Tuesday, February 21, 2006

First Amendment no longer applies to veterans

Especially if they're brown-skinned college students.

Khan, a Pakistani-American and a U.S. Air Force veteran, was arrested on September 29, 2005 at a GMU student center after positioning himself several feet from a military recruiting table. He wore a small sign reading “Recruiters Tell Lies” taped to his chest and held leaflets to give to individuals who requested them.

Despite harassment from fellow students, Khan remained quiet. When told by a GMU official that he needed a permit to “table” in the area, Khan responded that he was not using a table, but merely standing quietly and expressing his opinion.

After refusing to move, Khan was handcuffed by campus police, dragged to a police vehicle, and transported to a Fairfax County police facility where he was booked for trespass and disorderly conduct. The ACLU of Virginia provided legal representation, and all charges against Khan were dropped.

“This scenario is almost hard to imagine in a nation built on the principle of free speech,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.

“This was a lone student standing in public space at a state university peaceably expressing his opinion against a government policy,” added Willis. “If that’s not protected by the First Amendment, then one has to wonder what is.”

Nothing is protected anymore. No one is safe.

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