Free Speech: When Censorship is Imposed, We All Lose
Over at Public Discourse, ADF International Senior Counsel Paul Coleman has this piece on government-imposed censorship.
From the piece:
"After it was accepted that criminalizing speech was a desirable way to produce better citizens, finding a stopping point has proven almost impossible. Although the US has the legal protections for freedom of speech that Europe lacks, a culture of censorship is emerging here as well."
How does Coleman defend this? Just read this story:
"Immediately following last year’s same-sex marriage ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, Pennsylvania news site PennLive published an editorial explaining that 'As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage.' Such opposition was equated with 'homophobia,' which in turn was equated with racism. All of which made the decision 'Pretty Simple.' After a burst of public outcry the paper revised its policy and stated that letters to the editor on the issue of same-sex marriage would be allowed 'for a limited time.'"
Of course, Coleman notes, the decision of an individual newspaper to self-censor is one thing, but a government sanction against certain forms of speech is something else entirely. The U.S. currently has laws protecting freedom of speech (despite the slew of recent issues), but we should always take note when speech is under attack.
Coleman describes the culture of censorship in Europe:
"In the last decade, at least five Catholic bishops have been investigated by the police for mentioning homosexuality during homilies or newspaper interviews.
"In 2007, André-Mutien Léonard, then the Bishop of Namur (and now Belgium’s Archbishop) said in a newspaper interview that marriage is 'by definition, a stable union between a man and a woman' and that homosexuality is 'abnormal.' Léonard was prosecuted by the Belgian authorities for 'stigmatizing' homosexuals but acquitted after the courts ruled that the comments were not severe enough to warrant criminal conviction."
After walking through more examples, Coleman concludes:
"The vast majority of Europe’s 'hate speech' cases go nowhere. In fact, in the examples above, Rollins, McAlpine, and Craven all successfully sued the police for wrongful arrest. Some may suggest, therefore, that there is little to worry about. Free speech wins in the end. But such a response misses the point. The grave danger in Europe’s hate speech laws lies not in successful convictions but in the culture of censorship that the laws create: a culture where the phrase 'you can’t say that' is commonplace, where citizens do not know the line between allowed and not allowed, where everyone feels he or she is walking on eggshells."
Read the rest of his article to learn about both the history of these sorts of laws and the impact they could have in the U.S.
Abortion is Not a Joke
It bothers us that our headline is even necessary. It seems that both sides should agree that abortion is not a joke: Either you believe that abortion is the killing of a baby and thus should not be funny, or you believe that it is a personal, complicated, difficult medical decision that should not be mocked.
And yet, here we are.
The first "joke" we came across was from The Daily Show, which simply read: "Celebrate the #SCOTUS ruling! Go knock someone up in Texas!"
As Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist says:
"Ah, what’s not to love about this comedic genius? Note that it’s directed at men and not at women, since only men can knock up only women. Note that the 'joke' only makes sense if the woman is then aborting the child. And since the ruling was about whether Texas clinics should meet basic health and safety standards (SCOTUS says nope!), the joke is that the woman you abandon after impregnating her will have less-safe clinics to meet all her baby-killing needs.
"[Insert big Ed McMahon ho-ho-ho laugh here]
"Pro-lifers were aghast at the tweet but so were middle-of-the-roaders, leading pro-choice activists to freak out that the tweet wasn’t exactly helpful to the side that advocates unrestricted rights to end the lives of unborn children."