Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

at gay pride parade

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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#21  Postby Erin » Apr 05, 2012 8:50 pm

Hmm. I'll try and look up the ruling when I have time later. "Cannot be compelled by the government to include a group" sounds pretty clearly like Pride Fest isn't legally obligated to give Johnson a booth, the opportunity to sell merchandise, a slot as a speaker, etc. But I can't tell from the wording in the article whether or not it allows them to completely ban him from walking through the event on his own and handing out literature.

I don't care for the idea of banning a person from a public event because he handed out books contradicting the event's mission, even if it does decide a court case in favor of a Bible-thumper. That's the point of free speech, isn't it? It protects the rights of idiots to express their opinions in a public forum.

It would be really interesting if Pride Fest made the argument that they banned Johnson because the Bible contains hate speech and incitement to violence.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#22  Postby THWOTH » Apr 05, 2012 9:06 pm

That seem pretty clear Shrunk. ;)
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#23  Postby Weaver » Apr 05, 2012 9:15 pm

The Pride group leases the park for their activities - this completely over-rides any free speech rights Johnson has. They are well within their rights to say that nobody at their events is allowed to hand out materials at the event itself.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#24  Postby Erin » Apr 05, 2012 11:16 pm

Weaver wrote:The Pride group leases the park for their activities - this completely over-rides any free speech rights Johnson has. They are well within their rights to say that nobody at their events is allowed to hand out materials at the event itself.


I checked up on this, and that's not the case. While someone holding an event at the park has to apply for a permit and pay a fee, it doesn't give them property rights. From the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board guidelines:

Unless expressly provided for in the permit, the Use & Event Permit does not grant the permit holder with any property rights to park property including but not limited to possessory rights, and the right to restrict access and use of any member of the general public on park property.


So any law-abiding member of the public can attend. If the event were held in a private location, I would agree with you.

I found the Supreme Court case referred to in the article Brandy linked, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. From what I can tell, it holds that event organizers reserve the right to exclude groups from public demonstrations if the groups impart a message contradictory to the event's purpose. In Hurley, it specifically referred to an organization's right to not allow a group to march in a parade.

It doesn't look like the ruling applies here. Pride Fest can deny Johnson's application for a booth, but they can't prevent him from attending as a citizen. They even acknowledged that he can attend and say whatever he wants to the people there. So presumably they're okay with him quoting the Bible to attendees, but not with him offering the exact same thing in print form. What's the difference?

Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#25  Postby BrandySpears » Apr 06, 2012 1:15 am

Erin wrote:Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:


The city would not be infringing the rights of the atheist to protest by having the atheist behind a buffer-zone. Ex. Shirley Phelps Roper.

The Christian's complaint is that no one will come visit him at his buffer-zone.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#26  Postby Warren Dew » Apr 06, 2012 2:00 am

Shrunk wrote:Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler clarified that anybody, including Johnson, can "walk through the park and say what they want." Belstler said Johnson and other advocates of causes Pride deems inconsistent with their mission are simply banned from handing out materials outside of the "no pride zone," which this year, fittingly, will be renamed the "Minneapolis Park and Recreation area."

So he can wander through the park evangelizing but can't hand out bibles? Sounds a bit weird. Presumably no one is going to take a bible unless they want one.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#27  Postby laklak » Apr 06, 2012 2:05 am

THWOTH wrote:I say let him hand out the Bible. The pages make excellent emergency toilet paper.


Nice rolling paper, too.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#28  Postby Erin » Apr 06, 2012 2:39 am

BrandySpears wrote:
Erin wrote:Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:


The city would not be infringing the rights of the atheist to protest by having the atheist behind a buffer-zone. Ex. Shirley Phelps Roper.


Is that the same thing, though? The hypothetical atheist isn't participating in a protest, but attending a public event and offering free literature. Phelps-Roper pickets funerals, which are private affairs.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#29  Postby quixotecoyote » Apr 06, 2012 6:01 am

Erin wrote:
BrandySpears wrote:
Erin wrote:Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:


The city would not be infringing the rights of the atheist to protest by having the atheist behind a buffer-zone. Ex. Shirley Phelps Roper.


Is that the same thing, though? The hypothetical atheist isn't participating in a protest, but attending a public event and offering free literature.


I think you have to deliberately fail to see the context in order to use that interpretation. He isn't handing out bibles because he thinks these people haven't heard of Christianity.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#30  Postby BrandySpears » Apr 06, 2012 6:26 am

Erin wrote:
BrandySpears wrote:
Erin wrote:Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:


The city would not be infringing the rights of the atheist to protest by having the atheist behind a buffer-zone. Ex. Shirley Phelps Roper.


Is that the same thing, though? The hypothetical atheist isn't participating in a protest, but attending a public event and offering free literature. Phelps-Roper pickets funerals, which are private affairs.


Of course the atheist would be engaged in protest if he was handing out atheist literature at a religious gathering.

The Phelps picket from public property like sidewalks. They got their start picketing public parks known for cruising.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#31  Postby BrandySpears » Apr 06, 2012 6:30 am

I bet the Phelps are watching closely what Federal courts have to say about buffer-zones in this suit.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#32  Postby Shrunk » Apr 06, 2012 12:15 pm

Erin wrote:
Weaver wrote:The Pride group leases the park for their activities - this completely over-rides any free speech rights Johnson has. They are well within their rights to say that nobody at their events is allowed to hand out materials at the event itself.


I checked up on this, and that's not the case. While someone holding an event at the park has to apply for a permit and pay a fee, it doesn't give them property rights. From the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board guidelines:

Unless expressly provided for in the permit, the Use & Event Permit does not grant the permit holder with any property rights to park property including but not limited to possessory rights, and the right to restrict access and use of any member of the general public on park property.


They're not saying he can't enter the park. They're just setting rules of conduct for him while he is in the park participating in their event. I think the Supreme Court's authority supercedes that of the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board, so time permitting I'll try find the actual decision being referenced here.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#33  Postby Erin » Apr 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Erin wrote:
Weaver wrote:The Pride group leases the park for their activities - this completely over-rides any free speech rights Johnson has. They are well within their rights to say that nobody at their events is allowed to hand out materials at the event itself.


I checked up on this, and that's not the case. While someone holding an event at the park has to apply for a permit and pay a fee, it doesn't give them property rights. From the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board guidelines:

Unless expressly provided for in the permit, the Use & Event Permit does not grant the permit holder with any property rights to park property including but not limited to possessory rights, and the right to restrict access and use of any member of the general public on park property.


They're not saying he can't enter the park. They're just setting rules of conduct for him while he is in the park participating in their event. I think the Supreme Court's authority supercedes that of the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board, so time permitting I'll try find the actual decision being referenced here.


I linked to it in this post and explained my position on it.

quixotecoyote wrote:
I think you have to deliberately fail to see the context in order to use that interpretation. He isn't handing out bibles because he thinks these people haven't heard of Christianity.


I know that. My point is he still has the right to do it because he's on public property. As previously pointed out, the event organizers said they have no problem with him attending and saying whatever he wants to to the people there. Why is he allowed to quote the Bible to them, but not offer the same thing to them in print?

BrandySpears wrote:
Of course the atheist would be engaged in protest if he was handing out atheist literature at a religious gathering.


Poor wording on my part. I should have clarified that the atheist is not protesting a private event, but attending one open to the public.

The Phelps picket from public property like sidewalks. They got their start picketing public parks known for cruising.


That's why I draw a distinction between the two. You can picket a private event from public property. Nobody's saying Phelps-Roper's First Amendment rights are being infringed upon because she can't go into private events with Bibles or those ridiculous signs she carries around.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#34  Postby Shrunk » Apr 06, 2012 4:00 pm

Erin wrote:I found the Supreme Court case referred to in the article Brandy linked, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. From what I can tell, it holds that event organizers reserve the right to exclude groups from public demonstrations if the groups impart a message contradictory to the event's purpose. In Hurley, it specifically referred to an organization's right to not allow a group to march in a parade.

It doesn't look like the ruling applies here. Pride Fest can deny Johnson's application for a booth, but they can't prevent him from attending as a citizen. They even acknowledged that he can attend and say whatever he wants to the people there. So presumably they're okay with him quoting the Bible to attendees, but not with him offering the exact same thing in print form. What's the difference?

Look at it the other way: if a religious organization held a public event in the same place with the same type of permit, I'm pretty sure most of us would call bullshit if an atheist was arrested for attending and asking people if they'd like free copies of books by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris.

Unless Religio-nut is violating harassment laws with the manner in which he approaches people, or there's a legal aspect of this case that I'm missing, the law is on his side here. :dunno:


Sorry I overlooked your reference to the SCOTUS case earlier. Here's a quote from the Wiki article:

Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the right to assemble and for groups to determine what message is actually conveyed to the public. Generally, the Court ruled that private organizations, even if they were planning on and had permits for a public demonstration, were permitted to exclude groups if those groups presented a message contrary to the one the organizing group wanted to convey. More specific to the case, however, the Court found that private citizens organizing a public demonstration may not be compelled by the state to include groups who impart a message the organizers do not want to be included in their demonstration, even if such a law had been written with the intent of preventing discrimination....


Justice Souter delivered the unanimous opinion of the court on June 19, 1995. The Court reasoned that, even though the Council did not have a narrow, set message that it was intending to convey, the parade nevertheless constituted a message that the Council had a right to protect. Noting that, while the Council had been fairly lenient in its guidelines for who they chose to allow in their parade, the Court said this did not necessarily mean that the Council waived its right to present its message in a way it saw fit. The right to speak, the Court reasoned, includes the right to determine "what not to say." Of primary concern to the Court was the fact that anyone observing the parade (which regularly gained a large number of spectators) could rationally believe that those involved in the parade were all part of an overriding message the Council was seeking to provide. In this vein, the unanimous Court said that the Council could not statutorily be prohibited from excluding the messages of groups it did not agree with. Effectively, the Council could not be forced to endorse a message against its will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurley_v._ ... _of_Boston


I see it a bit differently from you. As I see it: If Johnson insisted on being allowed to participate as one of the speakers at the rally, clearly they are not compelled to allow him. If he's just attending, walking about the crowd and talking about Jesus to people around him in a spontaneous, non-disruptive way, clearly they can't stop him. If he wanted to set up his own soapbox and start making loud speeches to attendees contrary to the message of the rally, it's not as clear but I'd say again the organizers have the right to stop him. Walking around handing out pamphlets and Bibles? I'd see that as closer to giving a speech than just conversing with other participants, and I'd say the organizers still have the right to stop him in order to preserve the message they intend to convey. His clearly making a deliberate attempt to undermine that message as an active participant in the event, not just voicing his personal reactions and observations to people around him. But I'd agree it's debatable.
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Re: Man sues after being restricted from passing out bibles

#35  Postby Shrunk » Apr 06, 2012 4:03 pm

Erin wrote:That's why I draw a distinction between the two. You can picket a private event from public property. Nobody's saying Phelps-Roper's First Amendment rights are being infringed upon because she can't go into private events with Bibles or those ridiculous signs she carries around.


They have also been required to keep a prescribed distance away from those events, IIRC. eg. They can't just stand on the public sidewalk immediately outside the funeral home and yell at people coming in, even though that is public property.
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