Author Topic: Peaceful protest, or harassment?  (Read 3597 times)

Offline ethercat

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Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« on: August 09, 2010, 19:41 »
I read this article, and although it's about Muslims and not Scientologists, I have some related thoughts on the subject, which are pertinent to protesting scientology.  This post is both about nothing in particular, and yet, about everything in particular.

http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2010/08/09/news/aa1monctmosque08080910.txt
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Conn. Muslims requesting protection from protests
Published: Monday, August 09, 2010

By Luther Turmelle, North Bureau Chief
lturmelle@newhavenregister

Connecticut Muslim leaders are urging public officials and police to assure they can worship without being harassed after members of a Dallas-based group showed up outside a Bridgeport mosque Friday chanting what have been described as hate-filled slogans.

The call for action is in the wake of an appearance by members of Operation Save America outside the Masjid An-Noor mosque on Fairfield Avenue.

The Rev. Flip Benham, director of Operation Save America, was at the scene of the Bridgeport mosque protest, but was not available for comment Sunday.

Nobody was injured, and there were no arrests in the incident, but the idea of a group of people reportedly spewing hate-filled invectives at mosque members has one Muslim leader from New Haven angered.

...

But members of the group stood outside the mosque as worshippers prepared for the upcoming observance of Ramadan, according to Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of Connecticut office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and chanted hate-filled slogans. Dhaouadi said the protesters said things like, “Islam is a lie” and “Jesus hates Muslims.”

“Our observance of Ramadan starts next week and that means there will be an increase of people coming to Connecticut mosques on a daily basis,” said Dhaouadi. “We don’t want to get caught in a situation where things might escalate, either by people protesting outside the mosques or Muslims who might become angry at the protests.”

The First Amendment gives us both the right to free speech and the right to freely practice (or not) religion.  The right to free speech means that we can freely protest and say anything we want.

Now, anyone who knows me, and/or has protested with me, knows that I am not a fan of agressive, confrontational protests.  I just do not do it that way. 

Do we have the right to protest agressively and/or confrontationally?  Absolutely. 

But just because we can, does it mean we should?  At what point does it quit being freedom of speech and start becoming harassment?  Do we win allies when we protest in such a manner?  Are they the sort of allies we desire?  How do the allies we desire respond to such a protest?  Your thoughts?

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Offline Stutroup

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2010, 22:25 »
Really, there is a strict line at the point where a protest ceases being peaceful.

What the group is protesting is Islam itself, and not any abuses committed.  They are blaming all of Islam for what a very small few radicals have done.

What they are doing is not out of any real basis, but is out of hatred and religious bigotry.  Whereas (almost all) the people who protest Scientology are against the abuses, the crimes, the active policies to harass and hurt people, the  group, "Operation Save America" is specifically trying to oppose Islam itself.

Their motives are that Islam does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but rather as a prophet.  That there are some groups which demand violence, although the largest majority do not.  Their only basis is attempting to compare religions to invalidate Islam.

While that does not necessarily make their protesting illegal, it does show that group as a bunch of bigoted, deliberately ill-informed people.

The part of that which catches my attention is that the leaders of the Mosque are asking that the protesters be removed during active religious services.  If that is allowed, it sets a dangerous precedent for everyone who legitimately protests at any house of worship, or place which is recognized as such.

Offline RedShieldwolf

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 17:27 »
The First Amendment gives us both the right to free speech and the right to freely practice (or not) religion.  The right to free speech means that we can freely protest and say anything we want.

Also the right to assemble. So the question is whether the Dallas "Christians'" right to free speech and assembly trumps the Connecticut Muslims' right to assemble and practice their religion.

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Now, anyone who knows me, and/or has protested with me, knows that I am not a fan of aggressive, confrontational protests.  I just do not do it that way. 

Do we have the right to protest aggressively and/or confrontationally?  Absolutely.

Depends on what protesting "aggressively" means. If it means violence, stalking, or harassment, it's questionable (I guess it depends on what harassment means as well). If it means asking tough questions, yelling, chanting, etc., we certainly do have that right during protest. (EDIT: When I say stalking, it might sound like I'm talking about anonsparrow. I'm not.)

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But just because we can, does it mean we should?  At what point does it quit being freedom of speech and start becoming harassment?  Do we win allies when we protest in such a manner?  Are they the sort of allies we desire?  How do the allies we desire respond to such a protest?  Your thoughts?

As Stutroup points out, our protests are not centered around their beliefs, so much as the gross human rights violations, fraud, and abuse that upper management continues to perpetrate. I personally think we should do whatever we can to cause doubt without violating the rights of Scientology parishioners.

Islam is not like the Church of Scientology. There are liberal and conservative, extremist and cult-like groups that are considered Muslim. The Church of Scientology is a fundamentalist corporation. All Orgs and Missions operate by RTC's standards. There is no freedom of thought.

I remember the May 2010 protest in Kansas City where we were just standing quietly on the opposite side of the street when a woman leaned over the driver's seat to complain about our masks. Some people will already have their minds made up before they understand what's going on. Contrast this with Bernie Headley yelling that he wants his daughter back. I know the cult doesn't gain any allies from that.

IMO, we're not preventing them from having a peaceful assembly. More often than not, they're the ones trying to stop us, and not just during a "religious service" either.

Offline ethercat

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 22:07 »
Really, there is a strict line at the point where a protest ceases being peaceful.

Where is the line?  Is it when things start being thrown, or people start punching each other, or is it at a earlier stage that might lead to actual violence?

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The part of that which catches my attention is that the leaders of the Mosque are asking that the protesters be removed during active religious services.  If that is allowed, it sets a dangerous precedent for everyone who legitimately protests at any house of worship, or place which is recognized as such.

I do agree with you that removing protesters who aren't breaking any laws would set a dangerous precedent.  There are laws in some places about making noise which disturbs worship services.  There are also laws about "disturbing the peace" in many places.  I don't know what the laws were at that particular Connecticut mosque, though, and of course, it's possible to protest without making enough noise to disturb a service. 

Also the right to assemble. So the question is whether the Dallas "Christians'" right to free speech and assembly trumps the Connecticut Muslims' right to assemble and practice their religion.

I think it's possible for both to take place at the same time (though maybe not with those particular protesters).

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Depends on what protesting "aggressively" means. If it means violence, stalking, or harassment, it's questionable (I guess it depends on what harassment means as well). If it means asking tough questions, yelling, chanting, etc., we certainly do have that right during protest. (EDIT: When I say stalking, it might sound like I'm talking about anonsparrow. I'm not.)

I'm not talking about anonsparrow, or any other incidents in particular, either.  I've just noted a difference in protesting styles among different people, and think it is probably a worthwhile topic of discussion.  I'm curious where people draw the line.

For a definition of "aggressive," let's use this: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aggressive
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characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country.

And for a definition of harassment: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/harassment
From the first definition:
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–verb (used with object)
1. to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.
2. to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities; harry; raid.

From the legal dictionary definition, lower down the same page:
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to subject persistently and wrongfully to annoying, offensive, or troubling behavior

But I'm not so much wanting to draw a legal line, because I would hope that none of us wants to harass anyone, whether it's to the degree we could be legally charged or not.  Or is it ok to harass, as long as it doesn't cross the line legally speaking?

As to asking tough questions, I think it all depends on how and how many times the questions are asked.  For instance, Mary DeMoss in the infamous "Mary Go Round" video, asking repeatedly the way she does, "What are your crimes?" would be considered harassment, by most people's standards (I think).

Quote
As Stutroup points out, our protests are not centered around their beliefs, so much as the gross human rights violations, fraud, and abuse that upper management continues to perpetrate. I personally think we should do whatever we can to cause doubt without violating the rights of Scientology parishioners.

We know that scientology isn't a real church, but what about the uninformed who might pass us on the street?  The ones who only see the sign that says "Church of Scientology" and don't know anything about them other than that?  Or the ones who do know something about them, and still think they are a legitimate church?  Would they see us shouting at a church, and think of us the way we think of the protesters at the mosque?  What about engaging in a "discussion" in angry tones of voice with the scientologist who's been sent out to "handle" us? 

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Offline Sarcasm Pirate

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 23:24 »
The way the First Amendment has always been interpreted to me by Political Science and Law professors is that your freedom of speech ends where another person's begins.  Obviously we are not free to say whatever we wish despite what some people out in the U.S. seem to think.  Actually, you can say whatever you wish but you can't expect to be protected from whatever legal repercussions may incur for your verbal diarrhea.

Speech that insights violence is never protected.  Libel and defamation are not protected and can be prosecuted. What qualifies as those things though? It's honestly open to the interpretation of the legal system.  So much of law is simply how an individual officer of the law/ judge/ prosecutor choose to interpret written law and past precedents that it is both useless and naive to try and guess what the law says in my mind.  The law may say 'aggressive' protesting is illegal but just as you bring up EC, what is aggressive and what is that strict line where if ceases to be peaceful?

Unless local statues spell it out specifically, which given the incompetence and laziness of most elected officials is doubtful, it is up to the individual to make a wise decision on how they wish to present themselves.  I think the past protesting habits of AGP, AO and Sparrow's recent legal trouble are a wonderful example of that.  While Sparrow may not have been doing anything expressly illegal or aggressive, his choice of behavior was obviously questionable enough in the LEO's eyes that he is having charges brought against him.  When dealing with a group who chooses smear campaigning to get their point across it is always best to be vigilant as to how your behavior will be interpreted to the powers to be. :-)

Offline SocialTransparency

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 10:57 »
Really, there is a strict line at the point where a protest ceases being peaceful.

What the group is protesting is Islam itself, and not any abuses committed.  They are blaming all of Islam for what a very small few radicals have done.

What they are doing is not out of any real basis, but is out of hatred and religious bigotry.  Whereas (almost all) the people who protest Scientology are against the abuses, the crimes, the active policies to harass and hurt people, the  group, "Operation Save America" is specifically trying to oppose Islam itself.

Their motives are that Islam does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but rather as a prophet.  That there are some groups which demand violence, although the largest majority do not.  Their only basis is attempting to compare religions to invalidate Islam.

While that does not necessarily make their protesting illegal, it does show that group as a bunch of bigoted, deliberately ill-informed people.



 Very well said!

Offline ethercat

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2010, 11:15 »
The way the First Amendment has always been interpreted to me by Political Science and Law professors is that your freedom of speech ends where another person's begins.  Obviously we are not free to say whatever we wish despite what some people out in the U.S. seem to think.  Actually, you can say whatever you wish but you can't expect to be protected from whatever legal repercussions may incur for your verbal diarrhea.

That has always been my take on it too.

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Speech that insights violence is never protected.  Libel and defamation are not protected and can be prosecuted. What qualifies as those things though?

I have heard, but have no legal qualifications or advice to back it up, that if the statements that might be taken as libel, slander, or defamation are clearly stated as the opinion of the speaker, they are not prosecutable.  I wouldn't recommend relying on that, though, and think it is best to avoid saying things that could be construed as libel, slander, or defamation unless you can back up what you say with something concrete (that is, something more than someone else said so).  If you are speaking as an authority, which any one of us who knows more about the cult than the average person could be considered, I think it behooves you to be even more careful.

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It's honestly open to the interpretation of the legal system.  So much of law is simply how an individual officer of the law/ judge/ prosecutor choose to interpret written law and past precedents that it is both useless and naive to try and guess what the law says in my mind.

I think to some extent, when we act (particularly against a cult known to be vindictive and to use the law as a sledge hammer), we should consider how our actions may be seen by others who include not only judges and prosecutors but also general public, because if charged with something, the general public will be our jury.  In other words, to some extent, we need to guess how the law will be interpreted.  My personal choice is usually to err on the side of caution, and avoid anything close to the line.

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The law may say 'aggressive' protesting is illegal but just as you bring up EC, what is aggressive and what is that strict line where if ceases to be peaceful?

Since no one has to follow my path or instructions, I am just curious where other people draw the line.

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Unless local statues spell it out specifically, which given the incompetence and laziness of most elected officials is doubtful, it is up to the individual to make a wise decision on how they wish to present themselves.  I think the past protesting habits of AGP, AO and Sparrow's recent legal trouble are a wonderful example of that.  While Sparrow may not have been doing anything expressly illegal or aggressive, his choice of behavior was obviously questionable enough in the LEO's eyes that he is having charges brought against him.  When dealing with a group who chooses smear campaigning to get their point across it is always best to be vigilant as to how your behavior will be interpreted to the powers to be. :-)

Bingo!
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Offline Lorelei

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2010, 18:23 »
It is interesting to me how many folks fail to understand The First Amendment. Currently Sarah Palin and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are screaming that Dr. Laura's first amendment rights have been violated because an individual took her to task for inappropriate comments on her radio show (she used the n-word eleven times while talking to a black listener who was already concerned about inappropriate race-related comments made by her white husband and friends and family members).

The first amendment protects you from the GOVERNMENT stifling your freedom to say what you like; it does not protect you from the consequences of your big, fat mouth getting you in hot water or from criticism, nor does it guarantee you the right to be an asshat without being called on the carpet for it.
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Offline mefree

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 18:28 »
Glad to see you back Lorelei.
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Offline ethercat

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2010, 18:49 »
It is interesting to me how many folks fail to understand The First Amendment.

I think that's because some people never actually read it (at least with understanding), and instead rely on what they hear others say about it.  Some only seem to know 3 words of it. 

If you're going to cite something, it's always a good idea to know what it says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


Quote
Currently Sarah Palin and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are screaming that Dr. Laura's first amendment rights have been violated because an individual took her to task for inappropriate comments on her radio show (she used the n-word eleven times while talking to a black listener who was already concerned about inappropriate race-related comments made by her white husband and friends and family members).

The first amendment protects you from the GOVERNMENT stifling your freedom to say what you like; it does not protect you from the consequences of your big, fat mouth getting you in hot water or from criticism, nor does it guarantee you the right to be an asshat without being called on the carpet for it.

Quite right.  It also does not prevent individuals from stifling your speech if they own the venue which you are using to speak.  (For instance, the owner of a radio station who doesn't like what you are broadcasting over his equipment has every right to tell you to shut up and get off his airwaves.)

Hey, Lorelei!   __WB__
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Offline Lorelei

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2010, 21:39 »
Sorry to be away: computer issues + house burglary = me offline.
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in the next generation that the revolution is accomplished." -- Jean d'Alembert

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Offline mefree

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2010, 21:46 »
Yikes! Sorry to hear about that, Lor.
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Offline ethercat

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2010, 09:42 »
Sorry to be away: computer issues + house burglary = me offline.

You weren't home when they came in, were you?  I hope you're ok, other than the obvious trauma of losing your computer and whatever else they took.   {O\O} 

It's good to have you back.   \*/
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Offline SocialTransparency

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Re: Peaceful protest, or harassment?
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2010, 10:24 »
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Currently Sarah Palin and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are screaming that Dr. Laura's first amendment rights have been violated because an individual took her to task for inappropriate comments on her radio show

 Both the above mentioned PAID ENTERTAINERS do not have a factual grasp of the 1ST Amendment IMHO. One (Dr.Laura) stepped WAAY out of line on a PRIVATELY owned syndicated radio program. She ,like it or not is contractually in the employ of that program and must abide by the rules and regulations of the broadcast company. I personally do not buy that she QUIT.

 Sarah Palin? Only god knows what is going on inside this women's head. She to is currently PAID handsomely for her uninformed opinion. To think this women could have been V.P of this country sends shudders down my spine.

 I question my fellow countrymen's thought processes in aligning themselves with the likes of SP. If a large percentage of the populous vote along "BEAUTY and MINDLESS UNINFORMED RHETORIC" how can we expect our fellow countrymen to actually understand and interpret the constitution much less the 1ST Amendment?

 This country would be far better served if we as Americans stopped listening to these PAID entertainers, be they from the left or right of the political or social aisle and educated ourselves in that which our forefathers set forth.

 Funny how many of us rail against a cult, yet put these TOOLS and PAID fools on a pedestal then worship them as defacto speakers of the way the world should be. Sounds cultic to me!