updated 11/29/2004 6:03:21 PM ET 2004-11-29T23:03:21

Guest: Genna Griffith, Lynelle Johnson, Peter Ferrara, Larry Walters, Michael Cibella, De Lacy Davis, Curtis Sliwa, Terry Jeffrey

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)      

ROBERT O‘NEAL, FATHER:  He put a gun in my face and threatened to rape my kid.  I‘m not having it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Vigilante justice, we see it in the movies and on TV, but what happens when the line between fiction and reality is erased in real life? 

Tonight, the story of Robert O‘Neal, a New Jersey father who says he had to take the law into his own hands to defend his daughters, but with deadly consequence.  Is he a hero or a criminal? 

And the ACLU‘s vendetta against the Boy Scouts, because they believe in God and don‘t let gays become Scout masters, it continues.  The latest target of the ACLU obsession, the Pentagon, which lets the Boy Scouts meet on military bases.  America‘s soldiers must stop sponsoring Boy Scout troops, so demands the ACLU.  Why did Rumsfeld‘s Pentagon cave in?  And where is commander in chief Bush in this latest skirmish in the culture wars? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s a story out of the movies.  A man is allegedly robbed at gunpoint by thugs, who he says threatened to assault his teenage daughters.  He takes the law into his own hands and runs over one of the alleged robbers in his SUV.  The result is deadly. 

Let‘s listen to O‘Neal as he told his story to MSNBC‘s Dan Abrams earlier this week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘NEAL:  They followed me home.  As we were coming down the street, I noticed this car was following us slowly.  We live in a very well-to-do neighborhood, a superior court judge lives up the street, the mayor lives around the corner, and I thought nothing of it until my girls got out of the car and they did a slow drive-by. 

Now, as I‘m trying to prepare my girls to go in the house, I hear three car doors slam, and I see these young kids, black hoods on their head, come running around the corner.  They break their stride and they start very loud conversation, cussing and carrying on.  As I go to my car to retrieve my wallet, I turn around. 

One of them is walking around my vehicle to go up the steps to go into my home, home invasion.  I don‘t know you.  What are you doing—to distract me.  Turn around, there‘s a gun in my face, give it up or we‘re going to kill you and rape your girls.  I gave them what they wanted.  They break, trying to see what I‘ve given them.  Well actually, they rifled my pockets. 

As I go around my vehicle, they hear my miniature Dobermans in the house barking.  They think the dogs are coming out, they run.  I holler to my daughter, Ashley, call the police, I just got robbed at gunpoint.  I have no idea who they are.  I think they have a car parked around the corner.  I‘m going to get a license tag to give to the police so these guys can be arrested. 

I think the cell phone is in the car.  It wasn‘t in the car.  Unfortunately, I followed these guys, tried to get a license tag number, and they started shooting at me.  I had no intentions of hurting anybody.  My only...

DAN ABRAMS, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT:  So you‘re following these guys and they‘re shooting their gun at you? 

O‘NEAL:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  And then you, what, try to sort of protect yourself by running them off the road or...

O‘NEAL:  No, I ducked under the dashboard.  I mean, when I saw the back windshield disintegrate, I ducked under the dashboard.  I knew they were shooting at me because I saw a silver handgun hit the window, and the next thing I knew something hit my car.  I was under the dashboard.  And as they continued around the corner, my vehicle followed them. 

I was trying to get the tag number so that the police could be summoned.  I knew somebody had to see because we were in front of a Sunoco.  I knew they would call the police.  I was hoping that aid would come right away.  The Trenton police force is pretty good.  They were right there in the nick of time in order to try to, well...

ABRAMS:  So you didn‘t even know at this point that you‘d run over one of the guys who was shooting at you? 

O‘NEAL:  Absolutely not.  My vehicle was out of control the second time my vehicle—when they went out of control, my vehicle struck theirs.  Both vehicles were out of control.  The next thing I knew I was in the air.  My vehicle almost turned over.  It did a 180, went back up the street, into the island, across the road, and I slowed to a stop. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Now, is Robert O‘Neal a hero who acted in self-defense or a vigilante who should go to jail? 

Here to discuss this fascinating case are Curtis Sliwa, president and founder of The Guardian Angels and a radio talk show host, De Lacy Davis, a New Jersey police officer and a founder of Black Cops Against Police Brutality, and Terry Jeffrey from “Human Events.”

De Lacy, let me start with you. 

Hearing what you heard, has this man done anything wrong, or has he done what is right to defend his daughters and run down a couple or four thugs who robbed him at gunpoint and threatened to rape his girls? 

DE LACY DAVIS, FOUNDER, BLACK COPS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY:  Well, certainly, as a father of two daughters, I understand how he feels, but as a police officer, the law in New Jersey does not allow you to practice vigilante justice. 

In fact, the law in New Jersey says for a civilian that you must retreat, Certainly once your life is no longer in danger.  If he was in his home, it would be a different scenario.  He cannot run them down, pursue them, and then run them over.  I‘ve heard the scenario.  However, my affiliates and my members of Black Cops Against Police Brutality in Trenton are still investigating and taking a look at it.  We‘re not sure that those are all of the facts of the case as it stands. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, De Lacy, knowing just what you know, do you believe Mr.  O‘Neal should be prosecuted? 

DAVIS:  Knowing what I know, I believe that there are still some missing pieces to the puzzle and, certainly, I am not prepared at this time to say that he should be prosecuted.  But I do know that he has gone beyond what the law says for a citizen in the state of New Jersey, and that is that, if his life was immediately under attack, well, he has a right to defend himself. 

But the moment he gets into his car to pursue them, even though he says he is going to look for a license plate, he is now moving into a gray area and certainly he may have some culpability on his hands as it relates to someone now being dead. 

BUCHANAN:  Curtis Sliwa, did O‘Neal go too far? 

CURTIS SLIWA, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Absolutely not. 

He deserves the state‘s highest commendation for achievement by a citizen.  I say high-five the guy right here.  You know, if he had turned the other three guys into speed bumps also, he‘d have been saving society $35,000 a year, because we would have had to give them three hots and a cot, free trips to the law library, free use of the freeways. 

This guy is a hero.  Why should he even be under the electron microscope?  These four guys put guns to his head and threatened to rape his daughters.  What happens if they would have come back another time because they would had thought he was feckless and weak? 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Curtis, you know that‘s not the facts of the case.  You just heard the man.  The reality is not what if.  They didn‘t rape his daughter.  They didn‘t kill him.  And they were running away, just like a police officer cannot fire when you‘re running away.  He‘s not a hero at this stage of the game.  And especially when I know you‘re advocating his position, I have to know he is not a hero. 

SLIWA:  Oh, excuse me. 

You mean to tell me an unarmed individual defending himself, defending his daughters, defending his property against four enemies society and you as a police officer are not even giving him the benefit of the doubt when you can see this is a business person?  This is a single father raising two children, tells from you the heart exactly what he was doing, pursuing these suspects, trying to get a tag number and in the interim turns one of them into room temperature.  What‘s wrong with that? 

DAVIS:  Curtis, we‘re not going to have a class struggle and a struggle about class in this conversation.  The reality is that the legislature has made it clear in the state of New Jersey that you as a civilian do not have the right to advance. 

The law requires that you retreat.  Only police officers can meet force with force and advance.  He is not a police officer and neither are you. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Well, I should wave the white flag. 

BUCHANAN:  Hold it, both gentlemen.

Terry Jeffrey, is there a moral law that‘s higher than the legal law?  Here is a man who is robbed.  His little girls are threatened.  The guy walks to the door.  And these thugs take off.  They have got his money and credit card.  He acts as a man and a human being and says, I‘m going after them, chase them down, get their license.  He rolls over one of them after they‘ve shot his car twice. 

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”:  Yes, there‘s no doubt, Pat.

There is an underlying moral principle here.  It is, every person has a right to protect themselves, their lives, their family, their property.  Given the story that Mr. O‘Neal told, taking those facts on their face, I don‘t see how the state, the police, or anybody else could have asked him to act differently, because, if they had, they‘d have been saying that a citizen has a duty to be a supine victim of a potentially violent criminal. 

I would go so far, Pat, to say, although the way he described it, it was an accident, he didn‘t intend to kill this guy, if someone is shooting at him and his car with a gun, in order to defend himself, he runs that man down, I would say that is a legitimate act of self-defense. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, De Lacy, let me ask you two questions.  One, Terry‘s point.  If he is being shot at by this character when he‘s driving around trying to get his license, it seems to me to be legitimate self-defense if he rammed the guy directly. 

And, secondly, tell me as a man—you weren‘t a cop, say, and they did this to you and you had daughters and they threatened them, as a man, wouldn‘t you say, I‘m going after those guys myself?  Would that be morally wrong? 

DAVIS:  Your question implies that I‘m not a man. 

Let me say this first.  I am a black man in America first and foremost.  And the social reality is that we cannot allow communities to impose justice, because we know 30 short years ago black people in general didn‘t get justice from the community morally.  We thought slavery was a moral justice and it took us 100 years to get it overturned.  So I can‘t move into that.

I happen to be a police officer who understands the law in the state of New Jersey.  And it doesn‘t make room for you to moralize what you think the law should be.  The judge is the trier of the facts.  And the social reality is that, yes, it is a threat, but you can retreat. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  We got it. 

Curtis Sliwa, if that—what Terry said, it seems to me, is right.  If you‘re following a guy to get his driver‘s license after he has committed a robbery, and you run him down when he is shooting at you, that is a legitimate act of self-defense, A. 

B, is there anything wrong morally in your judgment what this man did? 

I don‘t care what the law of New Jersey says. 

SLIWA:  Well, this is another difference between blue state New Jersey and red states like Texas, where, quite frankly, law enforcement would be giving you tactical air support if you took off after the criminal. 

In my state of New York and New Jersey and some other blue states, forget it.  The benefit of the doubt is with the criminal, not with the person who is the victim.  You are supposed to be a feckless, weak, fold-like-a-cheap-camera victim, who stays in your little place and doesn‘t fight back at all.

And God forbid you actually pursue the individual and try to get a license plate number, which is assisting law enforcement. 

DAVIS:  Curtis, you‘re supposed to abide by the law.

SLIWA:  Then, all of a sudden, you‘re being scrutinized.  This guy was being fired at.  I don‘t care if he took his vehicle and he rammed it head on and killed all four of these people. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Curtis, he injected himself into a scenario that he didn‘t have to be in.  He had the option of going into the home and calling the police. 

JEFFREY:  Pat...

BUCHANAN:  All right, hold it.  Hold it.

De Lacy, Terry, he had the option of running into his house and calling the cops, rather than behaving like a man and running down and getting this guy‘s license and chasing him down. 

JEFFREY:  If he had run into his house and called...

DAVIS:  You‘re assuming that‘s manly behavior. 

JEFFREY:  Listen, I think those of us who have lived in or around big cities and know the nature of violent crime, you suspect, if he had gone into his house and called the cops, these guys are gone.  They‘re gone for good.  He didn‘t know who they were.  I don‘t know the law in New Jersey, Pat. 

But if the law says a father in that situation can‘t get in his car and chase these guys simply to find out the license plate number on their car, so that police can track them down and hold them accountable, that is a ridiculous law, absolutely, completely ridiculous law. 

BUCHANAN:  De Lacy.

DAVIS:  Terry, it is obvious that you don‘t know the law in New Jersey and it‘s obvious that you don‘t live in a big city. 

I live in the city of New Jersey.  I am a 19-year veteran.  And the social reality is that you can‘t impose your moral authority on people in the law to get justice.  It‘s unacceptable.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  Sir, the question is, could this father have got in his car simply for the purpose of identifying the license plate number of a vehicle that was carrying criminals and had just committed a crime against him and threatened a crime against his daughter? 

Now, maybe you‘re right about the law in New Jersey, but do you think the law in New Jersey ought to say he could not attempt to identify his assailants, that that is a logical and just law? 

DAVIS:  That‘s why police officers do investigations.  We have lineups and we do interviews and we call you in.  And the police go and get that information. 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  How would you know who these men were if he hadn‘t tried to track them?  How would you know who these men were had he not tried to get their license plate number, at least?  How would you ever know who they were?

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Are you going to let me answer?

BUCHANAN:  Go ahead, De Lacy.

DAVIS:  The reality is that we may believe—there may be some information that some people knew who they were before this crime was committed.  That is why there is an ongoing investigation. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Hold it.  OK.

Now, De Lacy, I think you may have a point there.

And we‘re going to take that point up when we come back.  All of you, hold it.  And we‘re going to continue the discussion. 

Bernie Goetz, the subway vigilante, delivered street justice two decades ago and only got a slap on the wrist.  What should Robert O‘Neal expect?

And during this holiday season, you my be wondering how you can help our heroes overseas.  We‘ll talk to some young women who have made it their life‘s work.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Charles Bronson, Bernie Goetz and now Robert O‘Neal.  Should American vigilantes be celebrated or are they as bad as the criminals they punish? 

Stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “DEATH WISH”)

CHARLES BRONSON, ACTOR:  Any chance of catching these men?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  There‘s a chance, sure.

BRONSON:  Just a chance?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I‘d be less than honest if I gave you more hope, Mr. Kersey.  In the city, that‘s the way it is. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

That was a scene from “Death Wish,” starring Charles Bronson as the victim of a brutal attack on his wife and daughter. 

We‘re back with our panel discussing a recent case that has similarities to that Hollywood film. 

And we‘re also joined by defense attorney Michael Cibella. 

Let me go to you, Curtis.

I think De Lacy Davis makes a couple of good points here.  Terry and I have been talking.  And I find puzzling that this Mr. O‘Neal apparently had $1, 500 in his pocket.  It was taken, as well as his credit cards.  And most of us don‘t carry that kind of money around.  And, secondly, these fellows had on masks, and I wonder if there is a possibility that Mr.  O‘Neal might have known who his—or suspected exactly who his assailants were here.  And maybe this does need some more investigation. 

SLIWA:  Well, you can investigate it all you like, but let me tell you something.  Young guys come up with hoodies around their head covering their facial features, you can‘t clearly identify them. 

And if you‘re anticipating that other neighbors on a quiet tree-lined block—you already described the kind of neighborhood that he was living in—are going to be able to pick up on their I.D., you could wait a month of Sundays before they ever get booked and ever spend any time in jail.  He did exactly the right thing.  He told his daughters, lock yourself in.  Call 911.  Call the police.  I‘m going to follow them.  I‘m going to try to get a license plate number. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Now, why are we even questioning the integrity of a hardworking, single father raising two kids...

BUCHANAN:  I‘m not questioning...

SLIWA:  ... in a well-to-do neighborhood that doesn‘t normally have these kinds of crimes? 

DAVIS:  You‘re rewriting the movie.

BUCHANAN:  Curtis, I‘m not raising questions about his integrity.  I‘m just raising questions that come naturally to me, because how did these guys know he‘d have $1,500 in his pocket and risk themselves, frankly, a 20-year stretch in prison, you know?  If they hit me, they‘d get 20 bucks. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Pat, they‘re in the neighborhood. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  The mayor lives on the corner.  A judge lives on the corner.  It‘s what you call a neighborhood with a lot of mulish moolah.  They know people have money there.  That‘s why they stick up people there. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Curtis, your racism is coming through.

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Excuse me.  The guys who thugged up this brother were black kids.  You fail to mention that, De Lacy.  These are four black thugs robbing an older black man. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Curtis, you can loud talk me.  He never said that he told his daughters, lock yourself in.  He never said that.

You‘re rewriting the story based upon your own bias about black men in America.  You need to address your issues, Curtis. 

SLIWA:  Excuse me, De Lacy.  This victim was black.  Look at his color. 

DAVIS:  It doesn‘t matter.  I‘m talking about your bias.

SLIWA:  He was stuck up by four young blacks.  They were predators. 

They were enemies of society.  And he did what he had to do. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Curtis, they‘re enemies of Curtis Sliwa and those who think like you.  They‘re not enemies of mine until they‘re proven guilty.  In this society, you‘re innocent until proven guilty. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Invite them into your neighborhood.  Let them thug you up. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, gentlemen, let me get Mr. Cibella. 

Mr. Cibella.

MICHAEL CIBELLA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  From what you‘ve heard about this incident, what Mr. O‘Neal said, and the points we‘ve just raised, is there any way that they could conceivably prosecute Mr. O‘Neal if he is telling us the exact truth about what happened?  It doesn‘t seem to me he did anything wrong and he did everything right. 

CIBELLA:  Well, I think certainly that they could prosecute him.  I think De Lacy makes a good point talking about self-defense and that‘s ultimately—well, that is what everyone has been talking about so far.  This is considered self-defense. 

And here the immediate danger had ended when these four individuals took off in their car.  Now, I know Mr. O‘Neal has said that he then pursued them to try to get a license plate number.  And they began shooting at him.  However, he already knew at that point that they had a gun and it was conceivable they might fire that gun at him. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

CIBELLA:  And to say that he is putting himself into a position where he then can create self-defense for himself again, I think, would be difficult to sustain. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Hold it. 

Let me bring Terry Jeffrey.

Again, there is nothing wrong with following a guy to get their license.  That‘s a brave thing to do.  And if they‘re firing at you, twice at your SUV, you ought to ram their Chrysler and when they get out, run them down. 

JEFFREY:  Pat, listen to what they‘re saying. 

Assuming the facts are as we‘ve been told and assuming the New Jersey law is as we‘ve been told—I don‘t know—what they‘re essentially saying is, once this man has been robbed by armed men in front of his own house, that he then has an obligation to retreat.  He can‘t get in his car and go out on the street anymore. 

For how long does this guy have to stay inside his house cowering and not go out in the street in his own hometown on the prospect that he may get the license plate number of the guy who assaulted him? 

DAVIS:  That‘s not what is being said. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  That‘s right. 

Mr. Cibella, this sounds preposterous, the demand that is being made on this fellow, O‘Neal, who has been robbed of $1,500.  His girls have been threatened with rape.  These thugs are using this filthy language on him.  They take off laughing.  He gets in his truck and goes down, tries to get their license.  And you‘re telling me—and they fire at him, and you‘re telling me he should turn around and run home?  Otherwise, he can be prosecuted? 

CIBELLA:  I‘m saying—the question was whether or not he could be prosecuted. 

Ultimately, whether or not the prosecutor could obtain a conviction I think is a very different question.  I believe here, the facts of the case, if the prosecutor wishes to bring charges or feels that charges are warranted, I think the facts as we know them so far would be a basis for charges here.  What De Lacy is saying is that the law doesn‘t condone vigilantism, that...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  This is not—with due respect, Mr. Cibella, this is not vigilantism. 

DAVIS:  Yes, it is.

BUCHANAN:  This guy is a victim of a crime.  He‘s going to get information to identify the criminals to the cops.  They‘re firing at him while he‘s getting the information. 

CIBELLA:  I agree with...

BUCHANAN:  And so he is in an OK Corral situation.  And he has got a Dodge Durango and he uses it. 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  Can I say something?  If these guys are right about what the New Jersey law demands of Mr. O‘Neal...

DAVIS:  What do you mean if they‘re right? 

JEFFREY:  After he‘s been the victim of a crime, what I‘m interested is, is how much freedom does this guy lose from the state after he has lost his freedom to armed assailants? 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  What does the government demand that this guy do?  How much freedom does he surrender on the driveway of his house after he has been the victim of a crime?  Does he have to run inside?  Should he lay down on the ground?  Can he actually get in his car or can he not get in his car? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let De Lacy answer.

De Lacy, go ahead. 

DAVIS:  First of all, let‘s be real clear.  You‘re talking to a police officer and an attorney, and you‘re having difficulty with the law, talking about let‘s assume that it‘s right.  It is right.  We‘re telling you that.  So why don‘t you take a back seat to those of us who know what—this is what you do. 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  Tell me what he has to do, De Lacy?  What, does he have to run into his house and lock the door?  Can he stand on the street in front of his house? 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  Could he walk down the street in front of his house?  How supine does he need to be?

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, let‘s hear Curtis for a second. 

SLIWA:  Let‘s be very clear. 

If this were Arizona, Missouri, Texas, Florida, the governor would be presenting Mr. O‘Neal with the highest award for the state for fighting back and defending his property, his daughters and himself. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  But in New Jersey and in New York and Pennsylvania, we defend the rights of the criminals. 

DAVIS:  If you were in Arizona, Florida or Texas, you might not exist.

BUCHANAN:  You know, De Lacy, if this the law. 

DAVIS:  Curtis...

BUCHANAN:  If what we know is true and what you‘re saying is exactly the law and this guy who has done this is subject to prosecution, something is wrong in the state of New Jersey. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Very, very wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  The reality is that he placed himself in harm‘s way when he got in the car and followed them.  He placed himself in harm‘s way.  He had options. 

BUCHANAN:  What do you mean?  Why does he place himself in harm‘s way illegally when he is simply following four criminals who have robbed him and threatened to rape his daughters?  Why is that doing something illegal? 

(CROSSTALK)

CIBELLA:  Because had a pedestrian, had an innocent bystander been hit when he was driving down the road, it would be a very different discussion we‘d be having right now. 

What happened in this case is that one of the perpetrators had been run down.  But as he is chasing these people and shots are being fired in the street, it could have been very foreseeable that a bystander waiting across the street or in that Sunoco station could have been hit.  And then I don‘t know if we would be saying this was self-defense. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you, Mr. Cibella.

If one of these thugs firing at his SUV shot and killed a bystander, you‘re telling me Mr. O‘Neal would be at fault? 

(CROSSTALK)

CIBELLA:  No.  What I‘m saying is, if Mr. O‘Neal had run down a bystander as he was chasing after these people...

BUCHANAN:  He didn‘t.

CIBELLA:  ... instead of calling the police, it would be a very different discussion we would be having. 

BUCHANAN:  I agree with you.  That is not what happened. 

CIBELLA:  It just so happens to be that he ran down one of the perpetrators accidentally, from what he said. 

What I‘m saying is that he can be prosecuted.  Ultimately, can a prosecutor get a conviction?  I think it is going to be very difficult, because there are points of view out there, like Curtis‘s point of view and like Terry‘s. 

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

CIBELLA:  That believe that this person was defending himself. 

But can a prosecutor bring charges against him?  I believe absolutely.  Whether he‘ll be successful in obtaining a conviction is a very different story. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.

CIBELLA:  And I think a lot needs to be learned before we can jump to a conclusion as to whether or not he‘ll be convicted.  But can he be charged?  I believe, yes, he can. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, we‘ll be back with more of this debate. 

And then the Pentagon sides with the ACLU against the Boy Scouts. 

And we‘ll tell you how you can help our troops this holiday season, so stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  What should you do if your family is attacked by armed thugs?  We‘ll discuss that next.   

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O‘NEAL:  I had no identification on these perpetrators.  In order for the police to do their job, a citizen has to protect himself and get the information so that the police can do their job.  They had gotten clean away and probably come back when I‘m not home and do what they said they were going to do to my daughters. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

What should the average citizen do if he finds himself the victim of a humiliating crime?  Is it appropriate to take the law in your own hands, as Robert O‘Neal did when his daughters were allegedly threatened? 

We‘re back with our panel.  And that includes De Lacy—let me get the names down here—we have got De Lacy Davis, Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels, Terry Jeffrey and Mr. Cibella, our attorney. 

Let me go to you, De Lacy, once again.

BUCHANAN:  Let me ask you this.  If O‘Neal had done everything that he did, pursued those fellows, he was shot at and he did not run over the individual, but he did get their license number, would you be here denouncing him? 

DAVIS:  I am not denouncing him.  I don‘t know Mr. O‘Neal.  He probably is a fine gentleman.  I‘m not denouncing him.  I‘m speaking to the issues as it relates to the law in New Jersey and as a police officer. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Would you be criticizing him if he followed these guys closely and they had not got out of their Chrysler and he did not run over one of them, but let‘s say he bumped their van, but got their license, stopped, and called you and had not run over someone?  Would you then applaud what he did? 

DAVIS:  I would not. 

I‘d tell him it is a very foolish act because the courts in this state use the standard of a reasonable person, and that is unreasonable.  I teach community policing to community groups and tenet associations.  And we tell them that you can be eyes and ears, but you should not get engages in combating and fighting with criminals.  It is dangerous. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Terry Jeffrey.

JEFFREY:  Now, if the law says he can be eyes and ears, it seems to me his eyes and ears ought to be able to get into his Dodge Durango and follow that car, so he gets the license plate so you can identify this guy, Pat.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Terry, unfortunately, you have the same fever that Curtis has. 

You‘re twisting what you‘re hearing to satisfy your argument. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  I didn‘t say that the law says.  I said that I teach.  There is a difference, Terry. 

JEFFREY:  Let me ask you, sir.  Are you saying, actually, that this is a law in New Jersey that says, if this guy, having been accosted by armed men on his own driveway, gets back into his car and drives down the street at the speed limit that, at that moment, he is violating the law of New Jersey because, having been robbed, he no longer has the right to get in his car and drive down the street?  Is that the fact?

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Let me answer you.

BUCHANAN:  Mr. Cibella, you answer that one, please. 

CIBELLA:  Well, I don‘t think that he would be charged for something like that.  The law holds you responsible. 

JEFFREY:  Is it illegal?

CIBELLA:  Is that illegal?  Would driving down the street at the speed limit...

JEFFREY:  After he has been robbed.

CIBELLA:  At the speed limit after he has been robbed?  Sure.  That‘s not illegal. 

JEFFREY:  It‘s legal for him to get in the car.  Now, once he is in the car, does he have a right to look at the license plate of the person who... 

CIBELLA:  It is not illegal for him to look at the license plate. 

It‘s not illegal for him to get in the car. 

What the law does is hold him responsible for the results of his actions.  And if he or she gets in the car, pursues in a high-speed chase and someone is injured by that, he can—he can be held responsible. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  OK, Mr. Cibella, let‘s take this. 

All right, he‘s doing everything legal.  He‘s following this guy in his car to get the license.  He is approaching him.  And they start firing on him.  He then is not allowed to ram that car? 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  No, he is not, Pat.  The police aren‘t allowed to ram that car.

(CROSSTALK)

CIBELLA:  I don‘t think that‘s what happened here. 

What happened, he knew that they had a weapon.  By chasing after them, it is perceivable that they might fire that weapon at him.  And then, at that point, to claim self-defense, it would be difficult.  Ultimately, can he be convicted for that?  I don‘t think so. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Curtis Sliwa, as I understand it, Mr. O‘Neal is at fault because he knew they had a weapon and it might be loaded and therefore they might shoot at him if he followed them in his SUV and tried to get his license. 

SLIWA:  I think now you understand why so many people leave New Jersey, because how many times...

DAVIS:  Did you leave yet, Curtis? 

SLIWA:  ... is the deck stacked against the people who are the victims of crime? 

Do you know, in the state of Florida, people have gone on high-speed chases where they have followed thugs from county to county, fired on them with their own handguns, eventually bagged one of the culprits and nothing has happened to them, other than getting recognized by the local police department?

In New Jersey, you understand what they‘re saying, Pat?  They‘re going to prosecute this guy. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Even if they think they can‘t get a jury that would find him guilty, they‘re going to make an example him for actually defending his rights. 

BUCHANAN:  Curtis, I cannot believe any prosecutor who wants to have a career, if the facts as we have been told them are true, would dare to prosecute this guy for that.  My guess is, this guy is going to be, if the facts are true, this guy is going to be a hero out there. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  But the facts haven‘t been determined yet, Pat.  The facts have not been determined. 

(CROSSTALK)

SLIWA:  Pat, O‘Neal is the hero, but the prosecutor will prosecute this case.  They‘ve done it in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey.  They‘re blue states, Pat.  Don‘t you understand? 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Well, they did prosecute Bernie Goetz, but some guy just threatened him with a screwdriver and he shot four guys. 

DAVIS:  Thank God that the South lost the war. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, we wouldn‘t lose it the next time out, De Lacy.  Bush got all the red states and he won. 

(LAUGHTER)

SLIWA:  Oh, boy. 

BUCHANAN:  Mr. Cibella, tell us what you think is going to happen, quickly. 

CIBELLA:  Well, I think they‘re still investigating this.  Ultimately, it would be interesting to find out if there is any connection made between him and these perpetrators. 

I don‘t know what action they‘re going to take.  I do believe it is going to be extremely difficult to convict him.  Ultimately, here, I think it is not so much a matter of self-defense, but more a matter of whether he snapped, whether temporary insanity, whether he was thinking clearly when he chased after them. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He may not have been thinking clearly and he may be thinking with adrenalin, but that was—from what I see, that is a heroic guy.  I‘ll tell you that.

CIBELLA:  Right.  And I don‘t...

BUCHANAN:  And I‘d contribute to his defense fund, frankly. 

Anyhow, thank you very much, all four of you gentlemen, Terry Jeffrey, De Lacy Davis, Mr. Cibella and Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels. 

Coming up on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, brawling athletes grabbed headlines all week.  If you think they‘re taking ink and airtime away from America‘s real heroes, then you belong in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We agree.  Stick around. 

First, the ACLU goes after the Boy Scouts.  You won‘t believe whose side the Pentagon is on.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  What has typically been the busiest shopping day in recent years?  Is it, A, the day after Thanksgiving, B, the Saturday before Christmas, or, C, the day before Christmas?  The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked, what has typically been the busiest shopping day in recent years?  The answer is B.  Despite the popular myth, in recent years, the day after Thanksgiving is generally ranked as only the fourth or fifth busiest shopping day of the year.

Now back to Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

The ACLU wants to purge God from America‘s public square.  And now they have the Boy Scouts as public enemy No. 1.  In their latest assault, they targeted not only the Boy Scouts, but also the Department of Defense, accusing the Pentagon of condoning religious bigotry by supporting the Boy Scouts. 

Last week, the Pentagon caved in to the ACLU and now military bases worldwide can no longer sponsor Boy Scout troops. 

Joining me now, Larry Walters, a First Amendment attorney who chairs the legal panel of the ACLU central chapter, and Peter Ferrara, executive director of the American Civil Rights Union and the Scouting Legal Defense Fund. 

Larry Walters, what is the source of this ACLU vendetta against the Boy Scouts, simply because they believe in God and they don‘t think it‘s an idea to have homosexuals be Scout masters taking kids for overnight trips?

LARRY WALTERS, FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY:  Well, the source of the lawsuit is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which imposes a separation of church and state.  This is not a suit against the Boy Scouts.  This is a suit against the government, against the Pentagon for favoring religion over nonreligion. 

You have government employees in the Pentagon administering religious oaths to children on government time on government bases.  This is not allowed by the First Amendment, and the ACLU is out there enforcing First Amendment rights.  And that is the source of the lawsuit. 

BUCHANAN:  According to the Supreme Court, the First Amendment protects the Boy Scouts‘ freedom of association to have anyone they want as Scout masters and to believe what they want. 

Peter Ferrara, why did the Pentagon cave in? 

PETER FERRARA, SCOUTING LEGAL DEFENSE FUND:  Well, first of all, I want to say the First Amendment says nothing about a separation of church and state.  That is just completely false, what he just said.  The First Amendment prohibits an establishment of religion.

And we don‘t have an establishment of an official religion in America just because an Army base sponsors a Boy Scout troop.  That is typical of the ACLU‘s perverted reading of the Constitution that they‘re trying to impose on the country.  Now, they didn‘t win as many as big a victory here as may be touted.  It was actually a very limited victory. 

What the Justice Department told me was that there was a long-standing Defense Department policy that Army units would not sponsor private organizations and that had not been enforced for many years.  So they would agree to have that standing regulation enforced, but Boy Scout troops can still meet on military bases.  They can still use the facilities.  They would be sponsored by a private organization like an American Legion group or a veterans group, so nothing really changes for the experience of the boys who continue to operate in these troops. 

They just wouldn‘t be officially sponsored by a U.S. Army unit.  They‘d be officially sponsored by a private unit.  Now, I think that that policy should be—the policy that the Justice Department reinstituted should be changed.  And I think should be changed by legislation.  And I think that they should be explicitly authorized to go ahead and sponsor Boy Scouts troops because this is not a violation of the First Amendment. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  All right. 

FERRARA:  What you have is the typical perverted response of the ACLU, where they are now using the First Amendment to restrict the freedom of speech and association of the Boy Scouts. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Larry Walters, tell me what religion the Boy Scouts and these officers on bases who are giving these kids their oath, what exactly religion are they trying to establish for the United States of America, Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Islam, what? 

WALTERS:  Well, let me first respond to the statement that the First Amendment does not require a separation of church and state.  It absolutely does.  The United States Supreme Court has recognized over and over again that the establishment...

FERRARA:  That‘s false.  Those words don‘t appear in the Constitution. 

That is false. 

WALTERS:  I‘m sorry, sir.  I was speaking.

FERRARA:  You‘re being untruthful. 

WALTERS:  I‘m sorry.  I was speaking. 

FERRARA:  Yes, but you‘re not being truthful, though.  You‘re lying.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Let Mr. Walters speak. 

WALTERS:  The First Amendment absolutely prohibits the entanglement of government with religion.

And here, what the lawsuit is claiming and what the Pentagon was doing was favoring religion over nonreligion.  Here in the United States, we have the right to not believe in God.  We have the right to not be sure.  We have the right to believe in nature as our God.  But what the Boy Scouts require...

BUCHANAN:  Mr. Walters, how did the Boy Scouts on these bases, you know, with people volunteering to give them an oath, how does that interfere with your rights? 

WALTERS:  Well, it‘s not my rights. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Whose rights?  Whose rights are we interfering with?  Who is being denied his right to practice his faith or nonfaith or disbelief or belief?  Whose rights are being trampled on because Boy Scouts are voluntarily on military bases and soldiers and officers are acting as Scout masters? 

WALTERS:  In the United States, we have the right for government to not be involved and endorse and favor religion over nonreligion.  That is the right that is at issue. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, what you‘re telling me, sir, is nobody‘s rights are being violated. 

WALTERS:  No, sir.  No, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  You people are trying to prevent people from doing things voluntarily together. 

WALTERS:  No, Pat.  That is not correct. 

FERRARA:  You know, Pat, you see the scam they got involved here.

You see, if a group of people try to come together to support traditional moral values, well, then, they need to be banned.  They need to be excluded.  They need to be penalized because, well, that probably involves religion or maybe they teach the boys not to engage in sex outside of marriage, and maybe that‘s anti-gay.  And so now they need to be banned and excluded. 

But if you are an atheist group or you‘re a pro-homosexual group, well, you could come right in.  That‘s because there is nothing unconstitutional about that.  So you see how they have entirely perverted the First Amendment.  And they use it to restrict the First Amendment freedoms of people who want to come together and teach traditional moral values. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Mr. Walter, now this—I really think this is a very valid point that is being made here.  I don‘t believe you should be required to say any prayer, read any Ten Commandments.  I don‘t think you should be required to make the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag if you don‘t want to. 

I don‘t think you should be forced to do anything.  But here are the Boy Scouts voluntarily here.  No military officer should be forced to do it.  But if voluntarily they want to have these kids out there on the bases and they want to be Scout masters, they want to be giving the oath, and it‘s all voluntary, what is the problem there? 

WALTERS:  Nobody is saying that the Pentagon employees can‘t be Scout masters. 

The problem is that, on taxpayer time, using taxpayer resources, on taxpayer property, these federal employees are administering religious oaths to kids.  That was the problem. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  How are you harmed?  Are you being hurt by this? 

WALTERS:  How am I being—I‘m not being hurt by this. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Who is being hurt by this?  Who is establishing a church? 

WALTERS:  I‘ll tell you exactly who is being hurt by this.  The Bill of Rights is being hurt by this, because the Bill of Rights says that the government shall not be involved in religion, shall not favor religion, shall not endorse religion.  That is for the churches.  That is for our spiritual leaders. 

BUCHANAN:  Mr. Walters, the federal government gives tax deductions for my contributions to churches. 

WALTERS:  Sure.  Absolutely. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, they‘re not advancing religion that way? 

WALTERS:  No, they‘re not advancing religion. 

(CROSSTALK)

FERRARA:  The U.S. Army has chaplains as well.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly. 

FERRARA:  That is not unconstitutional either. 

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS:  This is a specific challenge in a specific case.  And the government recognized it was valid.  Otherwise, they wouldn‘t have conceded. 

FERRARA:  It was a twisted—what they‘re doing is, they‘re having a twisted interpretation of the First Amendment to restrict the freedoms of people who want to advance traditional moral values. 

This is not just the Boy Scouts here.  The next target then becomes more explicitly religious groups, any group that wants to promote traditional moral values.  This becomes a precedent to attack them. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, Larry Walters, Peter Ferrara, thank you both for joining us on this Friday night after Thanksgiving. 

More SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY coming up. 

Thousands of troops are serving abroad, folks—you and I know it—during this holiday season.  And you can make them feel a little closer to home.  We‘ll tell you how coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Next week in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, the “Left Behind” book series is a best-seller.  We‘ll tell you why it‘s such a big hit and why the elite media doesn‘t know why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  The USO has been entertaining American troops since before World War II. 

Here now to tell us what the USO is doing today and what SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY viewers can do to help our troops serving abroad, three members of the USO Troupe of New York, Josette D‘Ambrosi, Lynelle Johnson, and Genna Griffith, who was also Miss USO 2004.

Lynelle, you represent the New York affiliate of the USO.  Tell us how you‘re helping families and how SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY folks can help out. 

LYNELLE JOHNSON, USO TROUPE OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK:  Well, the USO has been around since 1941.  And we are the USO Troupe of Metropolitan New York. 

And ways that people can help with making their families feel closer while they‘re overseas is, we have programs such as video Internet, where families can keep in touch via video e-mail while they‘re overseas with their families.  And, also, we provide recreational programs and many other humanitarian services. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, Geena (sic)...

GENNA GRIFFITH, USO TROUPE OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK:  Genna.

BUCHANAN:  How can we help out? 

GRIFFITH:  Well, we are the USO Troupe of Metropolitan New York.

And what we do is, we provide free performing for the military.  We have a full show, Broadway caliber.  And every penny that‘s donated, well, in New York, provides free entertainment for the military, which is great.  And we‘d like to continue that, to travel more.  So we appreciate any type of donation for that. 

BUCHANAN:  So we can make personal contributions and we can make corporate contributions to the USO.  And the government doesn‘t give them money.  But if we do that, individuals, and companies, that helps out.  That helps you to help out the troops, right? 

GRIFFITH:  Definitely.  Absolutely. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me ask you, Lynelle, do you have folks over in Iraq or in Kuwait helping out there? 

JOHNSON:  We do.  We do.  We have USO shows actually going on as we speak around the world.  And they bring—a lot of times, they have star tours, where they bring stars overseas with them.  And I know that there‘s a big holiday tour coming up. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, thank you very much, three lovely ladies doing lovely work. 

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON:  Thank you.  

BUCHANAN:  Good night from SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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