Intimidating people with freedom of speech?

The American Muslim Advisory Council in the town of Manchester, Tennessee invited the US attorney Bill Killian and the special agent for the FBI in charge of that region Kenneth Moore to talk about hate crimes, in order to foster a “public discourse in a diverse society, with a particular focus on the Muslim religion.”

Unfortunately, not everyone thought it was a good idea. The room was packed and some people protested both inside and outside, continuously interrupting the speakers. The comments of some of the protestors show an extraordinary level of paranoia about the possible influence of Sharia law.

Protester Larry McIntosh, 54, of Manchester, said he was skeptical of Killian and Moore.

“I feel like (these) men are attempting to intimidate people with the freedom of speech and that bothers me,” he said. “I would like to say that Muslims have a right to live here and worship freely, but I do not think they have the right to change American law to fit Sharia law. Violence no matter where it comes from bothers me.”

Former “Saturday Night Live” star Victoria Jackson was among the protesters.

“The Constitution and Sharia cannot coexist,” she said. “Islam is evil.”

You can watch some of the proceedings. As an example of what ‘public discourse in a diverse society’ should look like, it is not pretty.

I too would hate to live under Sharia or any other religion-based law but the system that we should be most likely concerned about in the US in one based on Christianity, not Islam.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Why are these Christians allowed to say such things?

    This makes me feel timid.

  2. wtfwhatever says

    *I too would hate to live under Sharia or any other religion-based law but the system that we should be most likely concerned about in the US in one based on Christianity, not Islam.*

    I think that’s a silly statement. A law based on Christianity was very nicely and for the most part defanged at Independence Hall, codified in the First Amendment.

    On the other-hand, Islam claims to be the fastest growing religion and given that trend and other trends and events in the past years from England, France throughout Europe to Turkey and Russia it seems reasonable to ask questions about it as Jonathan Turley does below.

    To just blithely waive hands and issue the “oh I’m more afraid of Christianity” seems shallow and politically correct, a self-serving statement to mark you as thinking correctly on the issue. And yet it moves.

    English Citizens Increasingly Turning To Sharia Courts

    We have spent considerable time on this blog discussing the dangers of Sharia system in various Muslim countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, particularly in the treatment of women and girls. However, in any free nation, citizens should be allowed to resolve their own disputes through private mediation or religious adjudications. This is what is happening increasingly in England where Muslims are circumventing the court system in favor of Islamic courts and Sharia law. The growing influence of Sharia courts has raised concerns among women’s groups and such reliance should come with added vigilance to ensure that all of the parties are truly consenting to such faith-based adjudications.

    The article below describes these proceedings before a sheikh who warns witnesses “You must speak the truth, sister. Because Allah is listening to your every word, you can lie to us but not to Him.”

    There are an estimated 85 Sharia councils in Britain. What is fascinating is that the English Muslim lawyers are now actively seeking clients to represent in the burgeoning legal system.

    While I support the right to these people in seeking justice from Sharia courts as a private matter, I will not hide my concern. It represents a further separation from society for Muslim families and a further compartmentation of parts of society into insular communities. Civil courts should represent part of our collective covenant to live in a unified legal system. Another concern is that it can reinforce those who oppose separation of church or mosque and state. With quasi-courts meting out faith-based justice, many are likely to seek other expression of religious doctrine in laws and policies.

    These concerns should not trump the right of citizens to resolve their disputes in such private disputes. For that reason, there are times when Sharia law may become relevant to contractual and other disputes. Indeed, in New York there were dozens of Jewish courts used by immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some such courts continue to operate in this country as do informal Sharia courts.

  3. maudell says

    Too much Fox News and WorldNetDaily for those people. (I still can’t believe Victoria Jackson is not a fake tea party performance artist… Doesn’t she call Obama “muslim communist fascists” or something?)

  4. Mano Singham says

    The idea that the First Amendment has somehow inoculated the country against Christian-based law is surely not correct. The laws may not have the word god in them but legislators are constantly invoking the Bible as the basis for their views.

    I do not think there should be any alternative legal system, religious or otherwise, to the secular one that governs everyone equally.

  5. wtfwhatever says

    “The idea that the First Amendment has somehow inoculated the country against Christian-based law is surely not correct.”

    That’s why I said “most part defanged”. There do seem to be small skirmishes that crop up each year, but in my time on this planet I’ve had no problem in school or society learning evolution, not saying prayers in school, or at public meetings, buying alcohol (on Sundays!!), etc. There are skirmishes, but few victories, and any that are there are usually very short lived.

    (The biggest threat to the country from Christian based law seems to be coming from Texas with its antievolution books and that’s mainly a problem because we still make students/school districts purchase dead tree books and Texas is so huge it sways the market.)

    “I do not think there should be any alternative legal system, religious or otherwise, to the secular one that governs everyone equally.”

    I would agree, especially if you refine that to criminal law.

    In the civil court (and I am surely no lawyer, but I do read Turley and others), Sharia, Beit Din, etc., can be seen at times to be special cases of contracting and arbitration, and so may have more of a role, so long as it’s agreed upon beforehand.

  6. invivoMark says

    Oh look, Mano’s most respectable and well-mannered poster is sticking around.

    However, it seems to have somehow slipped your mind that some people are denied the right to marry whom they please based on Christian religious ideals.

    But I guess you’re still right, since the First Amendment otherwise keeps our legislature and laws secular. Like the tax code! Oh, wait, that one puts all kinds of loopholes in there with Christian “charities”, and churches don’t have to pay taxes. Uh, at least our legislatures don’t have prayers before every meeting? Oh, darn, they do.

  7. jimmyfromchicago says

    I’m still waiting for Victoria Jackson to announce she has been pulling a Joaquin Phoenix on us.

    Fortunately, I haven’t been holding my breath.

  8. wtfwhatever says

    Yeah, and Catholics are losing on gay marriage day by day with visible progress, or haven’t you figured that one out yet?

  9. wtfwhatever says

    By Cathy Payne
    USA Today
    Thu Jun 6, 2013 10:02 PM
    About 72 percent of Americans say legal recognition of same-sex marriage is “inevitable,” a survey released Thursday finds.

    This number includes 85 percent of same-sex marriage supporters as well as 59 percent of its opponents, according to the Pew Research Center’s survey.

    “As more states legalize gay marriage or give equal status, the question in our minds was how the public sees the trajectory on this issue,” said Michael Dimock, the report’s lead author and director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. “Do they see a future in which gay marriage is going to be the rule, not the exception, in American society?”

    For the first time in Pew polling, slightly more than half (51 percent) of Americans favor allowing gay men and lesbians to marry legally, the report said.

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