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February 23, 2005

Selectively defining hate

While the outrageous case against the Philly Five was dismissed, what wasn't reported then, was the way in which it was dismissed:

After hearing arguments and reviewing the videotape of the arrests, the Common Pleas judge noted that America is one of the few countries in the world "that protects unpopular speech." She said this means "Nazis can March in Skokie, Illinois" and "the Ku Klux Klan can march where they wish to" since, in the U.S., "we cannot stifle speech because we don't want to hear it, or we don't want to hear it now."

The Philly Five were arrested for quoting the Bible.

"For 18 weeks their life has been in an upheaval," [president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania Diane] Gramley says, "and then the judge who dismisses the charges makes these statements. It's just outrageous as far as I'm concerned, and I would encourage folks to contact her and let her know that her comments were not appreciated."

Gramley feels [Judge Pamela] Dembe's framing comments put the defendants on a par with hate-filled groups and characterized the Christian activists unfairly. "We're very pleased that the judge handed down the decision that she did," the pro-family spokeswoman says, "but we just wish she had not used the words Nazis and KKK in the statement that she made, equating Repent America with those types of hate organizations."

It's bad enough that the judge waited so long to do what she should have done from the beginning, but to equate the Bible with Naziism and racism -- ironic that the defendants were charged under hate crime statute, while the DA and now the Judge displayed were the ones displaying hatred.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 23, 2005 09:48 AM

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