(Photo courtesy of Jonathan Volzke)
Derek Reeve, a San Juan Capistrano City Council member, was criticized after a council meeting on Sept. 6 for stating during the meeting that his dog was named Muhammad.
Reeve, who is also an instructor of political science at Saddleback College, named his dog in reference to the Muslim prophet.
Muslims at the meeting and in the community were offended by the statement since their faith considers dogs to be unclean animals. Those in attendance asked for an apology from Reeve.
At a later meeting on Sept. 20, Mayor Pro Tem, Lawrence Kramer brought up the issue under the subject “Decorum of City Council.”
“I believe that the Council [members] should be held to a higher standard than that of the general members of the public,” Kramer said. “As a City Council member, I support free speech, but there are limits to it imposed by society and there are some common courtesies that I would expect Council members to observe.”
There has been controversy surrounding the topic since the Sept. 6 meeting.
Reeve stands behind the name as a lesson in free speech for his children. The sincerity of this reasoning is contested by a number of media sources.
“Why offend Muslims if you don’t have to? You wanna teach your children about tolerance there are plenty of others way to do it,” said Bill O’Reilly, a national political commentator and host of The O’Reilly Factor.
“We employ Muslim workers, who were offended by the statement, especially in the manner it was delivered,” said San Juan Capistrano Mayor Sam Allevato, speaking to the Capistrano Dispatch.
While no faculty at Saddleback would comment on anything regarding the subject, students on campus were surprised that an instructor would be involved in such a controversial issue.
Shahrzad Shahravesh, 18, child development said, “I don’t think that’s right. I’m Persian and was raised Muslim before I converted to Christianity. I don’t think that’s a right way to present freedom of speech, because people can find it to be very racist.”
While some thought the act was wrong, others felt Reeve had the right to name his dog Muhammad through freedom of speech.
“I think it’s pretty stupid that people are getting worked up over a simple name of a dog,” Kourosh Abascal, 20, political science said. “It’s those kinds of people that make the rest of us have to watch every little thing we say and do.”
Tiffany Hurbe, 21, undecided, said, “Who cares? People are too sensitive and it’s his business [what he names his dog].”
Reeve declined comment on the subject, and has not given a public apology.