The story that’s circulating is that “Muslims at a Catholic University are offended the university doesn’t allow them to take down or cover crosses before they pray and claim their human rights are being violated because the university does not provide a special room for Muslims to pray in.”
Or so says Townhall’s Katie Pavlich and a score of other commentators who say that Muslims are suing Catholic University.
Only it isn’t true.
What has really happened is that infamous lawyer John Banzhaf the third has leached onto the body politic once more. Mind you, it’s the third—a number which is greater than one and therefore a number which shows that the Darwinian “Survival of the fittest” does not imply survival of the desirable.
Don’t know Banzhaf? This poster child of narcissism and embarrassment of the legal system is a key reason the profession is held in such low regard. He boasts on his own website that he “files (or threatens) suits about as often as most people change clothes.” His proudest achievement, one he never tires of repeating, is creating a series of vanity license plates containing (in shorthand) a vulgar expression so stupid that it would scarcely amuse a thirteen-year-old.
Banzhaf is one of the perpetually concerned. Especially about toilets. One of his main areas of activities is sniffing around toilets and then filing or threatening to file lawsuits to ensure that these places of relief are labeled in what he considers the proper fashion, or that there are more toilets for women than men.
One of his enemies is Catholic University, a private religious institution. It bothers Banzhaf greatly that CU has “sex-segregated” dormitories. He called this “illegal sex-discrimination” and publicly threatened then filed a complaint.
This farcical performance was not enough for Banzhaf. While Catholic University was back on its heels, or so he presumed, he hit them again. In a poorly-written press release, one so badly constructed that it should give pause to any client seeking Banzhaf’s counsel, he tells the world that he has filed another complaint with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights.
He proudly announces his complaint is 60 pages, thus using mere weight to intimate nefariousness. The basis of his complaint is that the university discriminates “against Muslim students by denying them the same equal access to its facilities.”
Banzhaf is not clear who he is attacking and at one point invokes Georgetown, a university he acknowledges that allows (or will soon allow) Muslims space to pray. In the same sentence which begins with Georgetown, he charges that
usually, or at least frequently, these Muslim students at CUA find that they must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism — e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians, etc. — which many Muslim students find inappropriate and not especially conducive to praying according to their very different religious beliefs. Furthermore, some Muslim students find they must do their meditation in the “school’s chapels and at the cathedral that looms over the entire campus — the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception” — hardly a place where students of a very different religion are likely to feel very comfortable.
Not only is it not clear who is Banzhaf’s target, this quotation is full proof that his legal reasoning is opaque, muddled, and senseless. This display of legal skill is so awful that it is safe to presume that any court of law will send Banzhaf packing.
Ah, but the Office of Human Rights is not a court of law. It is an EU-style entity under the control of the President, and its rules and activities apply only to that tiny blot of land in which our rulers live. It will be enough to tell you that this is an office which announces proudly, “The DC Office of Human Rights Announces Significant Victory for Transgender Community.” The significant victory which our taxes made possible? Passing a requirement “that single-occupancy restrooms must have gender-neutral signs.”
Complaints to the OHR are not lawsuits in the normal sense. Instead, any person might file a claim that asserting they are being put upon. OHR will send a threating letter inviting the accused to “Mediation.” If this fails or if the accused rejects mediation, the OHR investigates the complaint by interrogating witnesses and so forth. There is no jury.
The OHR first seeks a voluntary solution. If none is forthcoming, the OHR will issues fines which “may include compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.” If the accused rejects this, the suit enters the normal legal system as a proper lawsuit in the DC Court of Appeals.
Banzhaf thus specializes in legal end-arounds, using an almost unknown quirk of the system. Even though the OHR rulings apply only to DC denizens, this technique is a way to gain precedents (of a sort). It is just the sort of sneaky, unfair, and underhanded ploy we have come to expect from members of this once-honorable profession.
Update See this by HotAir: it’s not Muslims, it’s Banzhaf.