More Free Speech Talk: George Will Edition

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Looking down the blog posts at H&R today, a free speech theme has emerged. In the Sunday Washington Post, conservative columnist George Will discussed how "progressive" fundamentalists use "hate speech" regulations to shut up people they "hate"– uh, I mean, with whom they disagree. In Oakland, Ca., Will reports:

Some African American Christian women working for Oakland's government organized the Good News Employee Association (GNEA), which they announced with a flier describing their group as "a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values."

The flier was distributed after other employees' groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and activities on the city's e-mail system and bulletin board. When the GNEA asked for equal opportunity to communicate by that system and that board, it was denied. Furthermore, the flier they posted was taken down and destroyed by city officials, who declared it "homophobic" and disruptive.

The city government said the flier was "determined" to promote harassment based on sexual orientation. The city warned that the flier and communications like it could result in disciplinary action "up to and including termination."

Effectively, the city has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a "hostile" environment. This, even though gay rights advocates used the city's communication system to advertise "Happy Coming Out Day." Yet the terms "natural family," "marriage" and "family values" are considered intolerably inflammatory.

The treatment of the GNEA illustrates one technique by which America's growing ranks of self-appointed speech police expand their reach: They wait until groups they disagree with, such as the GNEA, are provoked to respond to them in public debates, then they persecute them for annoying those to whom they are responding. In Oakland, this dialectic of censorship proceeded on a reasonable premise joined to a preposterous theory.

The premise is that city officials are entitled to maintain workplace order and decorum. The theory is that government supervisors have such unbridled power of prior restraint on speech in the name of protecting order and decorum that they can nullify the First Amendment by declaring that even the mild text of the GNEA flier is inherently disruptive.

The flier supposedly violated the city regulation prohibiting "discrimination and/or harassment based on sexual orientation." The only cited disruption was one lesbian's complaint that the flier made her feel "targeted" and "excluded." So anyone has the power to be a censor just by saying someone's speech has hurt his or her feelings.

Sigh. Why can't we all just get along? You can say any damned thing that you want and I can say any damned thing I want in response. Just so long as it doesn't disturb our cubicle mates as they type on their computer keyboards. Or better yet, we can agree to stop talking to each other and maintain a mutually disapproving social silence.

One of the best books on the progressives' war against free speech is reason contributor Jonathan Rauch's Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought. Reviewed here in reason.

The whole Will column is here.

Disclosure: My wife and I are members of Equality Virginia and contributed somewhere between $500 and $1000 to EV's campaign to defeat a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Even though I disagree with them, those Oakland ladies should be allowed to say what they think.

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  1. I say let ’em say what they want, but as gov’t employees, all of them should keep it out of the workplace. Go out after work and talk about it, or have a web site or something.
    I don’t live in Oakland, though, so who cares what I think?

  2. They should ban it all.

    If I’m paying taxes to employ these folks, I don’t want them wasting valuable time putting up pro or anti gay messages, I want them performing the job they are paid to do.

    That being said, if they’re going to allow some people to post crap, they should let everyone post crap and tell agitators to grow the hell up.

  3. If gays, witches, Greens, socialized medicinists all get to talk about what they think is important while at their government jobs, then the Christians should be able to too. All get free speech or none get free speech.

  4. It could be worse:

    Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for “Volksverhetzung”
    (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe’s official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are “undemocratic” and “a threat to human rights.”

  5. Give Ron Bailey a “Harumph.”

  6. All get free speech or none get free speech.

    Or better yet, we can agree to stop talking to each other and maintain a mutually disapproving social silence.

    Would it be irony to say “amen”?

  7. As I said in another thread, soon we’ll all be restricted to expressing ourselves in free speech zones, which will consist of cones of silence with single occupants.

    Freedom is okay, provided that your exercise of it jibes with my own values.

  8. “Sigh” is right. This stupid, out-of-control “sensitivity” + one disgruntled lesbian = further ammunition for certain conservatives to use against The Homosexual Lobby.

  9. (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust

    Inciting them to abortion?

    Sorry.

  10. Can’t argue with your analysis of this case. But this notion of “the progressives’ war against free speech” is bogus. There’s plenty of hostility to free speech on the right. Too many people caught up in left vs right polemics selectively point out the other side’s anti-free speech acts, rather than defend free speech on principle. It’s not surprising that Will does this, but why Reason?

  11. Daze,

    So no one should point out anything anti-freedom that any liberal does, because conservatives are anti-freedom, too?
    I suppose no one should ever point out anything anti-freedom that any conservative does, because, you know, liberals are anti-freedom, too.
    We should just keep our mouths shut and grumble to ourselves. Where’s my cone?

  12. My wife works for Le’ State?. of Texas that is. It is amazing what kind of hoops they have to jump through in order to comply when, ya’ know, talking to each other.

    And the ridiculous classes that our tax dollars go to in order to “train” them. Such topics include “civil rights training” (administered once a year!) and “sensitivity training”. The latest policy forbids anyone saying anything insensitive about obesity. Oh and the stories that appear every holiday season over the separation of church and state keep us laughing until March. I swear this shit is straight out of “The Office”. Half of a State employee’s job is learning how to be a State employee. The other half is time spent ratting out anyone who has made a boo-boo (i.e. someone you don’t like personally).

    There are about a hundred ways that “normal conversation” can get a government employee fired at any given time, but the funny thing is that it is impossible to fire any of them!!! No matter how worthless they are, they all sue. So it’s more cost efficient just to keep them around and take them off of all projects.

    I understand the whole “either they all have freedom of speech, or they all shut-up” sentiment, but trust me, it would be soooo much cheaper to just let them just say whatever the hell they want. And then solve disputes based on a “two men enter, one man leave” scenario?in a cage?.or on a log in the river?videotaped and played on you tube of course.

  13. “Harumph.”

    It’s Oakland, so I’m not surprised. As has been pointed out in this forum many times,

    Drumroll please,
    Inoffensive speech does’nt need protection.

    Maybe I’m not a touchy-feely, sensitive type, like the “progressives”, (can we stop these speech-nazis from using that term?) but if I don’t get offended on a regular basis my mind starts to atrophy. Maybe that’s the problem in Oakland. Atrophied minds – it’s worth considering.

  14. But this notion of “the progressives’ war against free speech” is bogus. There’s plenty of hostility to free speech on the right.

    What, if a good proggie does it, it’s not supressing speech?

    Daze, it’s their turn to get the brand on the ass for their thuggish behavior. It’ll be the right’s turn soon enoungh, but I don’t see conservatives out stealing college newspapers or protesting for even more oppressive speech codes.

    Deal with it.

  15. “So no one should point out anything anti-freedom that any liberal does, because conservatives are anti-freedom, too? I suppose no one should ever point out anything anti-freedom that any conservative does, because, you know, liberals are anti-freedom, too.”

    If Hit & Run linked to a Z magazine piece about the “Bushitler regime’s war on free speech”, with comments by the Reason blogger supporting the idea that only right-wingers ever tried to suppress their ideological foes’ free speech, I’d be just as frustrated.

  16. “I don’t see conservatives out stealing college newspapers or protesting for even more oppressive speech codes.”

    Maybe you’re not looking hard enough. Found at today’s LGF:

    http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=28816

    A conservative journalist whines that a pro-Palestinian UC-Berkeley student consistently criticized him on a blogspot blog, and neither Berkeley nor Google would help him shut down the blog.

  17. […]comments by the Reason blogger supporting the idea that only right-wingers ever tried to suppress their ideological foes’ free speech[…]

    Juh?

    Mr Bailey, did say that progressives were the only ones who ever tried to suppress their opponents’ speech?

  18. “with comments by the Reason blogger supporting the idea that only right-wingers ever tried to suppress their ideological foes’ free speech”

    Straw-man argument too dense to be really worth responding too. Nothing in Bailey’s comments remotely supported the idea that only left-wingers ever try to suppress free speech. Reason bloggers, despite their many other failings and posturings, are generally pretty good about defending the freedom of speech they disagree with, whether coming from the left or the right — something the now ultra-left wing ACLU used to pretend to do.

  19. This is just a back door way to ban Christianity. Like it or not the New Testiment is very specific about homosexuality being a sin. You may disagree with that and all those who do are and should be free to go tell Christians how wrong they are. Christians, however, should be free to tell those who disagree with them how wrong they are. The gay lobby doesn’t see it that way and if they had their way would use state power to sanction or imprison anyone who uttered a word against them. Now of course there are nutso Christians who would like to use the force of the law to ban homosexuality and go back to the days of throwing gays in jail. Could someone please explain to me how either or the two groups (the homosexual lobby and the nutso Christians who want to crinimalize sodomy) are any less loathsome?

  20. A conservative journalist whines that a pro-Palestinian UC-Berkeley student consistently criticized him on a blogspot blog, and neither Berkeley nor Google would help him shut down the blog.

    Daze:
    I didn’t read it that way at all. Libel – illegal. Doesn’t seem to hard to understand. If I were too libel Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson etc., I would be liable as well, as it should be.

    On your other point, bloggers here are generally against supression of free speech, from the right or the left. Look at the response to criminalizing flag desecration proposals.

  21. Since nobody but me and Highnumber gave Mr. Bailey a “Harumph” – You better watch your ass!

  22. “something the now ultra-left wing ACLU used to pretend to do.”

    yeah, it sucks the way the ACLU is left-wingingly defending the “God hates fags” people

  23. Thanks for the catch, J sub D!

    Harumph harumph harumph.

    This is just a back door way to ban Christianity.

    Oh, well, then maybe it’s not so bad. Give a little, get a little.

    And you said “back door.” Snort. Giggle. Heh.

  24. As an Oakland resident, I say the biggest problem here is that it’s a crime-infested shithole with a city government that that ranges from corrupt at one end of the scale to lackadaisical at the other. I think the City of Oakland would do well to overlook the sensitivities of one or even 1000 gay city employees and concentrate on the murders, assaults, and rampant and blatant drug-dealing and prostitution that plague our city’s streets on a continuous basis. But I have little hope that these ills will be addressed with effective long-term strategies. The city is too busy taking private property and building condos to try and attract the yuppies who can’t afford to buy in San Francisco over to our side of the bay. But without addressing the endemic disamenities, to put it delicately, that Oaklanders have to bear, the condos will sit empty and not do a thing to help the city’s tax base or change its demographics.

    Anyhow, I’ll stop because I really could go on and on.

  25. “yeah, it sucks the way the ACLU is left-wingingly defending the “God hates fags” people”

    I had in mind this arch-hypocrisy opposing efforts to ensure that women considering abortion are informed about the evidence linking induced abortion with increased breast cancer risk:
    http://www.aclu.org/reproductiverights/abortion/16523res19970201.html

    Generally, the ACLU is nominally very pro-informed consent, and doesn’t have any qualms about recognizing the legal duty of doctors to inform patients of all material risks and potential risks associated with a proposed medical procedure.

    For more on the law and science relating to the abortion-breast cancer link, see my law review article on the subject posted at http://www.proinformation.net, or the following lengthy debate in the comments section of a post on Volokh Conspiracy:

    http://volokh.com/posts/1164052564.shtml

  26. I didn’t get a harumph outta that guy.

  27. Does the New Testament actually address homosexuality? It’s been a long day, and I’m not a biblical scholar, but I don’t recall any talk by Jesus about gays.

    The Old Testament is another matter, of course.

  28. What is all this harumphing/hrumphing? I harumphed last year with nary a comment.

  29. Jesus did have one disciple that he loved. Probably a guy.

  30. I think “harumph” is different than “hrumph.”
    The first one is a sound of approval. The second is a sound of befuddlement and dissatisfaction. The first is made as part of a group. The second always made alone to one’s self.

  31. Wasn’t that his brother, which the Church likes to deny him having? Yes, the Bible says that Mary had sex! Ha! I said it!

  32. Pro L – Since you asked: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” ~ Romans 1:25-27.

  33. Fair enough. I tend to just count the four gospels. Paul had some issues of his own when it came to sexual matters, as I recall.

  34. Do you know anyone that doesn’t?

  35. So Jesus was getting it on with his brother?
    Kinky.
    I guess gay sex with a sibling doesn’t have the risks of hetero sex with a sibling, so it’s not so bad. Good for Jesus, then!

  36. So Jesus was getting it on with his brother?

    No.

  37. I’m started to offend, aren’t I?

    I’m sorry. Jesus was cool. I’m down with what Lennon said about him.

  38. Are you so hostile to someone you never met because he’s too way out for you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. Comment withdrawn; url retained.

  40. Btw, the offense isn’t against someone’s feelings, which would too trivial to merit a response, but (some say) rather against Reason, aka the Logos.

  41. M,

    As a Christian/Quaker libertarian/anarchist I appreciate this link. Looks quite long, but well worth reading.

    John Kindley

  42. That Romans passage is the only reference to homosexuality in the entire New Testament (I think).

    The only comment Jesus made about sexual sin was “He who is without sin cast the first stone”.

  43. John K – “…Apollos watereth…

  44. Although on a re-look at the subtitle, I’m not fond of the term (and perhaps the philosophy of) anarcho-capitalism. I prefer the individual anarchists like Lysander Spooner (despite being a deist who famously rejected the supernatural evidences for Christianity) who were anti-government but not very fond of capitalism per se either (although Spooner did advocate that everyone be self-employed rather than work for someone else for wages).

    I’m ready to believe that Jesus was an anarchist, but it’ll take some compelling arguments to convince me that he was indeed also a “capitalist.” On that score, I think there’s a lot to be said for Catholic Social Teaching, which is often classified as “distributivism,” except to the extent that it imagines government to have a role in engineering a just social order.

  45. “Does the New Testament actually address homosexuality? It’s been a long day, and I’m not a biblical scholar, but I don’t recall any talk by Jesus about gays.”

    It is important to distinguish btw Paul and Jesus when discussing this issue. Paul wrote many things that seem to be in direct contradiction to the teachings attributed to Jesus. So, the new testament talks about homosexuality, but not Jesus.

    Lord Jubjub identifies the important passage.

    A quick discussion.
    http://www.stjohnsmcc.org/new/about/homosexuality.html

  46. John K – Surely your care does not constitute hairsplitting, all such distinctions being very worth sorting out and evaluating. And yet in the current climate I’m relieved to find allies where I can, hence my loyalty to H&R, I hope not on the model of Solomon’s famous pooch. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  47. I’m with Daze on the fatuousness of the phrase “the progressives’ war against free speech.”

    Whether it was meant to imply that only progressives hate free speech, or to narrow the discussion to a single front in the battle, it says more about Mr. Bailey than progressives.

  48. “I’m sorry. Jesus was cool.”

    No.
    Jesus was WAY cool.
    King Missile _Mystical Shit_ Shimmy Disc

    Jesus was way cool
    Everybody liked Jesus
    Everybody wanted to hang out with him
    Anything he wanted to do, he did
    He turned water into wine
    And if he wanted to
    He could have turned wheat into marijuana
    Or sugar into cocaine
    Or vitamin pills into amphetamines

    He walked on the water
    And swam on the land
    He would tell these stories
    And people would listen
    He was really cool

    If you were blind or lame
    You just went to Jesus
    And he would put his hands on you
    And you would be healed
    That’s so cool

    He could’ve played guitar better than Hendrix
    He could’ve told the future
    He could’ve baked the most delicious cake in the world
    He could’ve scored more goals than Wayne Gretzky
    He could’ve danced better than Barishnikov
    Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of
    Jesus was way cool

    He told people to eat his body and drink his blood
    That’s so cool
    Jesus was so cool
    But then some people got jealous of how cool he was
    So they killed him
    But then he rose from the dead
    He rose from the dead, danced around
    Then went up to heaven
    I mean, that’s so cool
    Jesus was way cool

    No wonder there are so many Christians

    Of course there was that junk habit he had to overcome…

    Well, I never really understood religions,
    Except it seems a good reason to kill.
    Everybody’s got their own conceptions,
    And you know, they always will.
    These days are needles under my skin.
    Jesus shootin’ heroin.

    If there are priests at your party,
    And you’re playing cards that are numbered,
    And you got no reason to think it,
    Until your chances are uncovered.
    Tell me that I got to believe in,
    Jesus shootin’ heroin.

    The police in New York city,
    Chased a boy, right through the park.
    In a case of mistaken identities,
    They put a bullet through his heart.

    I met Mary, on the corner with the streetlights.
    She asked me if I’d come up to her room.
    I told her that I didn’t have no money.
    She said she had to leave pretty soon.
    I decided that I would go in.
    Jesus shootin’ heroin.

    http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the_flaming_lips/hear_it_is/

  49. Whether it was meant to imply that only progressives hate free speech, or to narrow the discussion to a single front in the battle, it says more about Mr. Bailey than progressives.

    Lemmee put it another way: We expect it from the righties. That it comes from the left more so these days is just all the more criminal, considering what foot the shoe was on not too long ago.

    Nothing like taking an axe to a basic ideal to advance the party line.

  50. I think if you do a little background research on Mr. Bailey you’ll find that he is on the “progressive,” lefty end of the spectrum of libertarians and other Reason bloggers. He is, after all, a self-described “transhumanist” who in a recent post expressed the belief that medical research just might be a public good justifying forced contributions from taxpayers.

    I interpret this post as pencance for that last one and an attempt to balance his image.

  51. Lemmee put it another way: We expect it from the righties. That it comes from the left more so these days is just all the more criminal, considering what foot the shoe was on not too long ago.

    Nothing like taking an axe to a basic ideal to advance the party line.

    JW – I dare say that sums it up very well. When the republicans started spending like drunken sailors, libertarians were on them like siink on shit. Why, because we expect it from democrats, not republicans. It’s the hypocrosy of it all that rankles the most.

  52. A mass-email was sent out to all students at Yale last fall advertising a spoof group called N.O.G.A.Y.S.- the National Organization to Gain Acceptance for Your Sins – on National Coming Out Day.

    The Yale administration took the perpetrators before a disciplinary committee for sending an unsolicited mass email, despite the fact that fraternities send mass emails all the time advertising parties.

    The kicker is that in the spring the Yale Gay/Lesbian Co-Op sent out an unsolicited mass email to all students, and then were clueless as to why anyone would consider them hypocrites for pressing the administration to hassle the NOGAYS emailers.

    They really do just use “hate speech” as a shield against those THEY hate. Spot-on, George Will.

  53. Lord Jubjub,

    The only comment Jesus made about sexual sin was “He who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    Only?

    You left out “Go and sin no more.”

  54. Lord Jubjub,

    Just to rub it in, Im finding others, to prove your only as wrong as possible:

    “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    “Anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

    “For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’;”

    “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

    Those are from a quick skim of just Matthew. I left out 2 adultery references that were functionally similar to the ones I quoted.

  55. M,

    Cool, but long essay. I’ll read more of it later.

    I meant that about Jesus being (way) cool. I’m not a Christian – I don’t believe the man ever told anyone to worship him nor do I believe that he meant to imply that he was more divine than anyone else.
    I’m sorry I got out of hand earlier.
    I do love learning more about the man and what he has meant to people who have really taken the time to learn about him separate from what Paul, in particular, and the rest of his followers made of his memory.

  56. I meant that about Jesus being (way) cool.

    I had that sense.

    I’m not a Christian

    I had that sense too (others here would say that that’s sense you have, on which point I beg demurral)

    I got out of hand

    Heh. Heh-heh. Te absolvo.

    Re: Paul, I have no problem with him. Jesus holds no monopoly on being misunderstood, and sometimes Paul was speaking to his time and out of his own attempt to understand something very new.

    Glad you keep an open mind. Even some of us Christers try to do the same.

    * Group hug! *

  57. Get a room, you two.

  58. 1. I, for one, am perfectly happy to take George Will’s word for it when he tells us how inoccuous the flier was.

    2. What’s with the fasle equivalence? A notice written to celebrate, for example, the legacy of Martin Luther King (“…for his heroic contribution in bringing about legal equality among different races…”) is not the equivalent of a notice written to disparage the legacy of Martin Luther King (“…for the pernicious harm of his false doctrine that other races are the equal of the white race…”).

    If this notice was condemning gay people and accusing them of harming people and corrupting society, that is a verbal assault on them. Its meaning contains an element of hostility towards a segment of the population, including the readership and the workplace as a whole, that is not present in a notice for a group with the opposite agenda.

    Get back to me when someone uses the email system to condemn straight people. Then you’ll have a legitimate chance to look for a double standard.

  59. I personally have only one litmus test with respect to free speech. It’s not perfect and there’ll be plenty who disagree with it (which is fine; that’s rather what ‘free speech’ is about anyway).

    I would protect the right of anyone to say whatever he/she wishes, up to the point where he/she advocates infringing the rights of others. To me, the ‘right’ to take away another’s rights, absent the due process of law, cannot be granted by any God or any government.

    Therefore, by my personal yardstick, to say “I hate (group)” would be protected speech. But to say, for instance, “Kill the (group)”, or “send the (group) back where they came from”, or “cure the (group) of their (groupness)”, or “silence the (group)” would not.

    How would I apply this to, for instance, the workplace? Would I permit a Christian discussion group? Would I permit a GLBT discussion group? Unfortunately, in both cases we run into the danger of supporting “silence the other guy” speech. I would probably feel forced to have no non-work-related discussion groups at all.

  60. Alan A,

    I think you need to work on your formulation a bit. Your litmus test is pretty strict.

    How about this one…

    “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.”

    It is about Congress making laws, not work places making policies, but the no “abridging” pretty much says it all. No blanket policy, just a case by case evaluation of the claims of harm.

  61. While joe is towing the BS party line as to “hostile work environments,” he has a point about using .org/.com/.gov network systems to disseminate anything not related to the business.

    It isn’t worth it any more. Too many people have a self-righteous stick surgically implanted in their ass these days to even think about spamming the company/department/whatever with their pet projects. And frankly, I don’t want to hear about your quilting club/animal rescue league/body piercing collage. It’s not that I’m not offended, I just don’t care.

    If a company/organization/whatever is smart, it will just say “no” to everything not related to the core business. The staff is inconvenienced, boo-hoo, but you are now free of legal quagmires, labor law minefields and squirrely ass sticks.

    If you want to tell everyone, start a blog or put it on your MySpace page.

  62. Joe,

    Not being a Christian, I can’t be certain about this, but I think it would be safe to assume that a Christian with strong feelings about the immorality of homosexuality might very well feel that workplace advertisments for lifestyles that they perceive as wrong could in fact constitute hostility or even verbal assault. I don’t feel the same way, but it’s not any more unreasonable than the assertion that a flier putting forth a traditional definition of marriage is hostile.

    I think it clearly is a double standard. There’s no principled way to use government to shut one group up and let the other be. Anyone can claim that virtually any comment addressing any group in any way makes them feel uncomfortable or creates a hostile environment. The point is that the laws that allow this sort of suppression of speech cannot be applied equally or fairly, and that the law will largely serve as a beating stick for the group with the most political power or the most elected judges on their side to hush those they disagree with.

    And that’s wrong. Every time.

  63. Matthew,

    “Gay people are OK” does not equal “Christians are bad.”

    “Gay people are bad” equals “Christians are bad.”

    Yes, some people from a majority, who are used to having the world organized according to their preferences, might not like to hear that other people are doing things they do not like. Having to hear that, however, is not the same thing as being attacked or denounced.

    The standard here is should not be whether someone who is determined to pick a fight feels something; the standard should be whether the words themselves denounce people, or not.

    Like I said, I don’t trust George Will enough to take his word about how harmless this message was.

    BTW, your thumping on about THE LAW THE LAW THE LAW is irrelevant here. This is about an employer operating a work site. Employers have every right to make sure that their workplaces are operating smoothly, without unnecessary conflict. If two guys in cubes were swearing at each other, their boss would have every right to tell them to knock it off.

    This is just an extension of that – are people using a means of workplace communication in a similar manner?

  64. Paul wrote many things that seem to be in direct contradiction to the teachings attributed to Jesus.

    Sure, if “seem to be” is read as equivalent to “are not.”

  65. Joe,

    I see where you’re coming from, but my point is that to a Christian who’s put off by homosexuality, “Gay pride is OK in the workplace” my very well equal “Christians are not ok in the workplace”. The standard you put forth could easily be used by Christians in a way I don’t think you intend. Why is it not valid for them to feel attacked or denounced, or that a “hostile workplace environment” is created by a lifestyle they feel is offensive being promoted? Again, I don’t feel that way, but I don’t see why the law would work only the one way and not the other.

    And this isn’t simply about an employer maintaining a civil workplace. It’s about the government (who is the employer) citing a city regulation to prohibit one group’s speech at another’s behest.

    Using such a subjective and individual standard, such as whether the words denounce people, is useful on an interpersonal basis, but making legal distinctions that restrict speech that way is not proper. It’s something that can’t be proven or disproven. As my previous post stated, this is the sort of law that’s used and applied based purely on what group has the most political clout. That’s not ok. Ever.

  66. Also,

    I did just go look for more information on the flier itself; although I couldn’t find an image of it, there is nothing in the court decision’s text that states that the defendants claimed anything less innocuous was in the flier than what Mr. Will put forth in his article. They just wanted their opponents to not be able to speak. And they got their way. Sad.

  67. Seamus,

    Christ: “Look at the birds of the field: they do not sow, nor do they reap, yet God provides for them.”

    Paul: “He who does not work, does not eat.”

  68. Matthew,

    Why is it not valid for them to feel attacked or denounced, or that a “hostile workplace environment” is created by a lifestyle they feel is offensive being promoted?

    Because nobody is saying or doing a single thing to, or about, them. It’s the difference between filing a police report because your neighbor punched you, and filing a police report because your neighbor is taking karate. You only have a legitimate complaint if someone does something to you. Simply doing something that has nothing to do with you, but which you disapprove of, is not the same thing at all.

    And no, whether someone’s speech insults, denounces, or otherwise assails a person is not a subjective standard, any more than whether a someone is shadow boxing or punching people. It can be proven or disproven. The key to doing so is to put the actual meaning of the words front and center, not the feelings of the reader.

  69. Paul sounds like the singer from Sheer Terror:

    “If I may be as so bold, you don’t work, you don’t live in an apartment.”

  70. I’m a Christian, and I feel intimidated by the gay rights promotions that go on in my workplace. I’ve known a number of gay rights groups to say horrible things about conservative Christians, and I feel threatened by the promotion of that anti-Christian bigotry. My workplace is hostile.

    Prove me wrong.

  71. You only have a legitimate complaint if someone does something to you. Simply doing something that has nothing to do with you, but which you disapprove of, is not the same thing at all.

    Well then, nobody should be complaining about the bible-thumpers, should they?

    Oh right, it’s only intolerance when scary Jesus people say it.

  72. To be clear, we’re talking about hurt feelings here, not any form of physical violence. I know you know better than to directly compare the two.

  73. Paul wrote many things that seem to be in direct contradiction to the teachings attributed to Jesus.

    Sure, if “seem to be” is read as equivalent to “are not.”

    * * * * *

    Seamus,

    Christ: “Look at the birds of the field: they do not sow, nor do they reap, yet God provides for them.”

    Paul: “He who does not work, does not eat.”

    So, by “many things,” we mean “one thing”?

    Oh, wait, not even one thing: those two statement doen’t “directly contradict” one another. The implications of one might be held to contradict those of the other, but that’s at best indirect contradiction.

    Of course, if you go on to read what Jesus said after that “look at the birds sentence,” you find, not that he told people not to work (and of course birds *do* work; they just don’t sow or reap), but that he told them to “be not anxious” and to “seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.” I don’t see any contradiction between working and seeking the kingdom of God, but maybe I’m missing something.

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