Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Should This Guy Be Fired?

September 11th.

While the date will always remain a solemn reminder of an attack on America where thousands of lives were lost, has nine years later morphed into a political agenda for some.

On Saturday, Derek Fenton, a 39-year-old man from Bloomingdale, NJ who had worked for NJ Transit for the last 11 years, staged a protest at the site of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, tearing out and burning pages from the Quran in protest of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

On Monday, Fenton was fired from his job as an assistant train coordinator after photos of his protest appeared in a newspaper. The official word from NJ Transit, through a statement from the agency, is that Mr. Fenton was fired for violating NJ Transit’code of ethics.

While calling the actions of Fenton "self-centered and irresponsible," New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) said that they do not reflect on his ability to do his job.

“We need to keep our heads while others are losing theirs,” said Senator Lesniak. “Mr. Fenton needs a good talking to by community and religious leaders, not a one way ticket to unemployment.”

While it may be political theatre, freedom of speech gives them the right to protest.

Senator Lesniak noted that the first amendment stands as a protection for politically or socially unpopular expressions, even more than it does for popularly-held beliefs. He pointed to the 1989 Supreme Court decision in the case of Texas vs. Johnson, in which Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan wrote, “If there is a bedrock principle of the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

“While we have every right to disagree with intolerant and misguided speech, we have no right to prohibit such speech,” said Senator Lesniak. “Mr. Fenton’s actions were irresponsible, but should be protected under our Constitution.”

1 comment:

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