Tuesday, February 04, 2014

No free speech for pro-family views

Americans have the free speech right to criticize anti-family govt policies, right? That is certainly one of the premises of this blog, and I try to report any evidence to the contrary.

Unfortunately an American has gotten into legal trouble for doing that, and has just lost the first round in court.

Here is the background, according to gay free speech advocate Jonathan Rauch:
Scott Lively is an obsessively anti-gay American evangelical minister. He is, according to National Journal, “perhaps the most extreme” of a network of U.S. evangelicals who, having failed in their crusade against all things gay at home, travel abroad to connect with anti-gay activists and arm them with arguments that, for example, homosexuals will seduce their children, corrupt all of society, and eventually take over the country. You don’t need to take my word for it; read Lively’s manifesto here. It’s a 2007 missive to Russians suggesting they “criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality,” i.e., use state power to force gay people into the closet. This is something Russia actually did last year (rather indirectly, but quite effectively).
Here is that offensive manifesto:
Letter to the Russian People

I am Dr. Scott Lively, President of Defend the Family International, a human-rights organization based near Los Angeles, California. ...

The purpose of my visit was to bring a warning about the homosexual political movement which has done much damage to my country and which has now taken root in Russia. This is a very fast-growing social cancer that will destroy the family foundations of your society if you do not take immediate, effective action to stop it.

Homosexuality is a personality disorder that involves various, often dangerous sexual addictions and aggressive, anti-social impulses. This combination of factors causes homosexuals to have an intense loyalty to each other and a common goal to change any society in which they live in organized "gay and lesbian" communities. They have no acceptance in a society that restricts sex to heterosexual marriage, so they work to eliminate sexual morality and remove all limitations on sexual conduct. Importantly, their initial strategy is not promote homosexuality, but to spread sexual immorality among heterosexuals, especially the young people. Only later, when the culture has become sexually corrupt, do they openly step forward to take power as the natural leaders of such a society.

The process of change always begins with the institutions which shape the thinking and behavior of young people. First comes the promotion of sexual promiscuity through mass media, then the introduction of high-profile "gay" celebrities such as Elton John and George Michael, then the development of "gay" political cells in the universities. Later comes the advocacy of "gay rights" by politicians and community leaders.

It is no accident that Hollywood promotes sexual immorality. ...

What can be done to protect Russia from the "gay" movement?

First, begin an immediate campaign in every city to promote marriage and family values, and to discourage sexual promiscuity and cohabitation. ...

Second, begin training doctors, psychologists and therapists in the techniques of helping homosexuals to recover, and offer this therapy as a public service. Promote recovery for homosexuals in public advertising and reach out to young people who may suffer from same-sex attraction. Catch it early and spare these youths a lifetime of pain and suffering. Importantly, if Russian authorities publicly promote recovery for homosexuals, the "gays" will not be able to deceive the public with their "born the way" propaganda.

Third, criminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don't want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage "gay pride" parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.

Fourth, develop family-friendly media alternatives to the immoral products now being imported from the U.S. and Europe. ...
You may disagree with this, but it appears to be a legitimate and well-reasoned political opinion to me.

For expressing these opinions, Lively got sued:
In 2012, an American group called the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a Ugandan group called Sexual Minorities Uganda, sued Lively in federal court in Massachusetts, where he lives, for crimes against humanity. It cited jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute, a vague and controversial law. The suit alleges that the law gives the Ugandans standing to sue Lively for his activities, which had a crucial nexus in the U.S. and therefore come under federal courts’ jurisdiction; it also charges that Lively not only advocated bad ideas in an abstract context but helped various Ugandans conceive and manage a campaign of persecution, thus involving himself in a joint criminal enterprise. ...

On the facts as I read them, the plaintiff’s theory would leave no clear line between speaking one’s mind and engaging in a criminal conspiracy, at least if speaking one’s mind could be plausibly connected to some bad outcome. ...

If I could think of a way to hold Lively and his ilk legally accountable that could be reliably distinguished from protected expression, I would.
It is a sad day when a free speech advocate and a federal judge are looking for ways to censor someone's political opinion. Let's hope that the appeals court sides with the First Amendment rights.

Rauch finishes by asking:
Now, here’s what should be happening. Christians — especially evangelicals, and above all evangelicals who oppose gay marriage but insist they are not anti-gay (you know who you are!) — should be publicly repudiating what Lively is doing. They should make a very uncomplicated moral statement: “It is wrong and it is un-Christian to go abroad and help demagogues persecute homosexuals, whether intentionally or not.” They should treat Lively the way white blood cells treat a bacillus, walling him off before he discredits evangelicals more broadly — as surely he will.

But to my knowledge, not a single prominent U.S. Christian leader has spoken up. Not one. Think about that.

I wonder: if it were Jews instead of gays that Lively were going after, would the silence from mainstream Christians be more obvious?
Rauch is a gay Jewish atheist, of course, and here he displays his anti-Christian hostility. There are Orthodox Jews who oppose gay marriage, as the Jewish Torah says homosexuality is an abomination, but he just wants to attack Christians and try to make some sort of Jewish thing about it.

I am not an evangelical, and I do not agree with everything Lively says, but I see no reason to publicly repudiate him. His opinion is not a crime against humanity, any more than Rauch's opinion.

Lively could be right about Russia, for all I know. According to Wikipecia LGBT rights in Russia, the laws there are quite liberal. The main gay gripe is some minor popular law against giving homosexual propaganda to minors. That law has only been used 5 times.

Update: The harassment continues:
Pastor Scott Lively is a lawyer, preacher and activist for Christ, as well as a candidate for governor of Massachusetts. He was invited to speak on criminal justice at Harvard, but recently received notice that he was being eliminated because of a lawsuit filed against him by homosexual groups in Uganda because of his stance against homosexuality through the organization Defend the Family. Lively says that cannot truly disqualify him.

“The whole point is this is just a pretext,” he tells OneNewsNow. “They were looking for some reason to disinvite me, some way that they could justify retracting the invitation, and so they latched on to this. But it's just a pretext.”

Lively believes the true reason is that Harvard bowed to intense pressure from homosexual groups.

“These people are the worst bullies in our society, and anyone who stands up and declares even the simple, essential Christian tenet that marriage is between a man and a woman is immediately targeted for complete destruction.”

He says that tactic has been used, successfully in many cases, to shout down Christians and others who oppose the homosexual lifestyle and homosexual “marriage.”

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