece of meat between two hungry dogs.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:24 PM

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:33 PM

What you intentionally fail to see is that all the war and judging in that passage is not being done by Christians, but by none other than GOD HIMSELF. Who kinda has a lot more authority than you or I…

Does that mean there is no place for human judgment? Of course not; law and order isn’t enforced by angels. But we make half of our own problems as a nation by not minding our own business.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Yes, I know that setting a flag on fire is intended to be a political statement, and that burning somebody else’s scripture is intended to make a religious statement. I just don’t see the constitutionally protected right to use matches to make statements.

Tres Angelas on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

I don’t think the flame itself is the problem. Stepping on a Koran or urinating on it would also anger radical Muslims to the point of rioting. And that seems to be his primary concern, the violence, not the fire.

Esthier on September 14, 2010 at 1:42 PM

That’s what I’m saying would kill Christianity.

Pretty much, if you completely embrace “turn the other cheek” at face value, all of the time – the last Christian would have died 1500 years ago (give or take a few centuries).

I may turn my cheek once in a while, but that doesn’t apply to protecting others. Hit someone in my family, and I’ll rip your whole face off (metaphorically speaking).

reaganaut on September 14, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Exactly. His case is based in Islam being unequal and incapable of civilized behavior; we must treat them like animals and moderate our own behavior to compensate for their inadequacies.

By his same logic, people generally refrain from dropping a single piece of meat between two hungry dogs.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:24 PM

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

I didn’t respond because I don’t actually have a response. That’s exactly the conclusion to draw if we follow Breyer’s logic.

Esthier on September 14, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I know! Every time someone is offended by another’s actions, they should attack…Breyer!

Mr. Grump on September 14, 2010 at 1:44 PM

On the matter of “Yelling fire in a crowded theater’, what Breyer is doing is very similar, like pouring gasoline on a fire, as he should know that yet another attack on the rights of Americans is going to even further piss off a lot of people. It is also going to set Muslims up for disappointment if they don’t keep getting their way and then they will be even more angry. If he does not understand this, he is a moron. If he does understand it he is a psychopath, a pyromaniac.

Luka on September 14, 2010 at 1:44 PM

The collapse of the concept of liberal Democracy among the denizens of the left’s fever swamps is complete. Their brains no longer work as designed (yeah…I know).

Now, the tired cliché about yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater cannot be understood by a Supreme Court justice. Let me help, Justice Breyer: when someone yells “fire!”, everyone panics at the very real risk that they will die, and scrambles to get out of the building, creating a new risk of death from trampling. Thus, the act of yelling “fire!” creates real danger.

On the other hand, burning a book does not create a physical danger to anyone, unless it is from smoke inhalation. The danger only arises when unhinged, murderous, 7th century Islamo-Vermin decide to light other things on fire — including the occasional theater — and kill people.

Even a simpleton like Breyer should be able to understand the distinction here, if he tries. Then again, he was appointed to the court by a guy who thinks he can finesse a Grand Jury on the definition of the word “is”.

Jaibones on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

What you intentionally fail to see is that all the war and judging in that passage is not being done by Christians, but by none other than GOD HIMSELF. Who kinda has a lot more authority than you or I…

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

“‘Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
-Jesus

Luke 19:27

Does that sound like pacifism?

I think you are the one who chooses not to see.

Christianity is not that gutless.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Liberals admire violence.

GardenGnome on September 14, 2010 at 1:46 PM

What you intentionally fail to see is that all the war and judging in that passage is not being done by Christians, but by none other than GOD HIMSELF. Who kinda has a lot more authority than you or I…

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:41 PM

And what you’re failing to see is all the war that God commanded his followers to do throughout the Bible. God didn’t change. He didn’t suddenly decide that was wrong. He’s the same, yesterday, today, forever, and Jesus’ words need to be understood in that context.

Esthier on September 14, 2010 at 1:46 PM

I would also like to point out that being ‘pacifist’ does not equal being a thumb-sucking peacenik, as much as Christian peacefulness is not equal to the splinter cults that have gone back to the days of Little House on the Prairie.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

mankai on September 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM

OK, I’ll bite. Whose quote is that?

jwolf on September 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Post this to any of your friends who might entertain thoughts of ever voting for a Democrat. Vote for a Democrat President, and this is the kind of Justices you will get on the Supreme Court.

Haiku Guy on September 14, 2010 at 1:31 PM

I’ll venture to say that a very substantial number of Democrats are entertaining thoughts of what a great man Justice Breyer is for his willingness to curtail their First Amendment rights.

As someone once said, “You can’t fix stupid!”

Gang-of-One on September 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Does that sound like pacifism?

I think you are the one who chooses not to see.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

I know you are the one who can’t tell the difference between unbelievers being brought to the Great White Throne at the day of judgement versus everyday life.

Get the plank out of thy own eye.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Exactly. His case is based in Islam being unequal and incapable of civilized behavior; we must treat them like animals and moderate our own behavior to compensate for their inadequacies.

By his same logic, people generally refrain from dropping a single piece of meat between two hungry dogs.
FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:24 PM

On the contrary, we would not be treating them like dogs if we change our laws to accommodate their sensibilities. We would be treating them like our Sovereigns against whom it is a crime to offend. In this scenario, we are the dogs and they are our masters.

Threshing Flora on September 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Pretty much, if you completely embrace “turn the other cheek” at face value, all of the time – the last Christian would have died 1500 years ago (give or take a few centuries).

I may turn my cheek once in a while, but that doesn’t apply to protecting others. Hit someone in my family, and I’ll rip your whole face off (metaphorically speaking).

reaganaut on September 14, 2010 at 1:43 PM

That’s not quite what I meant, but on that note, the whole “turning cheek” is completely misunderstood. It’s not a meek response or one where you simply let someone beat you. It’s a response that demands that the victim be treated with dignity and respect. Turning the other cheek has consequences for the person who would continue hitting you. It means they have to strike you in such a way that only a equal would strike another.

Same with walking another mile with someone who only asked you to walk one. Soldiers in that day would make others walk with them, but they couldn’t ask that you walk more than one mile. You doing so, put them in a difficult position.

This was pure non violent resistance, not at all submission.

Esthier on September 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM

…in the proximate setting…

I suppose this is the operative phrase that Breyer is hinging his doubt on. I’d like for him to elaborate.

ernesto on September 14, 2010 at 1:50 PM

This is Chapter 10,345 of the Left’s feeble attempt at using Alinsky Rule 11, to get everyone riled up until someone commits violence, then the state comes in and saves the day.

faraway on September 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Romans…

13:4. For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.

More of that pacifism.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM

staggering…truly.

The Left has been SCREAMING about how “hateful” Christians are…and now this clown of a “Justice” is saying: “Christians just aren’t hateful ENOUGH“.

Clear message to Radical Islam: the more radical you are, the more we fear you…and thus the more rights we give you!!

Justrand on September 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Under this standard, the few remaining editors at Newsweek ought to be quite nervous.

The Lone Platypus on September 14, 2010 at 1:54 PM

On the contrary, we would not be treating them like dogs if we change our laws to accommodate their sensibilities. We would be treating them like our Sovereigns against whom it is a crime to offend. In this scenario, we are the dogs and they are our masters.

Threshing Flora on September 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM

I agree, but we were analyzing from Breyer’s perspective.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 1:54 PM

But Beyer sets fire to the constitution with every ruling…

Branch Rickey on September 14, 2010 at 1:55 PM

More of that pacifism.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Indeed it is.

Note the last sentence in that passage you’ve butchered – “…an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.”

Not “…an avenger to go forth and execute wrath upon those that doth evil.”

In other words, retaliation for evil done versus going on a seek-and-destroy mission. The former is simply necessary for survival in this fallen world, much less an ordered society. The latter should be done with extreme prejudice.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

So can we burn a Koran if it’s wrapped in an American flag?

Mr. D on September 14, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Ah, but the islamic correct way of disposing of a koran is in fact to burn it.

slickwillie2001 on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

I think it’s time to take the “pacifist” Jesus’ advice:

Then said he to them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his money: and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
~ Luke 22:36

Clearly the government is telling us, that they will provide no defense against the death cult of islam, so it’s up to the individual to do so.

Self defense is a Christian value.

Rebar on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Hopefully, they put more thought into it than Justice Breyer does in this argument. The “fire in a crowded theater” standard is intended to limit government intrusion on free speech, not enable an expansion of it. It means that only when speech that will directly and immediately result in a threat to human life in the proximate setting can the government criminalize it — and it has to contain the element of malicious falsehood as well. After all, no one will prosecute a person who yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater when it’s really on fire, or when the person yelling honestly believes it to be so.

I guess Breyer read my post.

I’m not entirely sure I believe what I wrote… I was trying out ideas. But the fact that Breyer said the same thing is interesting.

I think it is the publicized burning that could make the burning theater comparison valid.

I don’t know where you get the idea: “only when speech that will directly and immediately result in a threat to human life,” because I’ve never heard that before. And I don’t know that there has to be any falsehood involved either. Falsehood is often open to interpretation. And what exactly is a Malicious motive? One person’s malicious could be another person’s justice!

Inciting people to violence or panic that leads to violence is the point of the exception. You can’t really yell, “Kill him!” in most circumstances. And you can’t order people to kill someone. And in fact if you are even suspected of advocating violence against the President you are definitely silenced! And rightly so.

Again, I think burning a Koran to make a religious statement privately within a congregation, is protected. But trying to make an international statement effectively projecting that it is American policy is not.

It is the public, international message that is the problem, especially in war time.

I’m not really settled on what I really think. But I do know my gut reaction is that the spectacle that was made last week was not good. It felt wrong.

What if the pastor’s direct motive was to inflame the war and get people killed? Maybe the guy just likes the idea of the power he wields. How do we know his motives aren’t completely malicious? Is it protected speech then?

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Just because no one’s said it yet, I’d like to point out that he was making an analogy in response to a spontaneous, hypothetical question. He never expressed his own opinion on the issue

And we’re saying it was a ill-conceived response and that current case law is sufficient to handle the right to burn Korans (or American flags, or bibles, or any other expression).

There’s no new ground needed to be plowed here.

On the other hand, Breyer is a big fan of international law and in a number of countries blasphemy laws and other restrictions have been legislated. If he wishes for us to go down that path, we’ll all use our own “heckler’s veto” to stop him.

So to speak.

SteveMG on September 14, 2010 at 1:57 PM

More of that pacifism taking quotes out of context, either through ignorance or intention.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:53 PM

FIXED

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 1:58 PM

All of you womenfolk better cover up. You sluts. You might cause an Islamic protest.

/

faraway on September 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Baxter Greene: Breyer,or,ahem,Kagan(I jest):)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Dude…..

I see you are as pissed about this idiocy as any thinking person would be.

I share your disgust.

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I think it is the publicized burning that could make the burning theater comparison valid.

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

We can speak but not publish? Ridiculous.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Again, I think burning a Koran to make a religious statement privately within a congregation, is protected. But trying to make an international statement effectively projecting that it is American policy is not.

But then the “crowded theater” standard can’t be used.

If he wants to use a national security defense or argument, that’s another issue.

Although I guess the “public safety” argument could be used if one argues that the Koran burning can lead to increased attacks here. That is, American public safety is threatened by the burning.

That’s pretty tenuous for me.

National security, yes; public safety, no.

SteveMG on September 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

In other words, retaliation for evil done versus going on a seek-and-destroy mission. The former is simply necessary for survival in this fallen world, much less an ordered society. The latter should be done with extreme prejudice.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

That still isn’t pacifism.

Do you even understand what the word means?

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM

FIXED

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 1:58 PM

What is out of context, and where do you get this pacifism nonsense from in the bible?

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Breyer is in love with himself and hearing himself speak. There is no doubt that he is interesting to listen to if only to be amazed at his interpretation of the law. He believes that we fit everything into today’s concept and he is the only one who knows what that is.

Vince on September 14, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Freedom is never free. Society pays a price for free speech but it is a price that must be paid.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM

That still isn’t pacifism.

Do you even understand what the word means?

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM

I do, you don’t. Though I can’t really blame you as the word has been mislabeled and hijacked to the point of absurdity. People equate ‘pacifist’ with ‘flower-power hippie peacenik’, or idiots like Code Pink.

It is SUPPOSED to mean the idea of not going out and looking for trouble. Pacifism does NOT mean acting like Bambi in a world full of wolves – just that intentionally sticking your nose in their dens is a Bad Idea.

There are exceptions to this, of course…our brave police officers have to go looking for trouble, and having a working spy force is a harsh reality of nationhood. But the general idea still holds.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 1:34 PM
Dude…..

I see you are as pissed about this idiocy as any thinking person would be.

I share your disgust.

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Baxter Greene:LOL———————:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

All of you womenfolk better cover up. You sluts. You might cause an Islamic protest.

/

faraway on September 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Heh!!!!

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Actually that’s called self defense.

They have online dictionaries, unless you are going to redefine every word in them to suit your argument.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

All of you womenfolk better cover up. You sluts. You might cause an Islamic protest.

/

faraway on September 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

faraway: You is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad,lol,hey,
Iran says, women causes “EarthQuakes”!:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:08 PM

What else is the guy supposed to say? He might get his head cut off.

Mirimichi on September 14, 2010 at 2:08 PM

They have online dictionaries, unless you are going to redefine every word in them to suit your argument.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Take your own advice, shrieken.

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM

FYI- 33 Repubs voted for Breyer, including McCain & McConnell.

marinetbryant on September 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Make no mistake, liberals HATE free speech.

Go back and look, Rhenquist and Scalia are the ones promoting free speech.

Mr. Joe on September 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM

It seems like it’s not free speech to burn a Koran in public because someone might get killed and a whole lot of other mischief may result.

If a bible were burned in public, do we expect the same response? I think not and it is up to the religious extremist to control their own behavior or accept the consequences.

They are like children who expects to convert people to their way of thinking by throwing a tantrum.

Vince on September 14, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Baxter Greene:LOL———————:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Speaking of LOL…..this post of yours last night was a classic.

P 311 A DANGEROUS NEW ELEMENT

Discovery Announcement ~ The densest element in the known Universe has been found!

PELOSIUM:

http://www.theospark.net/2010/09/p-311-dangerous-new-element.html

canopfor on September 13, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 2:11 PM

What is out of context, and where do you get this pacifism nonsense from in the bible?

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Well, for one, the verse you quoted is about pacifism. In contest, it’s about submitting to the ruling authority and seeing them as an agent of God (and this is coming from someone who was to be unjustly killed by that authority).

It is one of the verses that was used by some Colonial Christians to argue against the Revolutionary War.

And there is a distinct difference between justice (or injustice) meeted out by a ruling authority and what is usually considered “violence.” You in your interpretation you make the same mistake as those who say that the verse “Thou shalt not kill” applies to the death penalty.

This is a very simple thing to understand. Thus, my conclusion that you either have a great misunderstanding of Scripture, or you are intentionally misinterpreting these verses to further some agenda of yours, or both.

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 2:12 PM

The founding fathers apparently made a mistake in thinking that the nation would be sensible enough to deduce the existence of rights there were not explicitly written.

Since there’s no written right to privacy, we’re now being spied on 7 ways from Sunday.

Since there’s no right to burn books (religious or not), we’re arguing over this.

Since there’s nothing explicitly forbidding the burning of Old Glory, we have to sit back and twiddle our thumbs as assorted human trash spits in our faces.

I’d like to have seen them try to burn a Roman banner as a protest…

Dark-Star on September 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Okay, I wrote “R3volutionary War” as part of a response to an above post and my entire post was blocked without notice, chance to amend or explanation, and yet “R3volutionary War” makes it thorough the filter just fine.

Stupidl

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

It seems like it’s not free speech to burn a Koran in public because someone might get killed and a whole lot of other mischief may result.

Yes. That’s the dilemma. We must allow the extremists to control our speech.

But what’s the alternative? If there’s a real threat of imment violence taking place because of the speech – people getting killed, riots taking place – what should the government do?

SteveMG on September 14, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Just because no one’s said it yet, I’d like to point out that he was making an analogy in response to a spontaneous, hypothetical question. He never expressed his own opinion on the issue. You guys are at least dimly aware of this considering you keep saying “he seems to believe…” rather than just saying “he believes”.

Alrighty then, carry on.

crr6 on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Actually, his inference upon inference hat tip shows exactly how he thinks about it.

He knows it will never be outlawed in one fell swoop, hence this statement by him:

“It will be answered over time in a series of cases which force people to think carefully.

He knows if you can reason one inference upon another, you can get to the desired end result while totally ignoring the Constitution. Because in his world, the Constitution isn’t the centerpiece everything branches from, it’s the foundation used to pervert meaning from one branch of a legal argument to the next branch.

Every argument needs to have a direct tie to the Constitution. To use case law based on another case, which was based on another case is subversive.

ButterflyDragon on September 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Iran says, women causes “EarthQuakes”!:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:08 PM

“In Iran..we don’t have homosexuals like in your country”…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_3RUwAJ_MI

Pay no attention to our massive human rights abuses…..what is important is to stop some dude somewhere who might burn the Koran or draw a cartoon of Mohammad…….or yell “fire” in a theater.

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Well how does he feel about Dutch Cartoons or whiteface pics of Obama? Everything spoken against Obama is called racist (remember the race pimp threats about long hot summer in the ghettos thingy?) Should that be unconstitutional also?

What if Christians rioted every time a baby was killed by an abortionist – would spaking pro-choice in public be unconstitutional?

If the freedom of speech is to be limited because of a reaction to that speech, wouldn’t any party be able to take down the other by causing riots at their get-togethers?

Judges like this should be impeached for incompetence

Don L on September 14, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Justice Breyer: Freedom of speech is not covered by anything that offends radical muslims because offending them is as dangerous as yelling fire in a crowded theater.

But go ahead and offend anyone else, because well, most people don’t commit mass murder when they get offended.

Scrappy on September 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM

This is so depressing.

Rush was talking about how hosed we are on scale of one to ten.

This is eleven.

Bruno Strozek on September 14, 2010 at 2:33 PM

“‘Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
-Jesus

Luke 19:27

Does that sound like pacifism?

I think you are the one who chooses not to see.

Christianity is not that gutless.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

That looks like the last line of a parable, basically a quote from a fictional lord.
Honestly, I don’t know how to interpret it.

Count to 10 on September 14, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Not that I’m inclined to believe that George Stephanopoulos accurately reported what Stephen Breyer said . . . because I am not so disposed.

First, it is hard for me to believe that Justice Breyer would put himself in the position of pre-judging a case that has never been briefed or argued before him . . . particularly given the fact that he was talking to a known partisan reporter!

However, presuming for the moment that Breyer did make such an unwise statement in speaking with the former Clinton political operative, the unmistakable result would be that a sitting Justice “just sent a message” to the entire Muslim world strongly suggesting that continuing to behave in violent, deadly and extremist ways in response to the slightest slight from any Westerner, might well result in the Supreme Court of the United States finding a way to kowtow to your wishes, perhaps even tacitly acknowledging the “superiority” of Sharia law!

But presuming (as I do) that George Stephanopoulos was the culprit here . . . that he was the one who misconstrued and/or stretched whatever Breyer actually did say to him all out of proportion, then it was Stephanopoulos who sent the message to the entire Muslim world that continuing to behave in violent, deadly and extremist ways are an effective response to any minor insults or provocations coming from any Westerner, and might ultimately result in even the United States Supreme Court giving “due deference” to the demands of Sharia, even over prior constitutional adjudications.

Trochilus on September 14, 2010 at 2:40 PM

But what’s the alternative? If there’s a real threat of imment violence taking place because of the speech – people getting killed, riots taking place – what should the government do?

SteveMG on September 14, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Destroy the enemy that threatens our safety. Fight a hot, short-war strategy and preserve our rights rather than a long, slow-war that will consume our rights.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM

I think it is the publicized burning that could make the burning theater comparison valid.

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM
We can speak but not publish? Ridiculous.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Actually, I think the publicity part was the media’s fault.

I don’t know if the pastor intended from the start to throw the burning in the face of all Muslims, or if he intended to show within the confines of his own congregation, his disgust with the message of the Koran.

If he did intend to inflame Islam then I think the government, who is trying to prosecute a war, has an interest in his sending messages to the enemy.

If it was meant to be a private religious expression… not hidden but not intended for an international audience either, then it should be protected.

It is hard for me to buy that it was purely meant as religious expression. The date and the international nature make it seem much more like he was a private citizen trying to make foreign policy.

It certainly had ramifications on our foreign policy, on our war policy. It might even be said to be aiding and abetting… as I think the war protesters do. I think they should be limited in scope as well.

I also have a difficult time seeing the burning of the Koran as a Christian act. It seems like over kill. Can’t they just say they think it is evil without causing an international uproar?

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Okay, I wrote “R3volutionary War” as part of a response to an above post and my entire post was blocked without notice, chance to amend or explanation, and yet “R3volutionary War” makes it thorough the filter just fine.

Stupidl

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Hot Air had a small problem with people arguing for armed resistance to the government after the ’08 election.

Count to 10 on September 14, 2010 at 2:42 PM

You can’t touch my copy of the Iliad. But if you want to burn your own copy (and incur the wrath of Jove), knock yourself out.

Tzetzes on September 14, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Every argument needs to have a direct tie to the Constitution. To use case law based on another case, which was based on another case is subversive.
ButterflyDragon on September 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

I have maintained this all along throughout the years.
This precedental BS is getting old.

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:46 PM

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Do you want your freedom handed to you on a plate?

Sorry, but freedom is never free and never long taken for granted.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Hitchens on Holmes:

Fire, fire, fire, fire. Now you’ve heard it. Not shouted in a crowded theatre, admittedly, as I seem now to have shouted it in the Hogwarts dining hall. But the point is made. Everyone knows the fatuous verdict of the greatly over-praised Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who, when asked for an actual example of when it would be proper to limit speech or define it as an action, gave that of shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

It’s very often forgotten what he was doing in that case was sending to prison a group of Yiddish speaking socialists, whose literature was printed in a language most Americans couldn’t read, opposing Mr. Wilson’s participation in the First World War, and the dragging of the United States into that sanguinary conflict, which the Yiddish speaking socialists had fled from Russia to escape. In fact it could be just as plausible argued that the Yiddish speaking socialists who were jailed by the excellent and greatly over-praised Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes were the real fire fighters, were the ones shouting fire when there really was a fire in a very crowded theatre indeed.

Tzetzes on September 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM

I prefer the “vague” constitution that didn’t take account for every trouble we’ve experienced through generations. Think about it. The more man defines things, the more muddled and less clear things become.

shick on September 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Hot Air had a small problem with people arguing for armed resistance to the government after the ’08 election.

Count to 10 on September 14, 2010 at 2:42 PM

I spoke in fear about it happening & I receive a warning from AP about it.I certainly wasn’t supporting it.
But to be fair, it’s their site & if they want to pick & choose their politically correct speech, it’s certainly within their right.
That’s why there’s HARP.

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

The more man defines things, the more muddled and less clear things become.

shick on September 14, 2010 at 2:48 PM

+10

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:49 PM

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:08 PM
========================================
“In Iran..we don’t have homosexuals like in your country”…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_3RUwAJ_MI

Pay no attention to our massive human rights abuses…..what is important is to stop some dude somewhere who might burn the Koran or draw a cartoon of Mohammad…….or yell “fire” in a theater.

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Baxter Greene: Ya,no kidding,the Iranian gays are hanging
from their street lights!:)

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:49 PM

If you’re willing to accept freedom on a plate then you’ll accept whatever portions they’ll give you.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM
Do you want your freedom handed to you on a plate?

Sorry, but freedom is never free and never long taken for granted.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Yes, please, with a side of mashed potatoes.

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM

“‘Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
-Jesus

Luke 19:27

Does that sound like pacifism?

I think you are the one who chooses not to see.

Christianity is not that gutless.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Sounds like a falsehood to me, as that is NOT a direct quote from Jesus. That is the words of character in a parable Jesus was telling.

Fatal on September 14, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Do you want your freedom handed to you on a plate?

Sorry, but freedom is never free and never long taken for granted.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Well said.

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Stupidl

29Victor on September 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

29Victor: It happens to me as well!

Substitute the R:)

*evolution

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Yes, please, with a side of mashed potatoes.

petunia on September 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Sorry but we’re low on mashed potatoes—but that’s OK, because thanks to your sacrifice there will be more potatoes for us.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:53 PM

If you’re willing to accept freedom on a plate then you’ll accept whatever portions they’ll give you.

FloatingRock on September 14, 2010 at 2:50 PM

+100
You’re on a roll!

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Mashed potatoes is fat food (carbs).
Food to make you fat & lazy & inactive in the pursuits of freedom.
Eating mashed potatoes from the couch, the armchair politician decides to uneventfully give up more of his freedom under the guise of ‘protection’.
I recall Ben Franklin saying something about that once.

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM

PELOSIUM:

http://www.theospark.net/2010/09/p-311-dangerous-new-element.html

canopfor on September 13, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Baxter Greene on September 14, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Baxter Greene: Hehe,I nearly died laughing,reading it!:)

Dire Straits sent me the link for that website,I visit it
daily!
=======================================

http://www.theospark.net/

canopfor on September 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM

He would trade our freedom for some sort of imagined peace that preventing this would supposedly bring? I think Breyer needs to study a little Patrick Henry.

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! …

… What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

pannw on September 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Christianity is not that gutless.

sharrukin on September 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

It’s not. Among the Christian God’s many characteristics he is just, vengeful and terrifying. I’m glad that he is merciful upon me, a sinner and will not cast me into hell but has forgiven me because I repent of my sins and trust in him.

shick on September 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM

One will typically find national liberals on the wrong side of most moral issues.

It is by design.

scotash on September 14, 2010 at 2:57 PM

shut up they said

unseen on September 14, 2010 at 2:57 PM

That looks like the last line of a parable, basically a quote from a fictional lord.
Honestly, I don’t know how to interpret it.
Count to 10 on September 14, 2010 at 2:39 PM

It is the parable of the unprofitable servant. Jesus is referring to how he will deal at the second coming with those who rejected him. The entire parable is eschatological.

tommyboy on September 14, 2010 at 2:57 PM

+10

Badger40 on September 14, 2010 at 2:49 PM

Thanks.

shick on September 14, 2010 at 2:58 PM

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