Curbing Free Speech, Left and Right

For most of my adult life, I thought of myself as a slightly-right-of-center moderate but for the last decade or two I’ve been finding that the shrill, irrational  and voices on the far right have pushed me more and more toward the left. People like Ted Cruz seem as dangerous to me as Joe McCarthy back in the 50s because both are agents of mistrust and condemnation. I hate being put in a position where I mistrust and condemn those who foster mistrust and condemnation. It’s like granting a victory for the manipulators. It’s just that I honestly think a person would be a fool to think Ted Cruz or those like him have a clue about the nature of America.

It is not that people on the extreme right have some sort of monopoly on such foolishness. Mozilla, creators of the web browser FireFox, just hired a new CEO. . .who resigned two weeks later. He felt he couldn’t be an effective leader while so many in the software universe were upset that he once donated $1000 to a campaign to outlaw gay marriage in California.

And we say we value free speech. What hypocrisy, what childish hypocrisy. I expect more sense of kindergarten children. We say we are opposed to bullying. That, too, is hypocrisy. The gay community has been practicing bullying for a quarter of a century. This is not freedom at work, it is an abuse of freedom.

If we are offended — as I am — that a company might not hire a Gay person to drive a dump truck, then we must be equally offended that a company might not hire a person for not supporting Gay marriage.

Oh, but this is different, we are told. If you believe marriage is for a man and a woman, you are a Gay-hater, a homophobe, a denigrater of the basic respect all humans deserve. That is nonsense. It is sheer bullying, unworthy of anyone with more sense than a five-year-old, and contributes far more poison to the conversation than nutrition.

Ah, they say, you’re just like those people who fought against integration for the Blacks. No, it is not the same. I am concerned with behavior, not inherent qualities. Our DNA does not, absolutely does not determine our morality.

I’m a strong believer in the conversation that must take place in our society and have to remain open to the possibility that the biblical Lord is leading us to a new understanding of the morality of homosexuality. But the shrill judgments that so commonly mark the conversation now seem to badly weaken their case. They are not fighting for justice, it seems, so much as for power. I cannot respect that and certainly cannot believe that has anything to do with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 

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About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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6 Responses to Curbing Free Speech, Left and Right

  1. pinkagendist says:

    Your position presupposes people must give up their freedom of religion and submit to yours…

    • mthayes42 says:

      Sorry, I cannot quite see what you mean. I was simply putting into words my openness as a Christian to having the Lord change my mind. Since I am quite certain that my beliefs are mistaken in some areas, I always have to remain open to God teaching me something new. I’m not expecting that other people have to describe the process of change in the same way I do and I apologize if I gave that impression.

      But I am a bit confused by your comment. Who, according to my blog entry, is supposed to give up what kind of freedom of religion? Again, sorry if I’m just being a dense reader.

      • pinkagendist says:

        Everyone. Freedom of religion means the women in your family can’t be obliged to wear a Muslim veil. It means Orthodox Jews can’t prohibit others from eating bacon, and it means certain classes of Christians should apply their interpretation of their religion to themselves and leave gays to make their own choices. Hence, freedom of religion.

      • mthayes42 says:

        So “freedom of religion” means I am not free to advocate any convictions about what is good for society and for individuals if anyone else happens to disagree with me? The Bible says we should not murder one another but, by your definition, I cannot argue that murder should be considered a crime because that would be imposing my religion on others. In order to protect your idea of freedom of religion, you seem quite willing to restrict mine.

        Have I misunderstood what you’re saying? If so, I sincerely apologize and ask you to tell me more. Especially help me understand how my view that the state should not legitimate Gay marriage is somehow more pernicious than that a man should be driven from his job for having donated to a campaign which the Gay community does not like.

  2. The point is that Eich went beyond having an opinion. He worked to the detriment of gay people. Equal marriage is good for everyone, even Eich: celebrating diversity frees the gifts of all. That $1000 was spent on making lives slightly more miserable, lives of people who had done no harm and did not deserve it.

    • mthayes42 says:

      Great to hear from you again, Clare. You’re right that Eich went beyond holding an opinion to acting on it but he did so in an open, legal way. In the US right now, we’re returning once again to a question which has long been critical to our understanding of freedom. We know we want freedom of speech and we know there must be some limitations on that freedom. What we must ask now and then is, Just what is speech?

      Currently, our Supreme Court is leaning toward the idea that we must define speech very broadly to include even political donations. Whether we agree with that or not, it does provide the context for our discussion. So in that broad sense, Eich was simply exercising one of those freedoms we hold most dear.

      The question then becomes, Does one group have the right to drive a person from his or her job because of that exercise of freedom? I appreciate your clear way of putting the matter: “Eich . . . worked to the detriment of gay people.” I happen to believe that the Far Right in our country these days is doing deep and long-lasting harm to America but it would be wrong of me — I think — to try to assure that no one who agrees with or donates to the Far Right gets to hold an important job.

      I do not understand why the tendency in the Gay community, at least in America, is to label as “evil” anyone who disagrees with any portion of their agenda. To me, it seems like plain ol’ bullying. Can’t we simply disagree, express our opinion through an exercise of free speech, and not condemn those with whom we disagree?

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