Thought Police....

John blueoval at SGI.NET
Thu Oct 5 20:07:09 MDT 2000

Article about a women convicted for insulting speach:

        "Recently, Janice Barton encountered a Spanish-speaking couple while
leaving a restaurant in Manistee, Mich. She turned to her mother and said,
"I wish these (ethnic slur) would learn to speak English." An off-duty
deputy sheriff overheard the private remark, followed the woman to her car
and noted her tag number. Janice Barton was sentenced to 45 days in jail
for her thought crime."

        I do not condone the actions of Janice Barton and find them personally
reprehensible, but I find that government interference in the thoughts and
beliefs that someone holds even more reprehensible, and dangerous to us
all. In the old Soviet Union the people had the right of conscience, but
were penalized for speaking and acting upon their beliefs. We have become
what we once stood against. In 1993 (June 30) the Supreme Court of Texas in
declaring the 100-foot "speech free zone" around abortion facilities
violated the Texas Constitution, the Court stated in part:

        "The fact that vigorous debate of public issues in our society may produce
speech considered obnoxious or offensive by some is a necessary cost of
that freedom. Our Constitution calls on this court to maintain a commitment
to expression that is strong and uncompromising for friend and foe alike."

        I agree with the Supreme Court of Texas. There are likely laws on the
books in Manistee County that address public cursing and abusive language,
other than that used to convict Janice. It is obvious that they are
selectively enforced, else the bars would be empty and the jails full.

        After reading the below article, I remain convinced that the motivation
for the conviction of Janice Barton was in the interest of political
correctness, nothing less. How can it be claimed that her speech was
intended to provoke a fight that never occurred, when a passing, albeit
offensive, remark only produced violence against her own freedom? Some
offensive language is tolerated, and some, the politically incorrect, are
prosecuted. It disturbs me greatly that the courts, and law enforcement,
can determine that certain speech was uttered with the "intent" to commit a
crime. This is the legislating of thoughts and beliefs (no matter how
repugnant the thought and belief), and will be used as a springboard to
control all thought and speech not sanctioned by the government and will be
coming to your neighborhood sooner than later.

        Michigan is the state of my birth, and my upbringing. I left the
state in 1977 and have no plans to move back, I cannot live in such a
socialist state. I love Michigan and wish that things were different there.

Following is the complete article from the Manistee News Advocate.
- Tony]

Manistee News Advocate
Manistee Michigan -

Insult conviction stands as judge denies appeal

By Brad Zinn
Advocate Staff Reporter

MANISTEE -- A Manistee woman convicted in 1998 for insulting conduct in a
public place recently had her appeal denied by the 19th Circuit Court.

        "Typical Manistee," said Janice Barton, 44, who stated she was
disappointed by the ruling denying her leave to appeal.

        According to court documents, Barton's problems began in the summer of
1998 when at a local restaurant an off-duty Manistee County Sheriff's
Deputy of Hispanic descent heard Barton say, "I wish these damn spics would
move out of the way."

        When the off-duty officer confronted Barton outside, Barton said, "I wish
you people would just learn English." The officer's father had been asking
his wife, in Spanish, to make room for Barton and her family as they passed
their group when the incident occurred. A warrant for Barton's arrest was
issued in October of 1998.

        During her 1998 trial on the misdemeanor charge, Barton's attorney
contended she was speaking to her mother in a private conversation and
didn't intend for the off-duty officer to hear her comment and argued the
charge should be dismissed. Eighty-fifth District Court Judge Brent
Danielson disagreed and said the words were clearly intended to insult or
provoke a fight.

        "You don't say words like this when someone is present . . . unless you
are either intending to hurt them or injure them," he said during that 1998

        Barton was originally sentenced to 45 days in the Manistee County Jail,
fined $500 and placed on two years probation by Danielson. She was
immediately sent to jail, but three days later the conviction was vacated
and modified to seven days after the court accepted a new plea agreement in
which Barton agreed not to appeal.

        Stating the ordinance in which she was convicted was over broad and vague,
Barton argued her 1st Amendment rights were violated. Circuit Judge James
M. Batzer disagreed. Barton said she is undecided on whether she will
continue pursuing the appeal.

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