Let's try a little experiment. I'm going to engage in a little anti-Christian "hate speech" and we're going to see what happens. Here we go:
I don't approve of Christianity as a lifestyle choice. Some of them are all right, but there are others who insist on flaunting their Christian lifestyle in front of others, even going door to door, trying to convert unsuspecting people to the Christian lifestyle cause. They're in our schools, trying to indoctrinate our children into Christianity and teaching our children that Christianity is an acceptable choice, even though it's clearly not. Christians have been caught with child pornography, our prisons are filled with Christian criminals, so-called "Christian leaders" have molested children and enlisted the services of prostitutes, and Christian churches have defrauded people of their life savings.
They've created large and powerful political organizations to push their Christian agenda in Washington. They bog down our school board meetings with complaints about evolution and "un-Christian" books. They seek to rewrite the history of this country to recast it as a "Christian nation." They engage in terrorism at abortion clinics and acts of violence against gays. Hitler was a Christian. Mussolini was a Christian. We must all join together to fight this Christian menace or there's a very real danger that we may wake up one day in a country we no longer recognize.
OK. Now I should be arrested by the thought police.
Any second now... Just you wait...
Doesn't look like it's going to happen right away. Maybe the jackbooted government Stormtroopers are busy busting someone else for doing the same thing. Maybe I'll be able to finish this before they show up and take me to the re-education camp or whatever it is these government thugs do.
See, belonging to a religion, like a race and a gender, provides federally protected status. As a federally protected group, you can't say squat against them. Not a peep. Ever. If you do, the federal government comes along and shuts you down.
The only exception to this suspension of the First Amendment is during a period that legal experts refer to as "all the goddam time." I could write post after post after post of Christian bashing -- just as there are entire sites dedicated to racism or sexism or various other species of hate -- and I'm legally golden. The First Amendment doesn't protect only those opinions everyone agrees with. It protects some real offensive, insane stuff.
But that's not what some would have you believe. They'd have you believe that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HR 1913) means the end of religious speech in America, because it adds sexual orientation and gender identity to federal discrimination statutes.
If this passes, religious fanatics argue, it'll be illegal to be a religious fanatic. Mostly because, as anyone from the various wingnut branches of Christianity will tell you, Jesus was all about hating gays -- when he wasn't freaking out about abortion and evolution.
Of course, if the unconstitutionality of restricting religious opinion isn't clear enough, the text of the bill itself reads, "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."
Another section reads, "In a prosecution for an offense under this section, evidence of expression or association of the defendant may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial, unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense. However, nothing in this section affects the rules of evidence governing the impeachment of a witness."
To give you an idea of how contrary to the truth the rhetoric of the religious right has become on this issue, consider this statement released by Concerned Women for America:
[E]xpanding "hate crimes" to include "sexual orientation" and gender identity could put people with traditional values directly in the crosshairs of official government policy. "Hate crimes" laws place us on a slippery slope toward religious persecution. These laws are already being employed as a tool in Brazil, Europe, Canada -- and even right here in America -- to intimidate and silence people who honor natural human sexuality and who value the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman. If a person speaks out against various sexual behaviors, that person may be accused of "hate speech," which could lead to an accusation of associations with "hate crimes."
I'm not sure what laws are already being used to "intimidate and silence people" who hate gays, since CWA releases hateful statements pretty much daily. Seems to me that if it were already illegal to "speak out against various sexual behaviors," all of these concerned women would have to be concerned behind bars. Oddly, this isn't the case.
If CWA's statement doesn't fill your daily requirement of crazy BS, Right Wing Watch has put together a whole bunch more. Turns out that if HR 1913 passes, "The so-called hate crimes bill will be used to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, business owners, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, Christian counselors, religious broadcasters and anyone else whose actions are based upon and reflect the truths found in the Bible." Because, remember, being a Christian is about 95% hating gays -- just like Jesus did.
Of course, some of these people actually are real live, honest to goodness lunatics. They believe Satan is everywhere, since everything they oppose is "of the devil." They believe that a country with few non-Christians in its government really is persecuting Christians and trying to put churches out of business. Mostly because they're crazy.
But others just hate. They need an enemy to fight, so they can feel superior to them. And the more people they hate, the more superior they feel. And, in this battle against these enemies of their own choosing, the haters are losing. Slowly, but surely, they're becoming history. As unlikely as it seems, love really does win out over hate -- it just takes a really, really long time. In time, hating gays will seem as anachronistic and weird as hating the Irish. When that happens, the people who believe they're morally superior are exposed as morally inferior and everything they've believed -- their whole lives -- becomes a joke and a waste. They aren't fighting against the homosexual menace, they're fighting for their own relevance. And they're losing.
Meanwhile, I'm still sitting here waiting for the thought police to come and arrest me for my anti-Christian hate speech. Frankly, I'm starting to doubt it's ever going to happen. I guess federal protection doesn't work that way. It looks like the bigots will get to be just as crazy as they want to be, no matter what law gets passed.
But freedom of speech doesn't guarantee that anyone will listen. If history is any guide, in time, no one will.
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