Politics - Phrases punishable as hate speech
The Claim: ‘Natural family,’ ‘Marriage’ and ‘Union of a man and a woman’ can be punished as ‘hate speech’
What is this about
Basically it is about the (alleged) right of office employees to post on a company bulletin board a flyer for a group which was written in a way that could be found offensive by others in the office
Here are more specific facts.. (from court documents .. see below)
The individuals who posted the flyer sued the Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency where they worked for having the flyer removed.
The flyer promoted their unincorporated association, the Good News Employee Association (GNEA), which called on readers to “Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity,” and explained that GNEA “is a forum for people of Faith to express their views on contemporary issues of the day.
GNEA’s stated purposes are “to celebrate our Faith and Liberties by preserving the integrity of the Natural Family, Marriage and Family values”; “to provide a forum for people of faith to express their views on contemporary issues of the day”; and “to oppose all views that seek to redefine the Natural Family and Marriage.”
In its “Statement of Faith,” GNEA explains that “we believe the Natural Family is defined as a man and a women their children by birth or adoption, or the surviving remnant thereof (including single parents)”; that “we believe Marriage is defined by a union between a man and a woman according to California state law”; and that “[w] e believe in Family Values that promote abstinence, marriage, fidelity in marriage and devotion to our children.” Plaintiffs’ deposition testimony confirms the anti-homosexual import of their definitions of “natural family,” “marriage” and the meaning of the flyer’s exhortation to “preserve our workplace with integrity.”
A lesbian employee who saw the flyer was offended by its contents and after talking with the individuals who had put up the flyer felt very uncomfortable. She thus complained to the city attorney’s office. This complaint included other anti-homosexual materials that had been distributed in the office.
The city attorney’s office ordered the flyers removed based on a violation of AI71 (note: AI 71 “Administrative Instruction 71,” is a personnel policy entitled “Equal Employment Opportunity/Anti- Discrimination/Non-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure.”
The individuals who posted the flyers were given alternate ways to advertise their group one of which included the company email system. However any email communication would need to have any discriminatory language removed. Additionally the individuals were given alternative ways to communicate their message. For example, they were not restricted from expressing their views on marriage or gay rights outside the workplace, over lunch or on a break.
What was the outcome of the case?
The plaintiffs lost their free speech suit. The various legal documents that trace this are found below. Basically the court ruled that the company has a right to control what goes on their bulletin board.
See court doc links below
Good news ruling 2005
Note: other links obsolete
Why was this reported as: The words ‘natural family,’ ‘marriage’ and ‘union of a man and a woman’ can be punished as ‘hate speech’?
This is due to a headline in a newspaper .. a headline designed to get the reader to read the story. Snopes revealed the problem with this depiction in their article here.
The AFA who had originally reported it as : (the words ‘natural family,’ ‘marriage’ and ‘union of a man and a woman’ can be punished as ‘hate speech’) responded to the snopes article here.
In their response above the AFA admits that they stated something as a matter of fact when they should have stated it as a matter of opinion.Really!! Stating something as fact when it is only a matter of opinion borders on deception.
They go on to say that their source was the headline of a Washington time’s story. The use of sensational headlines and first liners from news stories designed by the news agencies to get the public to read the article are hardly places I would go for truth.
The Snopes article takes you to the actual court documents not some sensational headline.
As we have already seen the issue was not whether use of such words was a hate crime but rather whether they had a right to use their work place bulletin board as a public forum.
* Side note: The AFA's false / misleading statements about Canadian law are covered elsewhere on this site. Also note that they use the Ake Green story but never tell you that Sweden is ‘safe’ for preaching against homosexuality . Their reference to hate crime laws is already covered here and here. Their reference to a bill in congress is covered on this page of my web site. What they give you is one piece of a several hundred page document.
My take on this:
Well once again we have a ‘Christian’ source giving out information as if it is fact when it is really only a matter of opinion. Actually, it’s worse than that. The issue is very simply what is allowed in the work place. Places of employment need to be sensitive to all the people who work there. Places of employment are not places where anything goes in terms of speech. For employees to get along they need to respect one another. This group had many ways to meet and discuss issues. They were even given opportunity to advertise over the company’s email system. They were not charged with a crime. They simply had their flyer removed. The only expense they had was all the legal fees of trying to sue their employer. This is yet another example of how a loving witness for Christ was turned into an us vs. them political battle.