His other dog is named “America,” but for some reason I don’t share CAIR’s outrage.
(Patch) — Naming his dog Muhammad, and later announcing it during a public meeting, was not meant to be disparaging to Muslims, San Juan Capistrano Councilman Derek Reeve said Tuesday.
In offering the first explanation of why he chose the name, Reeve said it was a decision made by his family in an exercise of free speech after teaching his children that in some parts of the world they could be sentenced to death for doing so.
Reeve mentioned his dogs’ names Sept. 6 (the other is named America), as the council voted on plans for a dog park in the Northwest Open Space.
Kramer asked the council to discuss its standards of conduct and to rewrite its rules on decorum — requests that went unfulfilled.
Reeve, commenting on the 45-minute discussion that ensued with comments from the public, said, “What’s most offensive [to me] is that we’re not talking about anything important. We’re talking about my damned dog.”
Mayor Sam Allevato also had harsh words for Reeve.
“You have to be really careful about what you say” from the dais, Allevato cautioned. “These types of comments are not acceptable” and could lead to what some could consider a hostile work environment for City Hall employees, he said.
Allevato said a Muslim in the audience during the last City Council meeting was offended by Reeve’s remark. He also said allowing such comments to be made would be a “slippery slope.”
But Karen Lugo, a Riverside attorney who specializes in free speech, said “council members are free to speak in their individual capacity as public leaders.”
“There is just simply no authority” to regulate decorum, she said.
Although stories about Reeve’s comment got picked up by local and national media, Reeve said he received 100 emails supporting him.
On Friday, the Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked Reeve to apologize for his comment. In a press release, it said he showed “disrespect toward Islam’s revered prophet Muhammad by making [the] derisive public comment.”
“I’m asking for decorum on the dais. Yet if we can’t do that, all is lost,” Kramer said, adding that this is “not a Muslim issue.”