|December 17th, 2015|
In 2011 we rented the apartment at 63 Pinckney St #3 in Somerville from a landlord who thought we were witches harassing her with chemicals and radiation:
You need to stop letting the draft in when ever they monitor my footsteps in the bathroom.
I am surprised you see it fit to tell the Handyman that I am locking the back door but you failed to tell him that you are responsible for the locking of the back door at night for your wicked act of opening the door when I am in the bathroom and in the middle of the night to harass me as you do with radiation.
You have tried every wicked way to try to run me out of my God given house and have not succeeded and WILL NEVER SUCCEED IN THE MIGHTY NAME OF JESUS. ALL YOUR EVIL PLANS AGAINST WILL AMOUNT TO NOTHING, in JESUS MIGHTY NAME. AMEN ALL THE CHEMICALS YOU ARE RELEASING TO HARM ME WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING. IN JESUS NAME. I RETURN IT TO SENDER IN THE SPIRIT REALM IN JESUS NAME.
Sometimes she would come up to our door in the middle of the night and pound on it, yelling about how we were evil witches and our wickedness against her would never succeed. Another time she told Julia "I don't want to hear your voice, you wicked witch! You deny and you deny, but you know what you are doing! You didn't have the idea to be out here before, but now I'm here you come out here! You're the chief, you're the chief witch."
On an evening in May, at approximately 9:00, the defendant stood on the stairs outside of [tenant]'s apartment, screaming about "how Muslims are, they should be burned in hell, and how [the] prophet should be burned in hell."And she took it farther by pushing her tenant down a flight of stairs:
Construction workers were preparing to work on the street, and they rang door bells in the area to request that cars on the street be moved. After [tenant] moved her car, she climbed the stairs from the first floor to the second floor, when she was confronted by the defendant at the top of the stairs outside the Defendant's second floor apartment. The defendant yelled at [tenant] for ringing the bell, and [she] explained about the construction work on the street and attempted to avoid further interaction. In response, the Defendant shouted at [tenant] to "get out of my house!" then pushed her as she was at the top of the stairs.What makes this a contraversial news story, though, instead of just a "landlord from hell" is that the judge ordered her to "learn about the Muslim Faith by enrolling and attending an introductory course on Islam" as a condition of her probation. So now there's an appeal: does this violate the first amendment?
[Tenant] fell backward, down the approximately fifteen to twenty stairs toward the first floor. As she fell, she struck her face on the banister, causing a bleeding and swollen lip, which was documented by photographs. Ultimately, she fell all the way to the bottom of the stairs, striking other parts of her body tearing a ligament in her shoulder.
Here, it is clear that there is state action, as the condition is a court-ordered probation requirement, and the defendant would suffer consequences if she failed to complete the requirement. However, the object of the condition is not that she adopt or be discouraged from any religious practice—or even that she attend a Muslim religious service, contrast [1996 cite](prison may not require attendance at Narcotics Anonymous meetings)—but merely that she educate herself; therefore the condition neither advances nor inhibits religion. [2007 cite](drug treatment program required reverence and belief in higher power for successful completion).The appeals court will consider this in January, and I'm curious what they will decide. While I do think this is the kind of thing we should allow as a probation condition, the main problem with the order is that attendance at these classes wouldn't fix the problem. She has a history of tenant harassment:
Judge: I'm looking at her record. It's all in apartment three at 63 Pinckney Street. So in July of 2011, it was [Julia Wise] taking out a [harassment prevention restraining order]. In June of 2012, it was [tenant]. After [tenant] left, new people moved into apartment three.- In October of 2013, [next tenant 1] and [next tenant 2] took out harassment prevention orders against her, and they're still in existence, until September 2014.
(It's actually worse than that: this listing is missing the ones that my housemates and I took out against her. This was a second round, maybe a month after the one Julia got. Update: my memory was wrong here; it was only Julia who had an order and the quoted summary is fine.)
If we had all been Muslim then this might make more sense, but her harassment against us was for being witches  and chances are the tenants who followed this one weren't Muslim either. This isn't the sort of thing an appeals court is likely to overturn the trial judge's decsision on, though, so instead the question is whether she can be made to take classes about another religion.
 We're not, though, in case you were wondering.
- Tracking Down a Statistic: Does Fairtrade Work?
- A Right to Publicy
- Giving vs Doing
- Parenting and Happiness
- Instantiating Arguments