A judge dismissed a case against a gun store owner who displayed a “Muslim-free Zone” sign in his shop, on the grounds that there were no actual injuries sustained. A Muslim advocacy group failed to show that customers had been refused service. The sign itself may or may not be a violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which doesn’t expressly mention non-food or lodging related retail establishments.
It seems that some people will only be happy when we devolve into a bunch of torch-bearing, pitchfork-waving peasants intent on purging the land of the latest in a long line of Faux News, Trumped up (pun intended) villains. This time, sadly, such idiocy has found support from a U.S. District judge in Florida where a gun store owner established court-approved “Muslim-free zone.”
Note: For those readers who may have a problem with the stance I take in this piece, I invite you to substitute “Christian” for “Muslim” and see how that makes you feel.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed a case brought against Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Hallinan put up a “Muslim Free Zone” sign at his shop and posted a YouTube video to that effect. Bloom dismissed the case, finding that Hallinan’s sign was protected First Amendment speech and CAIR couldn’t show that they were injured. The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) defended Hallinan.
David Yerushalmi, Senior Counsel for AFLC said, “This dismissal was yet another AFLC victory against CAIR and its jihad law fare against patriotic Americans across the country. This victory follows on the heels of a recent victory against CAIR in a Michigan federal court where Cairn’s subpoenas were quashed and Cairn’s nefarious client sanctioned for abusive practices.”
Yerushalmi continued, “CAIR was born from a jihad terrorist conspiracy, and it has done little to distance itself from those bona fides. CAIR is on notice: if you attempt to use the courts to conduct your civilization jihad, AFLC will be there to defend law-abiding, patriotic Americans and our nation’s national security. We will match and defeat your civilization jihad with our constitutional law fare in every courtroom across the nation.”
Cairn’s suit alleged religious discrimination under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.
Sadly, CAIR’s suit was somewhat faulty from the start. Oh, the intent was good (this “anti-anyone” rhetoric is divisive and useless), but the really surprising flaw is the law upon which CAIR based its suit. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination in public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Accommodations are defined (in the short form) as places offering lodging or food or other amenities used by interstate travelers.
What’s the problem? Law is not always black and white (pardon the unintended reference); rather, it is often various shades of gray. Imagine my surprise when I discovered while researching this piece that Title II does not expressly apply to retail establishments, such as gun stores. There is, of course, case law that could work toward clarifying this grayness, but nothing of sufficient weight to sway Judge Bloom’s decision-making process. Then, there is the lack of actual injury.
Bloom’s ruling stated that CAIR “insufficiently alleged imminent harm. The complaint contains only bald, conclusory allegations devoid of factual enhancement. There are simply no facts grounding the assertion that [CAIR] and/or one of its constituents will be harmed.”
Fair point. Even 1Ls know that in order to have a complete complaint, the plaintiff must allege a specific injury. The perfect example in this case would be an actual Muslim customer being refused service.
Here’s where things get uglier.
Hallinan’s stated purpose behind the “Muslim-free zone” is refusal to arm a “Paris-type” terrorist. The store has an official, written policy stating that it won’t serve “[a]nyone who is either directly or indirectly associated with terrorism in any way.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make the leap of (il)logic that Hallinan must, therefore, believe that all Muslim’s are terrorists. This is the problem. That noise you hear is sound of pitchforks rattling.
One has only to look to most news sources to find reports of ISIS claiming responsibility for terrorist atrocities. At the same time, one need only look that far to find reports of often-deadly violence perpetrated by white men in the name of Christianity. Here, for your edification, are some examples:
“The Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting. Jim David Adkisson, a devout Christian and anti-abortion right-winger, walked into a Knoxville church on July 27th, 2008, and began firing a shotgun at children who were performing Annie Jr. He killed two and wounded seven, targeting ‘the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country.
The Campaign of Terror Against Abortion Doctors. In 1993, Dr. Richard Gunn was shot dead by an anti-abortion protester. In 1994, Drs. John Britton and James Barrett were shot to death by Reverend Paul Jennings. In 1998, Dr. Barnett Sleipan was shot dead in his home by a Christian terrorist. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot by Scott Roeder in a church. According to the National Abortion Federation, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers since 1977.
The Massacre at Zion Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. On Wednesday, June 17th of this year, a man rose from a pew in the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and opened fire with a .45 caliber pistol, killing nine worshipers, including pastor and State Senator Clementa Pickiney. The shooter has been photographed wearing patches representing the racist apartheid regimes in Southwest Africa, had a Confederate license plate on his vehicle. All signs points to this being a hate crime- not only is it the oldest black church in the South, it was a symbol of resistance against slavery, and a survivor reported that the shooter yelled ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.’ He was a member of a local Lutheran church, yet somehow his baptism didn’t prevent him from gunning down innocent people in a house of worship, defiling a sacred place with hate and murder.”
Any of you who have read my work for long know of my low threshold of tolerance for hypocrisy. In my research, I have yet to see a sign in a gun store window saying, “Christian-free Zone. We won’t support the next church shooting or attack on law-abiding doctors.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 came out of a time when this country was deeply divided over skin color. There were “Whites Only” diners and drinking fountains, as well as laws prohibiting interracial marriages. There are still some places in this country where I, if I were African-American, would be afraid to go alone and it’s 2015. However, we’re working hard to get to a place where such things don’t happen.
Until now. Hallinan and the AFLC, along with Faux News and a handful of GOP presidential wannabes, are doing their best to strengthen another divide. One cannot dispute facts, no matter how inconvenient said facts might be to one’s position.
Fact: ISIS commits acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.
Fact: White men commit acts of terrorism in the name of Christianity.
Fact: Neither religion promotes violence. (Yes, I know there are some violent passages in the Koran. There are equally violent passages in the Holy Bible. The root of both religions is, in fact, peace and love).
Fact: Singling out one cultural/religious group as the root of all evil has been done before. It was called World War II and the Holocaust.
Fact: There were Japanese-American internment camps on U.S. soil during WWII. NOTE: Not Japanese internment camps; Japanese-American internment camps.
At the beginning of this piece, I invited those who may disagree with my views to substitute “Christian” for “Muslim” and pay attention to their feelings. You could also choose to substitute “Black” or “White” or “Female,” etc. for “Muslim.” The end result is the same: the creation of an us-versus-them culture in which no one wins.
These are challenging times, I won’t argue that point. However, cooler heads must prevail or all is lost for all of us. Now is not the time for knee-jerk, ‘Murica! emotional responses and fear-mongering tactics by news outlets. Only through the careful application of logical principals of law can we hope to preserve the peace we all value.
Don’t believe me? I leave you with this parting thought: there’s always another “them” in the us-versus-them game. Once there are firmly established “Muslim-free Zones,” will you be the next target? It was already done earlier this year when numerous businesses went on record as refusing to serve LGBTQ customers. We must always be cognizant of the fact that, when we wish to curtail the rights of one group of people, we are implicitly giving our consent for the curtailment of our own rights.