When did Freedom of Speech Become Hate Speech?
Outpost of Freedom
June 3, 2015
Jon was born in San Diego County, California in 1983. He was raised in Lakeside and graduated from El Capitan High School. He worked briefly after high school in construction, though having no direction, decided to join the Marines in 2002.
Most of his military service was stateside, though he served a tour in Iraq in 2004-2005. He was a Motor Vehicle Operator (MOS 3531), stationed in Ramadi. He did convoy security and was subjected to gunfire and IED attacks. He returned to Iraq in 2008, this time operating an MRAP, which he lived in “outside the wire”, eating, drinking, sleeping, and living in the MRAP for five months. No showers and the toilet was a “wag bag”.
His time in service included adverse reports due to his criticism of Obama, and having tattoos that were outside of the policy limits. This caused him to not reenlist. He continued in the Marine Reserves until 2014. During his service he received the standard combat awards and a certificate of commendation for one of the actions in which he was involved. It might be worth noting that he was never fired upon by any Christians, throughout either tour.
Jon married in 2007, then, after leaving the Marines, began using his GI benefits to get an education. First, he worked for a Harley-Davidson dealer, then left to set up his own motorcycle repair business, which he ran until the threats that were being put out caused him to look to the safety of his family, which now included daughters 2 and 4 years old.
Jon is much like many thousands of Americans who pursued life, served their country, educated themselves, and began working to support a family, eventually having his own business.
Seeing, as many do, that Muslims are attempting to establish Shariah Courts, impose Shariah law requiring women to be covered, ankle to the top of their heads, Ritzheimer became concerned over the potential effect of Islam in this country. It wasn’t quite enough for any more than concern, but he did remember what he had seen in Iraq. How can freedom of speech be denied, not by government, rather, by the threat of the use of force?
The recent “Draw Mohamed” event in Texas, and the attempt by two Muslims from the Phoenix Muslim Center, to assassinate those who had gathered for the event, hit a nerve. Our right to freedom of speech is unquestionably one of the most important rights that we Americans have. To assert that right, and to show that Americans will not allow intimidation to force us to relinquish even the smallest bit of that right, led him to conceive of the Freedom of Speech Rally. The first Rally, on May 17, getting little attention, and had only a few participants. However, being a Marine (there is no such thing as an ex-Marine); he was determined to get the job done by organizing the second Rally, held this past Friday, May 29.
This Rally brought hundreds to the Mosque, both pro Free Speech and those who mistook the purpose of the Rally, on the other side of the road, to defend Islam.
This second Rally managed to get attention, not only in Phoenix, but nationally. Unfortunately, as the press often does, they “rewrote” the purpose of the rally in an effort to demonize Ritzheimer and try to turn a Freedom of Speech Rally into a “Hate Rally”. Ritzheimer began to fear for his safety, and the safety of his family. He began to question whether this event, at a mosque, would lead a situation similar to that which was attempted in Texas, and was successfully carried out in France. So much for Freedom of Speech and the Press. However, the theme was that we would not be intimidated into not speaking what we want, in our own country.
Ritzheimer admits that the shirt he wore at the Rally, amply stating “F**k Islam” was not in good taste, and he regrets it. He told me that he has a hard time believing that, since there are so many Muslims out there, they can all be bad (prone to accept radicalism). However, his reading of the Koran raises questions, though some Muslims may sincerely believe that we can live in harmony. He also apologizes to all Muslims of the latter sort.
As the attention to the Rally went national, and the press chose to redefine its purpose, Ritzheimer began to fear for his safety, the safety of his family and those attending the event. Questioning whether going to the mosque might subject them to the consequences that were attempted in Texas, and successful in France. Subsequently, he began to encourage the lawful carrying of firearms to the event, as a means of self-defense against any attempt by the Muslims to use force to suppress freedom of speech.
As the event drew near, friends, and even people unknown to Ritzheimer, informed him of the reaction from what appears to be the Muslim community, quite possibly from as far away as ISIS in Iraq is.
Note that the military advised prior service members to use caution, giving credibility on the part of the government, to the implied threat because of messages similar to these:
(Note: SAW (Sallah Allah Alayhi Wa Aaleh) = Peace be upon him and his household.)
As apprehensive as he was at the start of the Rally, he was relieved to see that the police department had done the unexpected. They “Police Line” taped both curb lines to keep the two sides apart, and then stationed their officers along the centerline of Orangewood Avenue, facing the officers in alternating directions, so that neither side was singled out by the neutral police department, who was there only to assure the safety of all concerned.
Though Jon realizes, now, that the Free Speech Rally could easily be misconstrued, regardless of what he intended, he still believes in, and stands for, the right of Americans to speak freely what they feel. Regardless of whether an inverted crucifix in a jar of urine expresses Freedom of Speech, or a carton drawing of Mohammed, Freedom of Speech is essential to the continuation of our great nation. Jon will continue to support that freedom, just as he supported it when he went, willingly, to Iraq to assure the Iraqis had a chance to establish that right.
Jon Ritzheimer is praised for supporting freedom of speech in the Muslim country of Iraq, and then condemned for supporting free speech in the country that sent him to Iraq. Those who have condemned Jon Ritzheimer, by so doing, have condemned the very fabric of our country.