Terry Jones and Free Speech

By Lady Arsinoe

Terry Jones has a right to free speech, regardless of how repugnant.  Just as I lauded the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Snyder vs. Phelps, I will stand beside Terry Jones (way far away!) to protect his right to free speech.  Any limitation on his free speech is a limit on my free speech.  The government has no business telling anyone what to say or not to say.  The First Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states:  “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.”  How difficult is that to understand?

This is not to say that there should be no repercussions for the actions of Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center.  Not in the least.  He and his followers need to understand that there are consequences for their actions, regardless of how much they believe they are in the right.  Congress shall make no law, but people can act.  Just as people fought legislated injustice during the Civil Rights Movement, people can fight this injustice.  “There’s only one way to stop me,” Jones told his followers, “and that’s to kill me.”  I don’t ascribe to this line of thinking.  I have a better idea.  Get to ‘Pastor’ Jones where it hurts, in his pocket book.  Boycott his used furniture business out of existence.  Boycott any business associated with him and his hate.  Find out who donates to his brand of ‘Christianity’ and boycott!

This plan is already working:  “During his months out of the spotlight, Jones flew to California to protest the massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt. He also wrestled with a more personal problem: His anti-Islam platform had been great for publicity but bad for church finances.”  Because of his actions, the church’s membership had plummeted (he had only 30 to begin with). So has its income from selling furniture on eBay. The church’s Internet service provider and insurance provider have canceled their services.  Good for them!

I have to wonder what kind of reaction Jone’s deplorable act may engender in the rest of the world?  How will we as a nation react when someone from Pakistan, hoping to cash in on the $2.4M bounty, comes to the US with the intent to kill Terry Jones and/or his family?  I doubt anyone in this country will have the courage to stand up and say the bastard deserved it.  But let’s face it; killing in the name of religion is nothing new, and is never, ever right.  Yes, Terry Jones is to blame for his ignorance and arrogance (a terrifying combination).  The Taliban and radical Muslim leaders are equally to blame for the murder of 20 UN members.  Where does the insanity stop? 

The religious other is under attack here and abroad.  Unfortunately, hatred of the religious other is all too apparent in the United States and the popularity of Islam bashing makes me pause.  It is all too easy to forget one’s own violent past when heaping hatred and blame on another.  Christianity and Judaism have had their share of horrifically violent acts performed by those claiming to be acting in the name of God.  It would take lifetime to list the individual and collective atrocities that have been carried out in the name of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.  Islam has not invented religious violence. 

I won’t say that more people have been killed in religious wars than for other reasons because the numbers don’t add up.  However, religious wars have, and continue to, cause great devastation.  We have an ongoing War on Terror.  Dress it up in patriotism all you want, this is a war between religions—religions that came out of the same philosophy!  Remember, there are three branches of the Abrahamic tradition—Judaism spawned Christianity, as well as Islam.  All trace their roots to the patriarch Abraham.  Family fights are often the most violent because each party has so much at stake. 

The best, most practical, and constitutionally legitimate way to defeat this kind of hatred is through education and discourse.  Religious violence and hatred is due to fear of the other—this fear inflames the incessant need to kill anyone who disagrees with you!  Only when no one is the other, have won the War on Hate.

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Lady Arsinoe’s Bio:

I was initiated into the Wiccan spiritual tradition as a First Degree in 1993.  Over the years, I continued my studies and increased my involvement.  In 2000, the members of OakSpring (www.HouseOfOakSpring.org) separated from Ravenwood to go our own way.  In 2006, I became the High Priestess of OakSpring, with my husband serving as High Priest.  OakSpring is large by Wiccan standards, and has been blessed to own and maintain our covenstead on 38 acres of woodland in the Metro-Atlanta area.

Like most Wiccans, my mundane life is similar to anyone else’s:  I go to work each day (for a large engineering firm), bear with traffic, and go home to relax with my family and pets.  Living a magical life isn’t always about the spells; it’s about living in a way that is harmonious with Nature, the Universe, and ourselves.  I do my best to live in accordance with Wiccan principles every day of my life.  I think that is the best way to show the world what Wicca is all about.

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