The Republican Liberty Caucus of Northeast Florida will highlight the First Amendment with a program featuring controversial pastor Terry Jones on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The meeting will be held at the Fairfield Inn (4888 Lenoir Avenue) in Jacksonville (Fla.) beginning at 6 p.m. Dr. Jones will speak on the topic of ‘Freedom of Speech, Religious Liberty, Christianity and Islam.’
RLC is a libertarian-leaning political group focusing on the U.S. Constitution and limits on federal powers. RLC is one of many groups concerned about the federal government’s encroachment on freedom of speech and religious liberty.
Jones drew widespread attention and sparked a propaganda campaign in the national media sector and blogosphere in 2011 when he decided to burn a Koran to protest what he believed was a clampdown on religious liberty. Most who appreciate the significance of the First Amendment and its relationship to liberty upheld Jones’ right to protest in the manner he chose even if they didn’t agree with his process.
The controversy that followed Jones’ announcement inspired a national debate and a media blitz, with President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Supreme Court Asso. Justice Stephen Breyer and others weighing in.
Unfortunately few leaders focused on the issue that mattered—the right of an obscure U.S. clergyman to express his discontent in a peaceful, legal manner. The worst statements came from Breyer who likened Jones’ action to ‘yelling fire in a crowded theater.’
Breyer positioned himself as arbiter of individual rights that are God-given, or for those who don’t believe in God, are a natural, innate right held by all. American leaders failed to accurately convey the significance of the First Amendment, losing an opportunity to message freedom throughout the world. That Breyer continues to serve on the court is remarkable, considering his eagerness to dilute a key pillar of freedom in the U.S.
The United States stands alone when it comes to the breadth of the First Amendment. Numerous other countries, even Canada, have adopted politically correct positions that limit that right.
In December, 2011, President Barack Obama’s administration met with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss religious tolerance. This organization and others seek to limit the ability of citizens, even those in free countries, to criticize a faith. Few national media even covered the meeting. Many conservatives perceived it as a lobbying effort by OIC member countries to establish a special status for their faith and to initiate global repression of speech.
The United Nations has aligned with the OIC platform, setting aside special protections for one faith while turning a blind eye to oppression of other faiths, often by murder or imprisonment, in Muslim majority countries.
Paul Marshall, senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, wrote an essay for Imprimus, a publication of Hillsdale College. Marshall’s essay suggests there is a potential threat not only to the First Amendment but also to U.S. sovereignty, inherent in the mission of OIC:
“The OIC’s charter commits it ‘to combat defamation of Islam.’ Its current action plan calls for ‘deterrent punishments’ to counter ‘Islamophobia.’ In 2009, an official OIC organ, the ‘International Islamic Fiqh [Jurisprudence] Academy,’ issued fatwas calling for speech bans, including ‘international legislation,’ to protect ‘the interests and values of [Islamic] society.’ The OIC does not define what speech should be outlawed, but the repressive practices of its leading member states speak for themselves.”
Ironically as these events proceeded, neither the Obama administration nor most of national media addressed the oppression of other faiths around the world. No 'international legislation' can supersede the First Amendment, at least legally.
Jones’ speech will be followed by a question and answer session that will likely feature lively exchanges. The US Report has covered past RLC-NEF events and found the members are very informed politically. Their understanding of the history and context of the U.S. Constitution is most definitely above average.
RLC-NEF chair Louis William Rose addressed some of Jones’ controversial statements by saying, “While all the members of the RLC may not agree with Dr. Jones’ position, they all agree that it is his right to make such statements without violent reprisal.”
The public is welcome to attend the gathering; admission is free.
(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 26, 2012)
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