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thedrifter
04-16-09, 07:40 AM
Camp Lejeune receives "Muzzle Award"
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April 15, 2009 - 2:27 PM
LINDELL KAY

A free speech organization has "honored" Camp Lejeune with a "Muzzle Award" for forcing a civilian employee to remove anti-Islamic bumper stickers from his vehicle.

Each year the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, based in Charlottesville, Va., hands out awards to people and organizations they say violated the spirit of the First Amendment.

When the "winners" were announced earlier this week, Camp Lejeune came in second.

Base officials declined to comment on the dubious honor.

Jesse Nieto, a civilian employee aboard Camp Lejeune for 15 years - who lost his son in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole - placed several bumper stickers on his privately owned vehicle expressing how he feels. The stickers had messages such as "Islam (equals) Terrorism" and a cartoon character of a boy urinating on a picture of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Nieto was asked to remove the stickers because people had complained about them. He sued the base in July 2008.

"The decision to target Nieto's opinions seemed purely content-based and arbitrary, hence Nieto is suing the powers-that-be at Lejeune for their violation of his First Amendment rights," according to the Thomas Jefferson Center's Web site.

Nieto could not be reached for comment.

A prevalent rumor circulating on the Internet is that Nieto was told to remove all of the stickers on his car, including one honoring the memory of the U.S.S. Cole bombing. However, the Base Inspector General ordered only four stickers be removed or Nieto's Department of Defense decal be recalled, according to information from the Equal Employment Opportunity office.

The EEO determined that the four bumper stickers were derogatory to the Islamic faith.



Contact crime reporter Lindell Kay at 910-219-8456. Read Lindell's blog at http://onslowcrime.encblogs.com.

Ellie