What we can learn about threats to free speech from the incident at the skydiving center

Sharia in action in Florida:

Disabled vet with “Infidel” tattoo forced to leave Florida Skydive Center after Muslims complain

“What kind of America do we live in where someone comes back from war; disabled and decorated… while serving overseas was called an “infidel” for over 2 years, and then get asked to leave an establishment because of a tattoo I have that says just that, because of a culture of people visiting our country, and an American Business with no ethical sense or a backbone for that matter.” What kind of America? A weak, confused, and Sharia-compliant one.

“Disabled Purple Heart veteran, embarassed [sic] at local business,” from Adventures of a Broken Soldier, April 3 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

ACT for America

Free speech and a vet’s tattoo:

What we can learn about threats to free speech from the incident at the skydiving center

by Guy Rodgers,  Executive Director

Wow! So many of you called and emailed the skydiving center at Lake Wales Monday and Tuesday that their voice mail box completely filled up and their phone was constantly busy.

But some of you did get through, and you emailed us regarding what you were told by the center.

Yesterday morning, I decided to call the center myself, because some of what you were told differed with the blog account we posted yesterday. This email is a little longer than normal but I’m persuaded you’ll want to know what I learned.

I talked to two people for more than an hour, one of whom was the manager who handled the incident in question. I asked a lot of questions in order to better understand their perspective on what happened.

Here’s what I was able to confirm.

1) A Qatari military officer complained to someone on the skydiving center staff about the vet who had the tattoo that said “infidel.”

2) The person who received the complaint brought the vet back into the office of the manager, where the three of them met privately.

3) The vet was asked to cover up his tattoo, with duct tape if necessary.

4) The vet refused.

At this point the stories differ. The vet claimed on his blog he was told to leave. The manager claims she never told the vet to leave, that he voluntarily decided to leave and said he would take his business elsewhere.

With no other witnesses it’s impossible to know which version is correct. Perhaps the manager implied to the vet that it would be better if he left. Perhaps the vet misunderstood what the manager was saying.

Someone posted on our Facebook page that he has asked repeatedly if the vet was allowed to “manifest a load,” but has not gotten an answer from the business. His point was that the vet may not have been asked to leave but if he wasn’t allowed to do a jump that amounts to the same thing.

But actually, whether the vet was told to leave or left voluntarily isn’t the issue.

The issue is this: The vet was asked to silence his freedom of speech because a Muslim soldier from another country was “offended.”

I asked the manager if she ever considered going to the Qatari officer and calmly saying something like, “I’m sorry you’re offended, but here in America people say and do things all the time that offend others. And that’s protected speech under our first amendment.”

She said she never talked to the Qatari officer, that “it never got that far.” The reason it didn’t is because the manager’s first—and only—response was to deal with the vet, not talk to the Muslim.

Unfortunately, this is a typical Western response to these kinds of situations. It’s a common way to try to keep peace, and this is a single, small example of a very big problem. Rather than explaining to Muslim immigrants how free speech works, Europeans have practiced this kind of capitulation for decades—and today European countries have hate-speech laws that criminalize words that Muslims deem “offensive.”

I’m assuming the manager meant well, that she was just trying to keep the peace between two customers. I’ve owned businesses so I get that. But the first problem is her solution for keeping the peace was to silence the vet rather than educate the Muslim.

Another thing she said to me, coupled with something the man I talked to said, reveals a second problem that demonstrates why we must aggressively fight to protect our free speech rights.

The manager compared the vet’s tattoo to a member of the KKK taunting a group of African-Americans. She asked, “If that happened here at my business, shouldn’t I step in and stop the KKK person?”

This is the kind of faulty analogy that is at the heart of accusations of “racism” leveled by groups like CAIR. To compare the actions of a KKK member to a vet wearing a tattoo that says “infidel” is not only absurd. It is reinforcing the propaganda and name-calling tactics employed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its legacy organizations to silence anything deemed “offensive” to Islam.

The man I talked to explained to me that one time a Qatari soldier wore a T-shirt that was offensive and that he was asked to remove it, and did so. The man used this as a justification for why the manager asked the vet to cover his tattoo.

I asked him what the shirt said. While I don’t recall the specific wording, it was something to the effect of “What happened to New York shouldn’t have stopped there.”

The meaning was crystal clear: The shirt was glorifying 9/11 and was an implicit support for more terrorist attacks. This was why the Qatari was asked to remove the shirt.

Again, comparing that shirt to an “infidel” tattoo is absurd.

My purpose in writing this today is not to heap more criticism on this business or its manager, or to ask you to continue contacting them. Believe me, the ACT! for America grassroots responded and the skydiving business got the message that people were upset!

My purpose is to point out, using this example, that freedom of speech is in peril here in America, in many ways, both great and small.

The man I talked to claimed the vet was deliberately trying to provoke the Qatari soldiers. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But whether he was or not is pretty much irrelevant. I know for a fact that some people sport tattoos to be deliberately provocative, and even offensive.

Most of us ignore them. Even is someone complains, it’s rare that a business owner will side with the complaint and ask the person with the tattoo to cover it up. Would a business ask someone to cover a tattoo that said “atheist” if a Christian objected? Even if it did, we know what the ACLU would do if the business tried.

I’m sure there are those who would say the Qatari soldiers are guests in our country and we should accommodate them. When it comes to hospitality, I agree.

But when it comes to our fundamental freedoms, I don’t.

I grew up understanding that being a guest meant I had a responsibility to shape my behaviors to fit those of my hosts—not the other way around. In this case, the Qatari soldiers had a responsibility to accommodate our rules and customs—just as they would expect us to accommodate theirs if we were guests in their country.

No doubt there will also be those who read this who will argue we’re making too big a deal of this incident.

There were those who said the same thing in colonial America, that the taxes imposed by Britain on the American colonies were too small to be concerned about.

And it’s true, the initial tax levies were actually pretty small.

But the protestors, men like Sam Adams, said the issue was not the size of the tax but the precedent established by the creation of the tax.

Every time an American surrenders the right of free speech in order to avoid doing something deemed “offensive” by a Muslim, a precedent is established in the mind of both the Muslim and the non-Muslim. This is true when the President does it and it’s true when a business does it.

What we need to do is simply, politely and clearly say “no.” No, we will not give up our rights to express our opinions. We don’t need to be belligerent, obnoxious or combative about it, and we should do so in a way that educates Muslims who don’t understand what free speech means in America.

But silencing ourselves in order to keep peace is to follow the path Europe has already trod. Just ask Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Woolf, our chapter leader in Austria who was convicted of violating “hate speech” laws, how that has worked out.

Yours in defense of freedom,

Guy Rodgers


1. An evening with Rev Muhammed Ibrahim from Nigeria, Australian Christians

2. Europe: Mosque Building Shifts into High Gear, Gatestone Institute

3. “Arab Girls, Jews and Drinking Villagers were the Prime Enemies in Our Midst”, Frontpage Mag.com

4. Rimsha Masih’s Unending Nightmare, Frontpage Mag.com

5. Inside Britain’s Sharia courts, The Telegraph

6. None Dare Call It Islamism, Frontpage Mag

7. Jihad Erupts on Egypt’s Christians, Again, Frontpage Mag

8. U.S. Army Equates Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity with al-Qaeda and Hamas, Frontpage Mag

9. Australia: Muslim From Bosnia Threatened and Plotted Jihad, Including Bushfire Jihad, New English Review

One thought on “What we can learn about threats to free speech from the incident at the skydiving center”

  1. Infidels are offensive to moslems. All non-moslems are infidels.

    To defend a moslem’s right to be offended by one’s own existence by pretending that anyone who proudly resists such slanderous offense by proclaiming themself to be an infidel is similar to the KKK is suicidally insane.

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