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Freedom for All Except...

April 2, 2007
S. Michael Craven
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One of our most treasured freedoms in this nation is codified in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which 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.”

In particular is the right to public dissent and the freedom to express personal opinions that criticize specific ideas, positions, policies, and institutions. This freedom is essential to a free society in which ideas are allowed to compete for acceptance. Conversely this freedom also allows for the public condemnation of ideas that are believed to be false, and harmful to persons and society. This is essential to healthy debate within a pluralistic society where ideas, both good and bad, have the right to be expressed. It is this form of pluralism that then allows for such concepts as conversion. Opposing ideologies can freely compete for supremacy in the marketplace of ideas and observers can be converted to one position or the other based upon the merits of the given arguments, evidence and facts.

Practically, this means that even the most offensive ideas have the right to be expressed. This is necessary because there can be no attempt to preempt “offensive ideas” without first establishing an a priori standard that says some ideas are bad and of course this requires judgment of some kind from someone. This is precisely what the First Amendment is designed to limit – the right of “someone” in a position of governmental power to judge some speech acceptable and some not. Granted this is not an unlimited right; obscenity, slander, and libel are not protected under the First Amendment but the central aim of this amendment was to limit the government’s suppression of the broadest possible expression of ideas and opinions.

Today, legislators in the House of Representatives are pushing for a “discharge petition” to force a vote on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2001, (LLEHCPA), H.R. 1592, another federal Hate Crimes bill that would add “sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability” to current hate crimes law. Introduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), this one has more than 100 cosponsors. LLEHCPA would authorize the Justice Department to conduct local law enforcement hate crimes training, and to conduct expanded hate crimes investigations and prosecutions.

This legislation will ban alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether actual or perceived, as well as “gender,” which include the categories of transgender, cross-dresser, or transvestite. To be clear, I do not advocate denying the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to any person solely on the basis of their bad habits. However, neither do I advocate encouraging or sanctioning bad habits which impede persons in their reasonable and moral use of those rights.

The purpose of “hate crimes” legislation, in this instance, is to apply this preemptive aspect mentioned above, in order to render any speech opposing the legitimacy and promotion of homosexuality illegal, because such speech or even expressed thoughts constitute “hate.” Thus it inhibits the rights of those who resist the imposition of homosexual morality to disagree and brings the power of the state to bear on those who do.

In a bit of irony, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee is also actively promoting this legislation which would also serve to suppress any public criticism of Islam. It is ironic in that, if Muslims were able to achieve their long-term goal of bringing this nation under Sharia’ Law, persons engaging in homosexuality would suffer severely. Politics does indeed make strange bed-fellows.

Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America makes the point that “Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials… A homosexual can claim emotional damage from hearing Scripture that describes his lifestyle as an abomination. He can press charges against the pastor or broadcaster who merely reads the Bible in public. The ‘hater’ can be fined thousands of dollars and even imprisoned!”

As World Net Daily has reported, such laws already have been used around the world, where in Canada pastors are fearful of reading biblical injunctions against homosexuality, and in Australia where two pastors were convicted of “vilifying” Islam. Britain’s recent Hate Crimes Bill goes so far as to limit the rights of a private religious school’s ability to teach that homosexual behavior is immoral or thought to be wrong.

Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth noted that in both Canada and France, legislators have been fined for publicly criticizing homosexuality. Three years ago, a Swedish hate crimes law was used to put Pastor Ake Green, who preached that homosexuality is a sin, in jail for a month. “And recently, a British couple told how they were denied the chance to adopt because it was determined that their Christian faith might ‘prejudice’ them against a homosexual child put in their care,” LaBarbera added.

Already in the United States, Catholic Charities of Boston halted all adoption operations in the state last year after being told under Massachusetts’ pro-gay nondiscrimination law, only agencies that placed children in homosexual-led households would get licensed by the state. And, the indoctrination into pro-homosexual thinking is well-entrenched in corporate where voicing one’s dissent will quickly result in termination or “counseling.”

Our nation is increasingly falling under the influence of those who want to live in “a way that seems right to them but in the end leads to death” and they are willing to do all they can to silence any and all who disagree. The greatness of this nation is, in the end, found only in a set of ideas and values. When these ideas and values cease to serve as our foundation; this nation, as we know it, will no longer exist and the freedom to follow Christ and press His Kingdom will be greatly limited. This may be the Lord’s will for this time but nowhere does such oppression give us license to be unfaithful in pressing the Truth.

I urge you to contact your representatives today and voice your opposition to this destructive legislation. You can locate and contact your elected representatives here: http://www.house.gov/

Copyright 2007 by S. Michael Craven

Watch an informative video on the growing movement to enact "thought" crime laws and declare your opposition to congress HERE

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Responses
Response from : Chip Burkitt  

April 2, 2007 11:13 AM
 

I looked up the bill you mention (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act) and can find no reference in it to so-called hate-speech. It refers specifically to violent crimes and crimes that inflict bodily injury. It doesn't appear that anyone's First Amendment rights are being threatened by this legislation, unless I missed something. This is not to say I support additional Federal hate-crime legislation. I generally prefer having as little law as is practical. Nevertheless, it seems that your newsletter this time was unnecessarily alarmist.


 
Response from : Michael Craven  

April 2, 2007 11:21 AM
 

Dear Chip,

In 1990, the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA) made verbal "intimidation" a hate crime. What H.R. 1343 does is to extend that standard to the category of sexual orientation. It, therefore, most assuredly does include "speech" that is now particular to "sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. With all due respect, I think that is necessarily alarming!


 
Response from : John Evans  

April 2, 2007 12:00 PM
 

Michael,
Hope you and the family are well. I realize this is not going to be well received but I hope we are to the stage in our relationship that we can speak frankly without getting too emotional. From my perspective it is clear why you in particular are concerned about such laws being inacted to prevent hate speech against homosexuals as it seems you write more about homosexuality than any other topic. If this goes through you just may have to find another group of people to demonize-

On another note— if you haven’t read The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, I would highly recommend it.


 
Response from : Beverly  

April 2, 2007 3:18 PM
 

I know this will never make it through the censors but as a moderate Christian, it's so sad to see Christianity being corrupted by intolerance and turned into a replacement for the KKK.


 
Response from : Robert  

April 2, 2007 4:52 PM
 

I argee with you totally.The question is are any saints actively contacting the public officals in their city? We like to talk about Jesus but when it is time to put some skin in the game of life we tend to shy away. Thank you for doing your part.


 
Response from : Rick Stockton  

April 2, 2007 6:25 PM
 

Very good! I just wrote my representative!


 
Response from : Cindi Jones  

April 3, 2007 2:37 AM
 

Okay, here I am folks. I am one of those for which this legislation is written. I am not gay. But I did have gender reassignment many years ago. For years, I have lived in the shadows, terrified that I would be beaten, murdered, raped, or any one of numerous other heinous acts. During my transition, I was raped, spit upon, called names, followed, and chastised. No, I do not push an agenda. I hide in your midst, only wanting the same rights that anyone else has.

There are many places in this country where I can legally be denied health care. Many states forbid me to marry anyone of either gender. I can be harrassed, ridiculed, and molested with no legal recourse.

I want to be able to get health care. I want to collect my social security. I want to marry. I want to be able to live my life without fear.

I continue to live a normal life in your midst as a woman. You will see me and never think of what my past may have been. You will see me on the street and say hi. You will open the door for me at the supermarket. I will smile and thank you. I will bring your family dinner when your wife is in the hospital. I will sit next to you in church. You will treat me as any other person. Would you treat me any different knowing my past?

These laws help move us to protect life and liberty for all people... not just those who agree with those who are religious Christians. It is good that we protect basic rights for everyone. After all, isn't that what Christ would do?

Cindi Jones

http://www.cindijones.com

 
Response from : Michael Craven  

April 3, 2007 8:46 AM
 

Dear Cindi,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. While I sympathize with your plight, this legislation does not offer you any additional protection over and above that already provided under the laws of the United States. Neither are the criminal acts which you describe limited to persons in your situation. They are caused by the sinful acts of those perpetrators and the prevailing laws are put in place to punish said acts in order to achieve justice. The same moral system that condemns these heinous acts of violence also condemns homosexual acts. Morality is not an arbitrarily determined set of values that follow cultural trends but a universally understood system that conforms to nature and the reality of human experience. Our outrage (sense of justice) in response to these acts of violence is not some freakish quirk in an impersonal universe but reflect the character and laws of God. These acts are wrong (always) because they violate the Creator's character. This is also true of human sexuality; there is a true and correct expression of sex and thus there are moral limitations to what is permissible. This is evidenced by the consequences which result when these limits are violated and they conform to the limitations imposed by God. In every instance, violation of these principles causes harm to individuals and the society in which they reside. Therefore, it is precisely because of compassion that we press for moral restraint.

Cindi, I cannot begin to understand your personal struggles or the suffering you have endured and I do not condemn you as a person. You are a human being made in the image of God and you are precious to the point that He became flesh, suffered and died, in order to satisfy His righteous judgment (justice) against you (and me) for our rebellion against His rightful authority in our lives. If God were not the final word on justice then there could be no justice whatsoever in the world and men would be free to do whatever they wanted and we would be utterly without hope. Injustice would surely prevail. However, God's justice requires that we turn from our willful independence (sin) and follow Christ.

The goal of God's act of redemption and His continuing work in the world is the restoration of fellowship with Him and each other. It is sin that has broken this fellowship and created all of the conditions you have described including your own sorrow and suffering. We all suffer from our own sin as well as the sin of others and this is the great tragedy from which we need rescue. This is what Christ, out of love, came to do, but that does mean we can continue to make our own rules and live in our own way. His offer is simple: "repent and follow Me..."

Again, thank you for sharing and I am truly sorry for your sorrow and suffering.

Michael


 
Response from : Cindi Jones  

April 4, 2007 5:05 PM
 

Michael,

It is interesting to note that although many think that I am homosexual, I am not. I am asexual and have chosen a celebate lifestyle. It may interest your readers that fully 35 percent of transgendered individuals choose to live this way; to never have sexual relations in their lives. Regardless of where you stand concerning moral values, I ask you, where is the sin? The hate laws that protect you deny me the same rights. And that is what is at issue here.

Cindi Jones

http://www.cindijones.com

 
Response from : Laina  

April 5, 2007 4:21 PM
 

Hello,
I'm a Christian who consistently reads this page, tho I do not consistently agree with your positions. The inmportant thing, though, is that you are my brother in Christ. We can disagree.

You wrote:

“In particular is the right to public dissent and the freedom to express personal opinions that criticize specific ideas, positions, policies, and institutions. This freedom is essential to a free society in which ideas are allowed to compete for acceptance. Conversely this freedom also allows for the public condemnation of ideas that are believed to be false, and harmful to persons and society. This is essential to healthy debate within a pluralistic society where ideas, both good and bad, have the right to be expressed. It is this form of pluralism that then allows for such concepts as conversion. Opposing ideologies can freely compete for supremacy in the marketplace of ideas and observers can be converted to one position or the other based upon the merits of the given arguments, evidence and facts”. I could not agree more.

However, your comment that "Practically, this means that even the most offensive ideas have the right to be expressed. This is necessary because there can be no attempt to preempt “offensive ideas” without first establishing an a priori standard that says some ideas are bad and of course this requires judgment of some kind from someone." is certainly questionable. Sexual abuse is bad. Period. I don't think it has the right to be publicly promoted. The Man-Boy Love Association is an abomination. It has no place in favorable public discourse. The KKK certainly could be an appropriate choice for some limitations on "offensive" speech. So, we differ about whether even the most odious speech has equal rights in our public life. And I think the defining line, for a society composed of a wide variety of peoples and perspectives, is necessarily this: Speech with endangers people, speech which incites violence, speech which does manifest harm to others, should be subject to some reasonable restriction. The transcendent value of any government is the protection of its citizens. In America, that is especially true for citizens who are the most vulnerable to harm.
In Christianity, that is especially true when the citizens are "the least of these".

The transcendent value of Christianity is to love one another. So we have a different standard against which to judge our speech and that of others.

I AM VERY MUCH WONDERING IF THE COMMMENT BY A PREVIOUS RESPONDENT THAT THERE IS NO 'HATE SPEECH' PROVISION TO THIS LEGISLATION IS ACCURATE. If this legislation is confined to the restriction of VIOLENCE or INTIMIDATION against those who have a different expression of their personal sexuality, I see no harm in it. If the legislation seeks to limit individual speech or thought, then it is unsuupportable. We should govern our own thoughts and words, unless those words cause harm to others.

As citizens, my rights stop where yours begin. Yours stop where mine begin. As Christians, that shouldn't matter anyway, since we should be more concerned for others' rights than for ourselves.
In Christ,

Laina






Thi essay is very interesting, because it offers such rich opportunity to emphatically agree and to strongly disagree all at once.


 
Response from : Roland Vernon  

April 7, 2007 1:32 AM
 

I cannot help but revert to Christ's own example of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. When we stand before God, are we admitting our own sin or comparing it to the sin of others. As a Christian I stand in awe at God's extravagant love, His all encompassing and unconditional love for us all. I am amazed on a daily basis at how He takes us, blesses us, breaks us and uses us... but the work is always His! I know that God uses me in ways for which I feel I am not worthy - but He has deemed me worthy. EVEN though I am gay! Michael, when you realise that I am far more than my gayness, and that my sexuality is but a portion of my whole, you will realise that it is not MY sexuality that threatens you, or your family, or your community, or your country for that matter. It is the love of Christ which addresses YOUR pain. Christ welcomed any opportunity He had to sit and eat with those whom you would stand in judgement of. I wonder if He would be voting for or against this Bill???


 
Response from : Edward L Bunn, III  

April 7, 2007 8:04 AM
 

Hate Crime Law is alive and doing well in Canada. I visited Quebec Province and New Brunswick Province during the early and mid-1980's and found the certain Gospel tracts are illegal. The Gospel tracts by Jack Chick of California are considered hate literature because of their anti-Catholic teaching. Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family must prepare a special program to air on Canadian radio stations in order not to teach that homosexuality is sin. Otherwise his program would not be broadcast. I had worked at a Christian radio station in one of our northern states, and the FM power was increased to 100,000 watts, which increased the coverage area to include parts of the neighboring Canadian provinces along the border. The Canadians responded by putting on the air several high-powered FM stations on the same frequency along the border in order to jam the signals from the American station because, as part of preaching and teaching the Gospel message, homosexuality was called sin and an abomination in the sight of God. Unless we tell our elected officials to reject this hate crimes legislation, our ability to preach and teach the Word of God in its entireity, instead of a watered-down version, will be severely limited. Maybe that's just what the Church in America needs: a wave of persecution to weed out the fair-weather believers from the true believers, the true believers who would be willing to die for Christ. (You may edit this as you see fit.)


 
Response from : David L. VanderMeulen  

April 9, 2007 9:23 PM
 

Thank you for the informative article about the Hate Crimes Legislation. I wrote by e-mail to Hon. Blackburn of TN to oppose this legislation, and did quote portions of your text in support, giving credit by name and indicating that these views coincided with my own. Thanks again (former Dallas area resident for 5 years), David VanderMeulen


 
Response from : Laina  

April 9, 2007 11:59 PM
 

"For as rain and snow fall from the heavens and return not again but water the earth, bringing forth life and giving growth...
So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty;
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, and prosper in that for which I sent it." We don't have to worry, God is more powerful than watts.

In Christ, Laina


 
Response from : Michael Craven  

April 10, 2007 11:07 AM
 

Dear Roland,

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments. If I understand you correctly, you are stating that homosexual behavior and following Christ are not opposed to one another. While I cannot know your heart and I do indeed hope that you have experienced the saving grace of God, I can know that certain behaviors are expressly forbidden in Scripture. These behaviors include, but are not limited too, homosexual acts in the same way Scripture prohibits sex outside the covenantal commitment of marriage. The theology of sex given to us in Scripture conforms to a particular understanding that is compatible with nature, limited to monogamous couples of the opposite sex, and procreative in its result. Nowhere do we find biblical support for engaging in homosexual acts. As followers of Christ, we come to faith as sinners in need of redemption and while God does indeed love us He also commands us to turn from our sin and be holy. We cannot continue in our sin and hope to justify this through agreement with the prevailing culture. God’s truth transcends time and culture. In other words, sin is sin regardless of what society says.

Dear Roland, I am not in anyway “threatened” by your homosexual behavior; I grieve for my own sin as well as the sin others. But, I am particularly grieved by efforts to legitimize that which God calls sin, and as followers of Christ we are called to speak the truth in order that our brother may be saved in the same way that Nathan confronted David. This is love! Secondly, I am grieved because it offends God but also because sin inevitably and always hurts people, including you. My dear brother, I do not judge you, judgment is the Lord’s but His word is clear on this matter and therefore I exhort you to turn from your sin and stop deceiving yourself into believing that the Lord loves your sin. He loves you, yes, but He died to atone for your sins and mine. It is our sin that we must turn from if we want to truly follow Christ.

In Him,
Michael


 
Response from : Melissa  

April 16, 2007 1:18 PM
 

With all do respect, you insinuate that the legislation is being passed to limit you in what you can say. However, the legislation is being passed to protect people from those who would do to them what they did to Matthew Shepard.


 
Response from : Michael Craven  

April 16, 2007 2:04 PM
 

Dear Melissa,

Thank you taking the time to respond. However, I must disagree with you. According to the 1990 Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA), verbal "intimidation" constitutes a hate crime. Given the subjective nature of “verbal intimidation” this leaves much to interpretation. This same legal language has been the basis for successful “hate speech” prosecutions in other western countries. What H.R. 1343 does is to extend that same standard to the category of sexual orientation. It, therefore, most assuredly does include "speech" that is now particular to "sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.” In the matter of the Matthew Sheperd tragedy, this legislation would have done nothing to prevent such a horrific crime from being committed. In fact, the two perpetrators have subsequently admitted that they did know he was gay, the crime committed was related to a robbery for drug money. These two men were simply evil. His two assailants, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, were convicted of the crime and imprisoned. Henderson is currently serving two consecutive life sentences and McKinney is serving the same but without the possibility of parole. Hate crime legislation would not have offered any additional protection for Matthew Sheperd nor could it have improved the justice administered to these two criminals.


 
Response from : Donald Tobkin  

April 24, 2007 11:12 PM
 

Press on....... Democracy sustains only so long as citizens press the issues..... whatever may be the political agendas at stake....... The homosexual agenda should be thinking about funding mega-billions of dollars to build new prisons to hold all the citizens who dare to disagree with their moral choices.

http://?

 

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