The latest drama surrounding irresponsible publicity addict, Quran-burner and gonzo Islam-hater Rev. Terry Jones is his attempt to get a permit to demonstrate outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan because, well, because it’s there, I guess. Wayne County and Dearborn officials insist that he pay security costs that they estimate at about $46,000 before he will be allowed to incite more violence and riots overseas. These are a near certainty because a lot of people in other countries can’t understand why the United States lets its citizens say and demonstrate about any fool thing they want to.
Like Fred Phelps and his cult’s putrid disruptions of veteran funerals, Jones is an example of how America is bound to permit irresponsible as well as responsible speech under the protection of the First Amendment. Clarence Darrow’s quote is applicable: “In order to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much.” Yes, allowing citizens to intentionally inflame Islamic radicals abroad and demonstrate for religious bigotry is “too much” freedom, but we shouldn’t trust our government to start deciding what is “enough.” Is the security fee a ploy to squelch Jones’ right to make an ass of himself, inflaming international conflicts in the process, or a legitimate requirement? That’s a judge’s call.
There is no question, however, that we have to allow irresponsible, hateful, ignorant demonstrations to go forward. Everything about Jones’ protest is wrong…his motives, its purpose, the timing, the likely effects. It is an unethical act. But for our own sake, and to preserve the foundation of this nation’s unique democracy, it would be more unethical to prohibit it.