Politics - Free Speech
Free speech and freedom of religion are first amendment rights guaranteed to those of us here in the United States...
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (1st Amendment of the US Constitution)
· It is because of these rights that White Supremist Groups can meet in the United States without fear of prosecution.
· It is because of these rights that people like Fred Phelps can go throughout the country and appear at Veteran’s funerals with signs that say : “ Thank God for IED’s” and “God hates fags” without fear of prosecution. see:
www.godhatesfags.com/written/fliers/20080327_antione-robinson-funeral.pdf www.godhatesfags.com/written/fliers/20080326_unc-laramie-project.pdf www.godhatesfags.com/written/fliers/20080327_william-jefferson-funeral.pdf
· It is because of these rights that Wiccans, pagans, Jews, Muslims, Christians, New Agers, Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists, and even Satan worshipers etc. can freely practice their religion in this country.
Hate Crime Laws and Free Speech
(I cover the philosophy of hate crime laws on a different page. Here I am simply looking at them in terms of speech)
Hate crime laws have been on the books for years in the United States to protect people of other races from discrimination. In no case that I know of, have these laws ever been successfully used to silence free speech. If they could silence speech you would not see the use of the n--- word because it would have been criminalized long ago.
Additionally, hate crime laws that include sexual orientation are in 32 states in the United States. There has been no flood of cases of people incriminated by these laws for their speech. Update.. in 2009 a Federal law was passed regarding Hate Crimes (see link) Also note: A groups of pastors (believing their own spin) tried to test this law once it was passed to prove it would curtail anti-gay speech But it didn't. They were free to be anti-gay and no one was arrested (see link). (Note: There is one case in Philly that supposedly showed this happening but those charges were dismissed. If anything this case showed the very opposite of the feared outcome of hate crimes legislation. For more info see this page (Philadelphia Eleven pages)) While these things may seem obvious now.. false statements about hate crime laws and how they would cause pastors to be arrested for speaking against homosexuality were quite rampant at one time.
Typical problems I have with alleged free speech violations reported by some Christians...
· When I investigate the claims I typically find that the case was resolved in favor of the person speaking against homosexuality
· If it was not resolved in favor of the person speaking against homosexuality (and even when it is resolved in favor) I typically find that the speech being defended is rude, obnoxious, slanderous, or ungracious. It is extremely rare to ever find gracious, Christ-like speech being challenged.
· I have to wonder, considering the above, if the only cases Christian have of alleged free speech limitation are of people being rude and obnoxious in their witness.
· If many of the situations sited were reversed I doubt we as Christians would like it and I believe we would probably respond in a similar fashion with arrests and charges.
· Often a big deal is made about alleged free speech violations when all that is being done is keep people from getting in the face of others and allowing appropriate access to a building. (see this ordinance section 623.03) People do not even want telemarketers calling them on the phone. How much less do they want someone getting in their face on a public street? Thus there are ordinances like this one that prevent protectors from getting nearer than eight feet to an individual unless they are invited. This does not prohibit speech. It prevents adults from acting like kindergartners. See also this link to a portion of federal code.
· Certain Christian groups seem to think that free speech should have no restrictions at all. But even Jay Secular of American Center for Law and Justice knows this is not the case. See this webpage (archived)
Additionally I would refer you to this article by the ACLU. As you can see the ACLU often defends speech that others find objectionable. In this article they speak up in favor of House bill 1592 as the first bill they could fully support because it fully protects free speech. Even Fred Phelps, mentioned earlier, is defended by the ACLU in this article.
So why are we concerned???? (again .. see recent updates about three paragraphs up)
The red herring...
I truly believe that the free speech concerns being raised are really a red herring. A red herring is a distraction designed to keep you from being focused on what the real issue is. In all of the blogs and forums I get on there is an endless buzz about free speech. Once and a while a person will try to tell the people that their concerns are unfounded but they are ignored.
The real issue, if you read between the lines, is simply this: Certain Christians do not want gay people to be classified as people in any law; local or federal. And this is where you lose me in the argument.
· As far as I am concerned, gay people are entitled to the same basic rights that I have as a human being.
· They are entitled to the same rights I have as a Christian.
· They are entitled to the same rights as others have with different religious beliefs and customs (even Satan worshipers enjoy the same rights in this country as I do.)
Whatever you believe about homosexuality and choice, religious belief is not something you are born with. It is a personal choice and it is protected. Protection in employment and protection from harassment are not ‘special” rights. They are rights that we all should enjoy in a pluralistic society.
For more information on hate crimes please proceed to the Hate Crime topic page. For information on the employee non-discrimination acts please proceed to this page. For research on actual alleged cases of free speech violation please proceed to the main political page.