Thursday, May 24, 2007

Distribute a Flyer; Get Charged With a Felony; No Bail

What repressive Third World country is that? Illinois. Professor Volokh points to this astonishing news story:
A 16-year-old Crystal Lake girl facing a felony hate crime charge alleging she and a friend distributed anti-homosexual fliers at her high school must remain locked up until her case goes to trial, a McHenry County judge ruled Tuesday.

Citing concerns over the girl’s home environment and her already lengthy juvenile record, Judge Michael Chmiel denied the girl’s request for home detention. Instead Chmiel ordered her held in the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center while the case is pending.

The girl’s record, Chmiel said, features 13 contacts with police, including an arrest for marijuana possession in August. McHenry County court records show that within the past year the girl also has been charged for driving without a license, consumption of alcohol by a minor, possession of tobacco by a minor, trespassing and three curfew violations.

“I’m concerned about you having some potentially negative influences around you,” Chmiel told her. “I think the environment is ripe for failure.”

The girl’s mother said her daughter had gone through some “rough spots” but had not been a problem in the home for at least a year. She later declined comment on the judge’s decision or the charges.

In part because of Chmiel’s ruling Tuesday, the girl appears to be heading quickly toward a trial, which now is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

She and her 16-year-old friend each face charges of hate crime, disorderly conduct and resisting a peace officer stemming from their arrest May 11 outside Crystal Lake South High School. The charges allege the girls were distributing fliers showing two men kissing and containing inflammatory language toward homosexuals.

Authorities say the fliers were directed specifically toward a male classmate — and neighbor of one of the girls — with whom they had been feuding. Both girls are suspended from school as a result, authorities said Tuesday, and likely will not be allowed back until at least the next school year.
Did you ever think you would see the day when distributing a flyer disapproving of homosexuality--even in an offensive and cruel way--would be a felony? And that bail would be refused? I thought only capital crimes were non-bailable. But what I know? I just read the Constitution:
Amendment I

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.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required
, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I wish it were not so, but increasingly, it appears to be: Freedom of speech. Homosexuality widely accepted. Pick one.

Back in 1960, homosexuals argued that they had a right to do in private what they wished, without fear of being arrested. Most people didn't agree with them, but we were a tolerant enough society that you could at least advocate for that position without fear of arrest. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and those who advocate (sometimes not very politely) that homosexuality is not a good thing do not get to enjoy that same freedom.

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