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The Nation Institute Fellow Calls for Suppression of Speech by "the Radical Christian Right":

From American Fascists by Chris Hedges, Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute, former reporter for the New York Times and NPR, and (paragraph break added):

This is the awful paradox of tolerance. There arise moments when those who would destroy the tolerance that makes an open society possible should no longer be tolerated. They must be held accountable by institutions that maintain the free exchange of ideas and liberty.

The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans. They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication. They must be made to treat their opponents with respect and acknowledge the right of a fair hearing even as they exercise their own freedom to disagree with their opponents.

Passivity in the face of the rise of the Christian Right threatens the democratic state. And the movement has targeted the last remaining obstacles to its systems of indoctrination, mounting a fierce campaign to defeat hate-crime legislation, fearing the courts could apply it to them as they spew hate talk over the radio, television and Internet.

And to the extent there's some ambiguity about whether he's calling for legal suppression (which "denied the right" seems to strongly suggest) or just social pressure, he seems to have clarified it in favor of legal suppression (and "hate crimes legislation" in the sense of bans on supposed hate speech) on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Jan. 25, 2007:

JIM (Caller): Yes. Yes, I am. I needed to ask the author -- I mean, I myself am a Christian, but I wouldn't even somewhat agree with Pat Roberts. But the author stating that you need to restrict someone's free speech just for mere words, he's advocating -- I mean, what he's advocating is fascism, is he (unintelligible)? ...

Mr. HEDGES: I think that, you know, in a democratic society, people don't have a right to preach the extermination of others, which has been a part of this movement of - certainly in terms of what should be done with homosexuals. You know, Rushdoony and others have talked about 18 moral crimes for which people should be executed, including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and all - in order for an open society to function, it must function with a mutual respect, with a respect...

JIM: Sure.

Mr. HEDGES: ...for other ways to be and other ways to believe. And I think that the fringes of this movement have denied people that respect, which is why they fight so hard against hate crimes legislation -- such as exist in Canada -- being made law in the United States.

[NEAL] CONAN: But Chris, to be fair, aren't you talking about violating their right to free speech, their right to religion as laid out in the First Amendment?

Mr. HEDGES: Well, I think that when you preach -- or when you call for the physical extermination of other people within the society, you know, you've crossed the bounds of free speech. I mean, we're not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan. Yet the kinds of things that are allowed to be spewed out over much of Christian radio and television essentially preaches sedition. It preaches civil war. It's not a difference of opinion. With that kind of rhetoric, it becomes a fight for survival....

George Lyon (mail):
I wonder if this guy would say the same thing about Islamofascists who actually do preach hate and the extermination of "infidels."
1.29.2007 3:11pm
wooga:
No George, haven't you heard? Islam means 'peace,' and you are an evil bigot for suggesting otherwise. In fact, your suggestion makes you an evil amerikkkan, and you should be forcibly silenced lest you incite hate crimes against muslims.
1.29.2007 3:18pm
Bpbatista (mail):
How about restricting the "hate speech" of people like Louis Farrakan, Al Sharpton, CAIR and other left-wing and/or anti-American folks? Don't hold your breath. The real fascists are the people who see Christians as a threat and want to shut them up.
1.29.2007 3:20pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
One person using public funds to stifle another person's private speech in the name of "tolerance."

It'd be funny if more people got the joke...
1.29.2007 3:20pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I didn't realize that Christian Reconstructionists were thick enough on the ground to be worth worrying about. Sounds like they're just suggesting criminal law reforms.

The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans.

Fairness Doctrine here we come.
1.29.2007 3:25pm
Tertium Quid (mail) (www):
The rule of limiting free speech is that the speech must pose a threat of immediate harm, such as inciting a mob to lynch a criminal suspect being taken out of the local jail. I've heard all kinds of unkind words declaring that such-and-such person or group didn't deserve to live. Fortunately, I have not ever listened to such words and thought imminent harm was probable.

If you want the Christian Right not to be dangerous, then free speech is your best friend. Let blow-hards be blow-hards. However, almost any religion or non-religion driven underground is going to nurture any criminal elements within it.

Censoring speech through anti-hate codes would eventually backfire on those protected, though I'm sure many would get great pleasure in using the laws of the United States to censor Jerry Falwell and his less famous brethren. Hugo Black was a Baptist from Alabama who had heard a lot of preachers spew fire, water, oil, and smoke, but in his Baptist way, he saw the First Amendment as literal and inerrant. Justice Black knew that ultimately America cannot be free for just me and my friends. It needs to be free even for the self-righteous clerics and revolutionary agitators who would preach hatred against all but a few.

Those who want speech codes will think they are fine until the codes are turned against them. Remember how Robespierre died.
1.29.2007 3:27pm
r78:
Sounds like an agenda item for President Hillary.

We are at war and in times of war people expect their civil liberties to be curtailed. So far we have had rightwing Christian terrorist attacks on our soil by Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph - we either have to fight the terrorists over there or we will have to fight them here. (Okay that last part will need to be tweaked.)
1.29.2007 3:28pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Is this idiot a lawyer who's preaching for the infringement of Christians basic civil liberties and first amendment rights? If so, should we file grievances against him seeking his disbarment for his speech ala Stimson?

I wonder if all those who agreed with trying to suppress Stimson's speech by going for his bar license would support thousands of fundamental Christians filing grievances against this guy were he a lawyer?

Second question where does this guy get this crap about talk radio and christian TV preaching for the physical extermination of homosexuals and others. I've never seen or heard this ever, and I've been listening from time to time.

My suspician is that anyone not preaching the PC line that agrees with his thoughts on these issues is interpreted by him to me they speaker is preaching extermination, and then he calls for their forced re-education/suppression and then says *THEY* are the fascists.

The Chutzpah of the left wing PC moonbats seems to have no bounds. I mean a book calling for the abolition of the free speech and free exercise rights through the use of unconstitutional criminal laws (like hate speech laws and others) being titled "Fascists In America" is pretty damn amazingly ironic and humorous. Too bad such idiots are not just fools deserving of laughter and derision but also quite dangerous at the same time.

Guys like this scare me way more than some harmless old believer like Pat Robertson.

Says the "Dog"
1.29.2007 3:29pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"In a recorded interview with Time Magazine[2] he professed his belief in "a God". The Guardian reported that McVeigh wrote a letter claiming to be an agnostic[3]."

I'd never heard anything linking McVeigh to religion before, and wikipedia was easy. I think you're full of it. Please retract or clarify?
1.29.2007 3:32pm
wooga:
Seriously though - I wouldn't theoretically be opposed to a shift against Brandenburg, assuming it was in fact done uniformly and without regard to the target. Generally inflammatory speech has little social value, and could be shuffled over into one of the 'non-protected' categories of speech.

However, the reason I said 'theoretically' is that I do not trust our lower level judiciary to be uniform in any application of the first amendment. Being far too self-absorbed, these judges (and folks like Hedges) view that "if the speech is offensive, it should be illegal" rather than "if the speaker intended to incite violence [insert temporal limit], it should be illegal."

When the criteria is 'offensive,' it becomes a de facto heckler's veto. Moreover, when the person making the 'offensive' determination has his own biases (as we all do), he will invariably make 'offensive' determinations in a non-uniform manner. Thus Hedges will find no anti-christian or anti-joooo speech offensive, and would find nearly any anti-muslim speech as offensive, merely by virtue of its being directed against a politically powerless minority.

Just look at his trademark views on christian fundamentalist condemnation of sodomy, and his insistence on equating this with a call for genocide against homosexuals. Status =/ behavior, at least post-Romer and pre-Lawrence.
1.29.2007 3:33pm
Alan P (mail):
It is a no brainer to say that this kind of restriction violates the first amendment and all we should stand for as a country.

I do pose one small caveat.

Does tolerance mean that we must tolerate the intolerant?
1.29.2007 3:34pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yes. Anything less becomes "Tolerance for me, but not for thee"
1.29.2007 3:36pm
r78:


I'd never heard anything linking McVeigh to religion before, and wikipedia was easy. I think you're full of it. Please retract or clarify?

That information comes from our allies. Also, he had several meetings with people who were admitted Christians. All you have to do is connect the dots . . .
1.29.2007 3:39pm
George Lyon (mail):
To paraphrase one of the former justices, not sure which one, the best answer to bad speech is good speech.
1.29.2007 3:41pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
*shrug*

I've seen the claim made seriously before, and although your last post was obviously tongue-in-cheek, there was no indication that the part claiming McVeigh was a "christian terrorist" was.

As long as we're clear...
1.29.2007 3:41pm
rarango (mail):
The Dog says it pretty well, I think. I find it difficult to believe anyone would say this. I have never thought too much of the "slippery slope," argument, but this isnt a slope: its a yawning crevasse.
1.29.2007 3:41pm
Huh:
Well, I'm not a big fan of anyone calling for the extermination of others over a difference in religious beliefs.

Note that, in America, if an "islamofascist" organization calls for the extermination and destruction of others, they're inviting at a minimum some serious scrutiny from the Feds, and they risk having their funds frozen or cut off. I hope the same kinds of investigations befall other organizations of whatever origin if they agitate for the execution of others. But I would add that I think there's a difference between saying "there oughtta be a law" or "society should execute such and such" on one hand, and "listeners should go find _____ and execute them." I think both are positively evil, but only the latter seems actionable. That is, I'd call the police if I heard the latter (and I have done so before). I think the former should be protected.

For reasons Eugene's stated many times already, speech (even despicable speech) should be protected. I'm all for giving the nuts enough rope to hang themselves. I much prefer that to letting the government do it.
1.29.2007 3:42pm
Kazinski:
I think people are purposely misconstruing what Chris Hedges is saying. He is only talking about supressing incorrect speach. He is trying to save our freedoms, it just that sometimes you need to destroy a thing in order to save it.

We are all facists now.
1.29.2007 3:45pm
Steve P. (mail):
r78 - when your argument is that 'all you have to do is connect the dots', you're admitting you have no proof.

JLD - I was agreeing with the basic idea of your post until I got to the 'left wing PC moonbat' tripe. You know how to play to your audience.
1.29.2007 3:46pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Yeah I stopped reading there too...
1.29.2007 3:46pm
Jeff S.:
Generally inflammatory speech has little social value, and could be shuffled over into one of the 'non-protected' categories of speech.

I'm not a legal scholar, but is the "social value" of speech a basis for protecting it or not?
1.29.2007 3:49pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Hedges is absolutely right. We've got to stop letting people like him express their virulent hatred of aChristianity. The man and others like him clearly have to be silenced. They have no place in a liberal society. NPR ought to be shut down for allowing him a forum.
1.29.2007 3:49pm
Adeez (mail):
The intellectually honest, non-liberals can ignore the following. But for all others who do not consider themselves liberals or progressives: THIS IS NOT A LIBERAL POSITION!!! I know so many are dying to start crying "oh, what liberal hypocrites!; they want to ban all speech that they disagree with!!!"

Wrong. This is one misguided man. Sorry, but I will go out on a limb and say that most self-respecting liberals will vehemently disagree with banning speech. Unlike the Rush-Hannity crowd, we have the courage of our convictions and stick to our guns. This guy is no more representative of liberals as Michael Savage is of Republicans.
1.29.2007 3:50pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):
"Free speech makes it easier to spot the idiots." --James Taranto.
1.29.2007 3:50pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
So we don't have to worry about the Fairness Doctrine then?
1.29.2007 3:51pm
Redman:
I suppose there might be some "religious" groups who advocate exterminating some people . . . other than the followers of Islam, but I'm not familiar with them. And, if they exist, I don't think I'll worry about them.

I'd prefer to worry about the people who control the mainstream media and who occupy many seats in Congress and the Senate who believe that a person who insults one of their sheltered constituencies, such as the blacks or the gays, should be sent off for counselling . . . so they can be "re educated" and "get their mind right."

We've seen this twice lately. Michael Richards and his outburst against blacks, and just last week with this actor fellow who slurred his gay co-star. Both "eagerly" agreed to go off somewhere for counselling.

No, its not the religious types who scare me, its the secularists, who claim to answer to no one.
1.29.2007 3:53pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):

Wrong. This is one misguided man. Sorry, but I will go out on a limb and say that most self-respecting liberals will vehemently disagree with banning speech.

I hope so. But I was at the University of Michigan during their repeated attempts to impose speech codes on students. That was quite--shall we say--illuminating. "No free speech for fascists!" was a not-uncommon rallying cry by the predecessor organizations to BAMN. They defined "fascist" as "to the right of Castro."
1.29.2007 3:54pm
BobNSF (mail):
It's a bit disturbing that so many seem to see themselves and other regular Christians when someone criticizes the "radical Christian right". Sloppiness often leads people in a debate to conflate the larger community with the extremists, but there is a fringe group out there and they are dangerous.
1.29.2007 3:56pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Wrong. This is one misguided man. Sorry, but I will go out on a limb and say that most self-respecting liberals will vehemently disagree with banning speech. Unlike the Rush-Hannity crowd, we have the courage of our convictions and stick to our guns. This guy is no more representative of liberals as Michael Savage is of Republicans.


Since the issue raised by this “one misguided man” was the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” is it your position then that most liberals will oppose it?

Oh and I would be curious if you could provide us with actual examples of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity in favor of banning political speech that they disagree with.
1.29.2007 3:57pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It's a bit disturbing that so many seem to see themselves and other regular Christians when someone criticizes the "radical Christian right". Sloppiness often leads people in a debate to conflate the larger community with the extremists, but there is a fringe group out there and they are dangerous.


Maybe it’s because “regular Christians” realize that the sort of morons who throw around epitaphs like "radical Christian right" probably think that they’re part of it.
1.29.2007 3:59pm
BobNSF (mail):

Maybe it’s because “regular Christians” realize that the sort of morons who throw around epitaphs like "radical Christian right" probably think that they’re part of it.


Sigh. Give me a name to call those people who advocate the creation of a theocracy based on their interpretation of the Christian bible. Please. I'll gladly use your term (and not theirs) to describe them, so that you'll understand who I mean.

By the way, the FBI tracks some of those organizations. I guess the FBI must be comprised of morons, as well.
1.29.2007 4:04pm
Mark Field (mail):
Ah, how the worm turns.

I fondly remember when conservatives told us we had to restrict the free speech rights of communists because they would use those rights to destroy our freedoms. Some of you older readers may even remember those horrible Islamofascists who needed to be suppressed for the same reason. Can you believe one of them even wanted to use the Koran in a private ceremony?

I wonder who it was who insisted on upholding principle in the face of such attacks. Guess we should thank them now that our own rights are in danger from Chris Hedges (a majority of one, I'm guessing).
1.29.2007 4:04pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Rush did say recently that the war on terror would require a "rethinking of how we perceive freedom of speech" or something along those lines.
1.29.2007 4:05pm
Jeff S.:
BobNSF,

He's not just criticizing the "radical Christian right", he's proposing to abridge free speech. You don't have to "conflate the larger community with the extremists" to see that.

When I read comments like this one of yours I suspect that you worry that any criticism of an enemy or your enemy equals support for your enemy. If the radical Christian right or whatever fringe group you allude to is as dangerous as you warn, it won't be made any more or less so by criticizing Hedges.
1.29.2007 4:07pm
JohnAnnArbor (www):

It's a bit disturbing that so many seem to see themselves and other regular Christians when someone criticizes the "radical Christian right".

So, you think we should be cool with speech suppression, as long as it isn't our speech being suppressed?
1.29.2007 4:08pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I've never understood why advocates of censorship don't understand that censorship just feeds the persecution complex that so many extremists have and gives their views greater credibility. The answer to vicious speech is more speech, not censorship.

Although it is true that at present advocacy for censorship comes to a large extent from the left, it isn't that simple. Historically the right is just as guilty, and even now there are plenty of leftists, such as myself, who oppose laws against "hate speech".
1.29.2007 4:09pm
Jeff S.:
Bill Poser-I hate it when leftists like yourself admit they oppose laws against hate speech, and I want to supress your right to such admission, because it only makes it harder for me to set up straw men.
1.29.2007 4:14pm
Adeez (mail):
"Since the issue raised by this “one misguided man” was the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” is it your position then that most liberals will oppose it?
Oh and I would be curious if you could provide us with actual examples of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity in favor of banning political speech that they disagree with."

He may have been making a point about the FD, but the issue at hand and the one to which I referred was his claim that "when you preach -- or when you call for the physical extermination of other people within the society, you know, you've crossed the bounds of free speech," which was interpreted to mean government censorship of such speech. On that topic I will boldly and humbly attempt to speak for all liberals. On the FD I will not be so bold and thus have no position on what all liberals think of it.

As for your second point: are you seriously defending Rush and Sean? I mean, these guys are notorious for pushing intolerant views and branding those who disagree as traitors, treasonous, anti-American, etc. Again, are you seriously defending them and they're positions? I presume you're too smart for that. Shit, there are entire books and websites dedicating to exposing their nonsense.
1.29.2007 4:16pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Although it is true that at present advocacy for censorship comes to a large extent from the left, it isn't that simple. Historically the right is just as guilty, and even now there are plenty of leftists, such as myself, who oppose laws against "hate speech".


I don’t think that’s true that the right is “just as guilty” as the left when it comes to censorship. Most of the examples of government attempts to suppress political speech seem to have come from the political Left. Wilson and Roosevelt were particularly notorious for it during WWI and II. We had Al and Tipper Gore’s attacks on the music industry during my childhood but I honestly cannot recall any similar or comparable attempts at censorship by the political right.
1.29.2007 4:19pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Oh no! Not "entire books and websites!" I'm too smart to get trapped by that last paragraph for one thing. :)
1.29.2007 4:21pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'd prefer to worry about the people who control the mainstream media and who occupy many seats in Congress and the Senate who believe that a person who insults one of their sheltered constituencies, such as the blacks or the gays, should be sent off for counselling . . . so they can be "re educated" and "get their mind right."

We've seen this twice lately. Michael Richards and his outburst against blacks, and just last week with this actor fellow who slurred his gay co-star. Both "eagerly" agreed to go off somewhere for counselling.


Have you got any basis for thinking Michael Richards or Isaiah Washington headed for counselling at the behest of members of Congress rather than out of a desire to avoid the career damage that comes with being regarded as a hateful person? (cf Mel Gibson).
1.29.2007 4:26pm
r78:
Chapman - the links between McVeigh and Christian terrorism are at least as strong as those between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. Aren't you paying attention?
1.29.2007 4:28pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I suppose I ought to say something ringing in defense of Liberty but all I can think of is "Onion."
1.29.2007 4:29pm
r78:
1.29.2007 4:30pm
wooga:
I'm not a legal scholar, but is the "social value" of speech a basis for protecting it or not?
Jeff, one of the only known criteria for defining obscenity is the lack of "social value." Miller v. California 413 US 15 (1973).
1.29.2007 4:39pm
JK:
I don't believe how shallow this thread is. This isn't about a serious policy position, or left-wing attack on freedom of speech, this is about guilt by association. One left wing nut case says something crazy and now it is the official position of everyone to the left of Michelle Malkin. I guess everyone here is under the impression that there isn't a single right wing nut who wants to suppress speech?
1.29.2007 4:43pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I can't believe there hasn't been more on the fact that this happened on NPR... we're not getting our money's worth, it seems.
1.29.2007 4:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
The fact that we always seem to have some folks who want to legally suppress the speech of others is an indication we have a healthy and lively social discourse in place. When the demands of such folks disappear, we might take that as a canary in the mine moment.
1.29.2007 4:46pm
WHOI Jacket:
JK,

One guy states that perhaps that lawyers who defend insurgents might be due some criticism sets off numerous threads.

This guy echos what people like Garrison Kellor have stated before, and we the ones painting with a broad brush?

Reporter for the NYT and NRP.... What liberal media?
1.29.2007 4:52pm
GKH (mail):
Can anybody cite a specific "Christian right" broadcast that seriously advocated execution of people who commit any of the 18 moral crimes that Hedges mentions? I personally think the guy froths at the mouth, but who knows, there may be some small basis in fact for the claim. Even if there is, I doubt that it is at all representative of Christian commentary.
1.29.2007 4:53pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Even if it exists, it's immaterial. He's using it as a basis to censor "...broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans." Clearly he means to silence mainstream Christian broadcasts, and whether he's basing that on some guy ranting on a weblog or on a figment of his imagination is irrelevant.
1.29.2007 4:59pm
Colin (mail):
The fact that we always seem to have some folks who want to legally suppress the speech of others is an indication we have a healthy and lively social discourse in place. When the demands of such folks disappear, we might take that as a canary in the mine moment.

I like that perspective.

This guy echos what people like Garrison Kellor have stated before, and we the ones painting with a broad brush?

What did Garrison Keillor say about this? Did he really advocate suppression of speech?
1.29.2007 5:03pm
Bill_C:
Hedges should be honest. What he is looking for is a way to make it illegal for him to loose an argument by starting the wheel rolling on getting anyone who disagrees with him to shut up. Once he shuts up the Christian Right, and his arguments get trounced by another group, he'll spin the more radical fringe of that block to be representative of all of them and make them be quiet, too.
1.29.2007 5:11pm
Shake-N-Bake (www):
JAA: The fact that it was BAMN or its predecessors tells you all you need to know about who the so-called 'liberals' are that support this kind of crap. BAMN is truly in the Michael Savage range, or even farther out if that's possible, when it comes to being way out from representing anything resembling the opinions of mainstream liberals or conservatives. As a person who probably falls into the 'liberal' category and who attended UM, I can tell you that virtually all of us thought the BAMN people were loudmouthed morons who made everyone on the left look bad because some people thought those jackasses represented the opinion of everyone 'on the left', which is just silly. But hey, the loud idiots are always the ones who make the headlines, not the reasonable people.

Chapman: Isn't it a good thing that this happened on NPR? The broader population would have never heard this guy if he hadn't been on there. Better we know about him and this kind of view than not, no? I mean, how many people are actually buying this guy's book?
1.29.2007 5:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It's a bit disturbing that so many seem to see themselves and other regular Christians when someone criticizes the "radical Christian right". Sloppiness often leads people in a debate to conflate the larger community with the extremists, but there is a fringe group out there and they are dangerous.
I'm aware of the "Christian reconstructionists" who Hedges now calls "Christian dominionists" and want Levitical law back in force for homosexuality. There might be dozens or even hundreds of such people in the United States. I've never met one. I've attended churches for 28 years that are generally quite a bit more fundamentalist than I can completely agree with, and I have NEVER heard anyone, either from the pulpit or in less formal settings suggest that homosexuals should even be in prison, much less executed.

Hedges is a fascist. You don't have to scratch very deep to figure out why. Elton John's recent call for state suppression of religion because Christianity "promotes hatred ... against gays" (while ignoring Islam, that executes gays, instead of politely disapproving of it) shows what is really going on. No surprise on this; homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power.

Hedges is an intolerant person. But I'm not a fascist. I'm prepared to tolerate his intolerance and even his promotion of fascist ideas. Why does this remind of the incident under the Sandinistas where one of the opposition newspapers ran a story about press censorship, and the government shut them down for telling lies, because there was no censorship?
1.29.2007 5:14pm
DaveN (mail):
I find the guilt by association astounding--particularly since this a blog predominately read by attorneys.

I am NOT a fundamentalist Christian. I think Pat Robertson's theology is suspect and his politics even more so.

That said, lumping the Christian Coalition with Christian Identity is sophitically stupid. [Please make substantive arguments, rather than simply insulting the people you disagree with. -EV] I had thought that the most important thing we learned in law school was how to think critically. The commentary by some on this thread makes me realize how much law school failed them.
1.29.2007 5:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

What did Garrison Keillor say about this? Did he really advocate suppression of speech?
No, he advocated taking away the right of born-again Christians to vote after the 2004 election. That's how you can tell he's a liberal.
1.29.2007 5:16pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Just because the "broader population" pays for NPR doesn't mean it listens :)

But I kid, of course... I know nothing about NPR's ratings, and I care less. The old saying "The answer to bad speech is more speech" doesn't require giving this guy a taxpayer-funded soapbox.
1.29.2007 5:17pm
BobNSF (mail):
Jeff S

He's not just criticizing the "radical Christian right", he's proposing to abridge free speech. You don't have to "conflate the larger community with the extremists" to see that.


You know, I might be including him in the group of those who wrongly, and too easily, conflate the two communities.

I'm a very strong supporter of free speech. Without free speech — fought for and never really a given — gay rights would never have emerged as a movement. A lot of people went to jail or had their lives ruined for expressing the rather unpopular idea that gay people should be fully equal members of this society. I oppose "hate speech" rules and laws. I do, however, support "hate crime" laws in those cases where it can be shown that the motivation was hatred of a group of people, especially if the victims were randomly selected. (but that's another topic)
1.29.2007 5:19pm
WHOI Jacket:
Beat me to it Clayton
We're not in Lake Woebegon anymore...

Here's the discussion on the VC from that time.
1.29.2007 5:24pm
r78:
Christian Coalition is to Christian Identity as Sunni is to Shiite.
1.29.2007 5:30pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
This link might work better.
1.29.2007 5:32pm
DaveN (mail):
[Substanceless personal insults addressed to another commenter deleted. -EV]
1.29.2007 5:33pm
JK:
WHOI Jacket,
Stimson, the "[o]ne guy" from your post, is the deputy assistant secretary of defense of detainee affairs, Garrison Kellor is a comedian. I don't think that's a reasonable comparison. Anyway, I don't delude myself into thinking that most conservatives believe that attorneys representing GITMO detainees are terrorist sympathizers. I realize that is a fringe position; will you admit that the subject of this thread is a fringe position that is held by less the 1% of serious people one the left? Note: not that I would consider myself "one the left," I just tend to gag at irrationality in people I agree with more then in people I don't.
1.29.2007 5:33pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I noted Hedges position a few weeks ago here. Both the New York Times and Baltimore Sun rightly gave his book poor reviews. And he used to report for the Times.

Censorship clearly isn't the answer. Hedges is right that these folks peddle misinformation to their followers by millions. He must have become so frustrated while researching them that he lost his mind.

One reason why I so intently debunk their "Christian Nation" thesis, even though very few scholars in the academy think it worth the time to even address, is because millions of people believe the twaddle coming from the likes of D. James Kennedy, David Barton, and William Federer.
1.29.2007 5:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Hedges is a fascist. You don't have to scratch very deep to figure out why. Elton John's recent call for state suppression of religion because Christianity "promotes hatred ... against gays" (while ignoring Islam, that executes gays, instead of politely disapproving of it) shows what is really going on. No surprise on this; homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power.


Not that I think we necessarily should dig into his personal life, but this passage suggests Hedges is gay. Is that true?
1.29.2007 5:36pm
BobNSF (mail):

and I have NEVER heard anyone, either from the pulpit or in less formal settings suggest that homosexuals should even be in prison, much less executed.


Uh... I guess that believing that homosexuality should be punishable by law doesn't necessarily mean that gay people should be in prison, but that's quite an odd interpretation, isn't it, Clayton?
1.29.2007 5:36pm
Colin (mail):
Well, that's just terrible. Let's all run and hide from the terrible stand-up comedy routine. Surely it presages the loss of all our rights. (It bears mentioning that there are extremists who believe that "citizenship in Heaven" is exclusive of "citizenship in the United States." See, i.e., the recently-convicted Mr. Kent Hovind.)

You're really reaching to tar your opponents with whatever brush is at hand. See, e.g., Cramer's classic "homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power."
1.29.2007 5:36pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DaveN: Please make your substantive points without pointless insults of other commenters. If you think an argument someone is making is unsound, it's much more effective to explain why it's unsound, rather than call the other person stupid.
1.29.2007 5:47pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
As examples of censorship supported by the right, I would cite the Sedition Act of 1918 and the Palmer Raids of 1918-1921,
the whole apparatus of the McCarthy era, in which membership in a leftist organization or expression of leftist views led to persecution, the attempt to ban the publication of the Pentagon papers, the censorship of "obscene works" (which has relatively recently acquired support from a part of the left), and the repeated attempts to ban the burning of the flag.
1.29.2007 5:53pm
DaveN (mail):
Eugene you are right right--and I apologize. My point was that to lump the Christian Coalition and Christian Identity together because they both use the term "Christian" is like saying the Nazis are Socialist because the word "Socialist" appears in their name.

That makes them substantially different than say, a comparison between Shia and Sunni within Islam.
1.29.2007 6:09pm
Richard Blaine (mail):
"Christian Broadcasting" is to legitimate Christianity as "WWF" is to Greco-Roman (Olympic) wrestling.
1.29.2007 6:14pm
r78:
DaveN - you may think that the Christian Identity folks aren't Christian but if you spend a little time roaming around their websites, I think you will see that many of them are convinced they are the ONLY true Christians out there.

I'm not Christian, so I don't have a particular dog in this fight, but there is nothing more inherently nutty about Christian Identity ideas than there is with Pat Robertson's ideas. I mean, unless you think it is perfectly reasonable and sane to believe that God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina.
1.29.2007 6:21pm
DaveN (mail):
If I called myself a "liberal"--let's say I called myself "Liberals for Hitler" and set up a website filled with vitriol and hate that would not make me a liberal.
1.29.2007 6:36pm
r78:
DaveN - it's not quite that simple. There are a number of pundits who have stated - in all seriousness - that Hitler (along with Stalin) was a "liberal."

I am not making this up.

From what little I understand about the Sunni/Shia split, they both claim to be Muslims but there is disagreement about (among other things) who was the rightful spiritual heir of Mohammad. This split is so strong that a great many of these folks are now actively slaughtering each other in Iraq. (And some in Lebanon, too.)

Christian Coalition folks may dislike Christian Identity folks (or maybe that should be Volks) but that doesn't change the fact that both groups claim to be following the true Christian faith. You could even make the argument that they are more ideologically unified than Sunni/Shias are because the Coalition/Identity people are not actively slaughtering one another (not yet anyway.)
1.29.2007 6:53pm
Chris Bell (mail):

This is the awful paradox of tolerance. There arise moments when those who would destroy the tolerance that makes an open society possible should no longer be tolerated. They must be held accountable by institutions that maintain the free exchange of ideas and liberty.

~~~~~
The value of the flag as a symbol cannot be measured. Even so, I have no doubt that the interest in preserving that value for the future is both significant and legitimate.... Similarly, in my considered judgment, sanctioning the public desecration of the flag will tarnish its value--both for those who cherish the ideas for which it waves and for those who desire to don the robes of martyrdom by burning it. That tarnish is not justified by the trivial burden on free expression occasioned by requiring that an available, alternative mode of expression--including uttering words critical of the flag

I suggest a bipartisan compromise. The Right agrees to ban the worst forms of theo-rage if the Left agrees to ban flag burning. Everyone can agree to that, right?...right?

Serious Question: What are the limits of implied threats? (And remember that the entire point of a threat is to shut down someone else's activity.) Examples such as:

-Listing the home addresses and information of abortion doctors on a stridently pro-life website (and nothing else, more info can get you in trouble)

-A public speech in which you say to your followers that Person X "deserves to die" withoutn actually calling for their murder

-A letter to the Dixie Chicks saying that "I hate you and my gun is loaded."

It seems to me that people like this are deliberately playing upon the lawyer's need to draw clear lines. The activity is unacceptable, but unpunishable.
1.29.2007 6:55pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
BobNSF -- In reference to your earlier comment:

It's a bit disturbing that so many seem to see themselves and other regular Christians when someone criticizes the "radical Christian right". Sloppiness often leads people in a debate to conflate the larger community with the extremists, but there is a fringe group out there and they are dangerous.


It is Hedges, not "regular Christians", who is lumping a few extremists in together with the masses of Christians in this country. He specifically refers to restricting the speech in mass-market broadcasts:

"The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans."


He is saying flat out that tens of millions of Americans regularly watch shows that: "demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication." This is indeed demonizing tens of millions of Christians because of the small number who actually call for a theocracy and other such horrible things as he and commenters in this thread have described.

The left, as well as the right, needs to be more specific in their arguments. If Hedges wants to limit the free speech of Rushdoony, he should say so, not assume that most Christians, even most very devout Christians, agree with or support theocracy nonsense. There are plenty of regular church-goers, even in deeply fundamentalist churches, who consider themselves part of the Christian right.
1.29.2007 6:57pm
DaveN (mail):
PatMVH--Hear! Hear!

You make the point better than I have. The "few extremists" in the so-called Christian Identity Movement do not make up more than a miniscule percentage of the population--yet those defending Hedges want to tar all Christians with an overly broad brush. As I said originally, I am not a fundamentalist; I do not support Pat Robertson. However I do take umbrage when the crackpots are lumped with mainstream Christianity--including the fundamentalists within maintream Christianity.
1.29.2007 7:07pm
Cornellian (mail):
There are a number of pundits who have stated - in all seriousness - that Hitler (along with Stalin) was a "liberal."

See e.g., Jonah Goldberg's latest book: "Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton." Apparently, that kind of hysterical hyperbole is what passes for conservative these days.
1.29.2007 7:20pm
Spectral Disorder:

The left, as well as the right, needs to be more specific in their arguments.

A good start would be to acknowledge that one person espousing a specific view hardly constitutes the "left" or the "right."
1.29.2007 7:22pm
wooga:
Cornellian,
When you get past the "Fascism = Corporation" mistranslated quote of Mussolini, and realize that Mussolini was not referring to things like Haliburton but actually to things like the teachers' union... you'll realize that Goldberg actually has a legitimate point (even if he stretches it to the bounds), and that Mussolini was totally insane.

But I suppose you would think I'm crazy for saying that Stalin was not a right winger.
1.29.2007 7:40pm
r78:
Chris Bell - time is ticking, indeed. Here's newly minted presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaking in 1998:
<blockquote>
I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives. . . . I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.
</blockquote>
1.29.2007 7:48pm
DaveN (mail):
And at what point did Governor Huckabee turn Arkansas into a theocracy? I must have missed the news that day.
1.29.2007 7:57pm
Shelby (mail):
Chris Bell,

Like many polls, that one seems to tell us more about the pollster than anyone else.
1.29.2007 8:13pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.


Which popular politician said that?
1.29.2007 8:19pm
DaveN (mail):
PatHMV--I found the answer quite easily. I won't give it here--but I will provide a hint: This person is thinking very seriously about running for President in 2008--AS A DEMOCRAT--and NO, it is not Lyndon LaRouche.
1.29.2007 8:26pm
wooga:
Rhymes with yo-mama
1.29.2007 8:28pm
Toby:
To those stating this guy is an outlier...

YOu don't have to get very far in expressing any doubts about the exten of anthropogenic global warming to get someone arguing that your voice, and the voice of those like you, should be shut down...

Reference: several threads in the last month in Volokh
1.29.2007 8:37pm
Toby:
Or to the Duke Provost cited yesterday...
1.29.2007 8:38pm
BladeDoc (mail):
Cornellian, hate to tell you, Hayek in The Road to Serfdom made clear the link between socialism and fascism in 1944 (or if you don't believe him TRIED). Goldberg's is not a new theme, nor is it completely hyperbolic. In short the thesis is that free humans persist in doing the "wrong" things from the point of view of the socialist. The answer to that is to centralize power and control people's decisions in the name of equality. His arguement (made simply and incompletely) is that "democratic socialism" is utopian b/c people won't play along and eventually results in fascism.
1.29.2007 8:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:


Not that I think we necessarily should dig into his personal life, but this passage suggests Hedges is gay. Is that true?
While I see how you might infer that from what I wrote, that's not what I was implying. What I was implying was that Hedges's concern about anti-homosexual talk is driving this. There are liberals who support totalitarianism because they are homosexual, and some who support totalitarianism because they know that's the only way to suppress disapproval of a preferred interest group of liberals.
1.29.2007 8:58pm
JK:
Toby, I've followed many of those threads, and I haven't seen anyone say that doubting global warming should be banned by the government. Many people feel that that is a completely scientifically unfounded position, that intelligent people don't hold, but not that it should be prohibited by the government. Please don't make me explain (as it's been explained on this blog hundreds of times) the difference between individual condemnation of speech, and government prohibition of it.
1.29.2007 9:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):



and I have NEVER heard anyone, either from the pulpit or in less formal settings suggest that homosexuals should even be in prison, much less executed.


Uh... I guess that believing that homosexuality should be punishable by law doesn't necessarily mean that gay people should be in prison, but that's quite an odd interpretation, isn't it, Clayton?
1. If someone supported laws that made homosexual sex an infraction (punishable by a fine only), that woud not mean putting gay people in prison.

2. There are laws that can clearly state a preference without criminalizing homosexuality. For example, a law that prohibited homosexuals from adopting, or that define marriage as "one man, one woman."

3. I have heard quite a bit of support for refusing to recognizing homosexual marriage. Clearly, laws that criminalize homosexual conduct (along with laws that criminalize adultery, premarital sex, and many other forms of sexual conduct) are Constitutional. That doesn't mean that they all make sense. I agree with Clarence Thomas's description of the law challenged in Lawrence v. Texas as "uncommonly silly." I would not have voted for it. I supported California's decriminalization of oral and anal sex in 1975.
1.29.2007 9:04pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You're really reaching to tar your opponents with whatever brush is at hand. See, e.g., Cramer's classic "homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power."
1. It's true.

2. The same cynical willingness to suppress opposing points of view.
1.29.2007 9:06pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
JK writes:


Toby, I've followed many of those threads, and I haven't seen anyone say that doubting global warming should be banned by the government.
Actually, it was quite a bit worse than that. A relatively well-known environmentalist argued that there should be Nuremberg-style trials for "global warming denials."

Now, more sensible environmentalists told him to shut up and sit down. (But who knows what they might do?)

And Senators Rockefeller and Snowe publicly suggested that corporations that have funded research by reputable scientists on this topic should have their tax status changed as punishment.

Yes, liberals do believe in suppressing free speech.
1.29.2007 9:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Cornellian, hate to tell you, Hayek in The Road to Serfdom made clear the link between socialism and fascism in 1944 (or if you don't believe him TRIED). Goldberg's is not a new theme, nor is it completely hyperbolic. In short the thesis is that free humans persist in doing the "wrong" things from the point of view of the socialist. The answer to that is to centralize power and control people's decisions in the name of equality. His arguement (made simply and incompletely) is that "democratic socialism" is utopian b/c people won't play along and eventually results in fascism.
Fascism and socialism have lots in common: totalitarianism; complete intolerance of differing opinions; an insistence that one not only behaves the way the state wants, but thinks the way the state wants; utter contempt for free markets.

The primary areas of difference are that fascism allows private ownership of property to continue, although usually not allowing owners to have that much control over that property, and fascism tends to have a more cynical, more realistic view of human nature. Socialism destroys people because it doesn't want to face that human nature is corrupt, and in the interests of high ideals, ends up giving power to evil men. Fascism destroys people because it cynically accepts that human nature is bad, while pretending that it is aspiring to higher ideals.
1.29.2007 9:20pm
Robbie (mail):
Do the people that get so exercised about the Christian right ever listen to say, Dr. Dobson? I can understand censoring Dobson's show on the grounds that its waaay too "oh isn't God just beautiful?! isn't that just so special!! ah, oh, gee, gosh : ) : ) I just can't contain all the bubbly emotions I feel"

I do think an excess of bubbly emotions poses a threat to civilization, but I don't see how it is scary.
1.29.2007 9:20pm
EKM (mail):
So, does that mean the people on the left who have called for the murder/death of President Bush should be silenced, too?

Tim Robbins kept talking about a "chill wind" blowing, but it's been a real gale force since the November elections. And it's blowing from the left.
1.29.2007 9:24pm
Colin (mail):
Clayton,

Not to detract from what should have been the nadir of your frankly spiteful rhetoric ("homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power"), but did you really just say that "[t]here are liberals who support totalitarianism because they are homosexual"? I'm beginning to think that you just jumble all the words you don't like--liberal, gay, Nazis, totalitariansim--in a hat, and pull them out in random combinations to express whatever it is you're trying to express.

I sincerely hope that I misread you.
1.29.2007 9:30pm
Colin (mail):
Actually, it was quite a bit worse than that. A relatively well-known environmentalist argued that there should be Nuremberg-style trials for "global warming denials."

Now, more sensible environmentalists told him to shut up and sit down. (But who knows what they might do?)


We know that they might exactly what they did do: tell the radical nut to sit down and shut up. You said so yourself. I've already expressed that you seem to be pounding the partisan drum rather than really analyzing these issues, but this is ridiculous. One guy says something objectionable, other liberals actually do object, and that's evidence to you of "what liberals think"? If that is the standard, then the ultra-extreme views of the Xian Dominionists really can be imputed to conservatives, even if the vast majority of conservatives openly repudiate those views.
1.29.2007 9:35pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
What I find frightening is that there appear to be a number of people on this thread that make arguments in support of Hedges goal of suppressing the speech rights of Christians. This is done by conflating the handful of people in the Christian Identity movement with evangelical Christianity. There is more similarity between Hedges and the editors of Der Sturmer.

I wonder if they are aware that Al-Jazeera has established a TV network and hired David Frost. Has anyone in the Liberal community denounced this anti-Semitic hate network as vehemently as Hedges denounces Christians? Hedges assumes that we would not turn a cable network over to the KKK, yet we have done the equivalent by turning a network over to people who believe that Hitler didn’t finish the job.
1.29.2007 9:46pm
Ken Arromdee:
One guy says something objectionable, other liberals actually do object, and that's evidence to you of "what liberals think"?

It depends. If they objected out of strong moral disapproval for the idea, then it doesn't show that that's what liberals think. If they objected to it because they agreed with the general idea but thought it was a little too quirky, or if they objected to it merely for public relations, or if they decided that the guy was such a good friend that his support of such a nutty idea doesn't matter, then it shows a lot about "what liberals think".

What happened to the guy after he said that? Was he made a pariah by leftists, or was this treated as just a minor misunderstanding?
1.29.2007 9:51pm
CJH (mail):
Mr. Hedges picked a poor bogeyman, Rushdoony died six years ago. How long do you think it will take him to notice?
1.29.2007 9:51pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

@ r78

1.

Chapman - okay if you want proof: http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/cal_shoot.htm


You call that PROOF?

There's speculation, but nothing else. What possible definition of "proof" are you using? The abridged version?

The fact is that McVeigh was at best a renounced Christian and was NOT a practicing Christian at the time of the bombing. This nonsense is the favorite repetition of the far-left twits who try and use it to smear Christians.

It's false, you have no proof and thus you're a liar.

2. Hitler wasn't a "liberal" he was a *socialist*, i.e. leftist. The mistaken conflation of liberal and leftist is a fairly recent thing where those claiming the mantle of liberalism have instead adopted leftist ideology and largely abandoned classical liberalism.
1.29.2007 9:52pm
Colin (mail):
It depends. If they objected out of strong moral disapproval for the idea, then it doesn't show that that's what liberals think. If they objected to it because they agreed with the general idea but . . . objected to it merely for public relations [etc.], then it shows a lot about "what liberals think".

Well, I don't think it shows "a lot" about anything in particular. It's tricky to extrapolate so much from one instance, especially when you're using so much conjecture to interpret what was happening in people's heads.

To turn it again, we don't know why most Xians disclaim the beliefs of, say, Howard Ahramson. We only know, as a matter of fact, that they do. He's hardly a pariah--many right-leaning organizations, think tanks, etc. take his money. But despite his broad acceptance (or the broad acceptance of his cash, which I accept is a slightly different thing) and our inability to know for a fact why most conservatives repudiate his hard-core dominionism, it's not fair to impute his views to conservatives in general. It's just too much reinterpretation, too much conjecture, and too close to conspiracy theorizing.
1.29.2007 10:00pm
Colin (mail):
<i>Rushdoony died six years ago. How long do you think it will take him to notice?</i>

If he ain't noticed by now, he ain't gonna.


/joke
1.29.2007 10:03pm
tioedong (mail) (www):
The "christian right" wants homosexuals to repent, and does not advocate them to be killed. In the "good old days" this would be called Libel.
Second, Timothy McVeigh was an agnostic and fallen away Catholic, not a member of the religious right. To equate a couple dozen neonazi hate groups with 40 million born again Christians is another libel.
As for me, I'm a liberal Catholic. We go in for nuances, not strict interpretation. And, as the NYTimes found out when they misquoted Chaput, some of our bishops when misquoted place the entire interview on their website to point out when their words are twisted...
1.29.2007 10:09pm
William Dalasio (mail):
Adeez


these guys are notorious for pushing intolerant views and branding those who disagree as traitors, treasonous, anti-American, etc.


No offense, but I think it's a mistake to conflate ad hominem attacks with suppression of free speech.
1.29.2007 10:11pm
William Dalasio (mail):
r78:


the links between McVeigh and Christian terrorism are at least as strong as those between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.

Who made the claim that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks? I hear people saying someone or another did this, but I've never been told exactly who.
1.29.2007 10:14pm
Redman:

Have you got any basis for thinking Michael Richards or Isaiah Washington headed for counselling at the behest of members of Congress rather than out of a desire to avoid the career damage that comes with being regarded as a hateful person? (cf Mel Gibson).


I didnt say they did.

But you tell me . . . what could have caused Gibson, Richards, et al, to think that "re education" was necessary to save their careers?
1.29.2007 10:18pm
tsotha:
R78,

I can't tell if you're trolling or if you've never actually met a Christian. The link you provided to show a connection between McVeigh and the "Christian Identity Movement" does nothing of the sort. In fact, there's no inference anywhere in the text about what McVeigh's religious beliefs were other than the words some nut put in his mouth after he was dead. Did you not think anyone would read the link?

Equating the Christian Coalition, which is a grassroots lobbying group, with violent extremism is ridiculous. Shall we also equate PFAW with the Weathermen?

Adeez,

As for your second point: are you seriously defending Rush and Sean? I mean, these guys are notorious for pushing intolerant views and branding those who disagree as traitors, treasonous, anti-American, etc. Again, are you seriously defending them and they're positions? I presume you're too smart for that. Shit, there are entire books and websites dedicating to exposing their nonsense.


Calling someone a traitor or saying he's anti-American isn't the same thing as saying the government should step in and muzzle them. You'd think you'd be able to find one quote by Limbaugh that advocated the restriction of free speech. I mean, after all, he's been on the air for decades now. Or maybe those "entire books" are mostly about the projection of leftist paranoia? Does calling someone a "big fat idiot" count as exposing nonsense on the left?

Most of the criticism of Limbaugh that I've seen is either aimed at his personal life or based on a quote taken out of context.
1.29.2007 10:22pm
Brown Line (mail):
This is an old, old story. As a student at the University of Toronto in the 1970s, I remember vividly an incident when Alan Bloom, who taught at Toronto in those days, invited Edward C. Banfield to speak on campus. Banfield had published a book that the campus left condemned as racist; the left tried both to have the book removed from campus bookstores and stop Banfield from speaking. Their slogan was "No Free Speech for Racists!" Of course, they reserved to themselves the right to determine just who was racist and who wasn't.

Hedges' views are more of the same bovine effluvia, just tarted up a bit. It was wrong then and it's wrong now.
1.29.2007 10:23pm
Jay Manifold (mail) (www):
The idea that McVeigh was some kind of "Christian terrorist" is particularly amusing in light of the known fact that Terry Nichols traveled to the Phillipines to meet with representatives of Abu Sayyaf, and the serious allegations that Iraqi money may have helped fund the OKC bombing. But, hey, if the real world isn't cooperating with your worldview, just make some stuff up.
1.29.2007 10:32pm
hugh:
How many people here have actually worked with the "Christian Right?" I am a non-religious Jew and I used to work for the Christian Coalition of America. During my time there, I was amazed at what people were saying about the organization.

A staffer for one Jewish member of Congress insisted that the CCA was spending millions of dollars per year to make Jews convert to Christianity. That sure was news to me...I think the total budget for converting Jews was the $50 per month that CCA President Roberta Combs spent taking me to dinner when we would discuss religion.

Pat Robertson does not speak for everyone in the Christian Right. He knows that. The people who contribute to the CCA know this. Jay Sekulow knows this. Roberta Combs knows this.

As for liberals wanting to ban speech...I can remember my senior year of law school at the Ohio State University. The law school newspaper endorsed Ronald Reagan for reelection. A number of student groups were angered and wanted the members of the editorial board to be punished.
1.29.2007 10:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Rushdoony may be a boogeyman, but not all "Dominists" are members of the so called "Constitution Party," (the party which Reconstructionist Howard Phillips keeps on running for President).

"Dominists" are also active in Republican circles. I don't think they represent mainstream Christian Republicans or even the mainstream "religious right." Rather, they are the right-wing of the religious right. But they do influence millions of folks.

The two biggest players are probably D. James Kennedy's The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ and David Barton's Wallbuilders. They are intimately involved with GOP politics.

They try to inculcate zeal in their followers by telling them America was founded by evangelical Christians for evangelical Christians to rule, and that heritage has been "stolen" from them by the secularists, which they rightly should "reclaim." The problem is their historiography is abominable.
1.29.2007 10:35pm
Mister Snitch! (mail) (www):
"We're not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan."

Why not? Why should the KKK not have a cable channel? And if not, why stop there? Why not insist that every kind of speech you find 'hateful' be banned? Indeed, ban Michael Richards and Mel Gibson for things they might say about 1% of the time. (No point taking chances.) Stifle Joe Lieberman if he doesn't toe the line. Ban groups pre-emptively, using the slogan 'Why Wait for Hate?'

If you want to censor, first thing you do is call it something else. All this leads to nothing good. What self-righteous fools these people are to advocate such conduct.
1.29.2007 10:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
You guys all need to get out more. First step -- listen to AM radio when you are traveling across the country. I do, on a occasion. The talk radio people and programs out there are pretty scary. No, they don't usually call for the death of homosexuals (though sometimes the call-in public might from time to time), but they certainly do rant on and on about gays being in legion with the devil, out to destroy America and the family, are sexual predators on the your kids, eat shit (literally) and engage in the most vile acts that can possibly be imagined. Oh, and of course AIDS is God's Just Punishment for the sinful homosexual 'lifestyle.'

I could go on and on, but you dont' have to go far on the internet to find these views. And they are not limited to gays -- they include liberals of all kinds.

Now, I'm not saying that their free speech should be limited, but Hedges is right that they say some pretty inflammatory things. And worse, there are people who really believe them.
1.29.2007 10:53pm
William Dalasio (mail):
It's easy enough to say that Hedges doesn't speak for the Left, that he's a loose canon whose views are strictly his own. But, in light of that argument, we are forced to confront a number of problematic realities. The left is currently actively clamoring for a reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine. As a practical matter, the utter failure of Err Air America makes it clear that this is not an attempt to build up liberal speech (problematic enough in its own right), but to make conservative talk radio unworkable. During the last presidential contest, we heard Howard Dean openly suggesting that the federal government attempt to break up Fox News parent News Corp., a call that has continued to circulate amongst liberal pundits. While I'd like to believe Hedges' comments represent some idiosyncratic oddity on his own part. Unfortunately, they're all too recurring for me to have much confidence in that interpretation.
1.29.2007 10:54pm
BobNSF (mail):
PatHMV:

It is Hedges, not "regular Christians", who is lumping a few extremists in together with the masses of Christians in this country.


Yes, as I pointed out earlier, he's conflating two groups to some extent, as well. but....


He specifically refers to restricting the speech in mass-market broadcasts:

He is saying flat out that tens of millions of Americans regularly watch shows that: "demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication." This is indeed demonizing tens of millions of Christians because of the small number who actually call for a theocracy and other such horrible things as he and commenters in this thread have described.


Now, you're distorting what he said. Millions of Americans DO watch shows that demonize gay people. And every now and then, people on those shows go over the line and say something really objectionable. They don't do it often, but they do it. The Canadian government has, on occassion, banned the broadcast of episodes of the 700 Club. I don't remember if it was for Pat's anti-gay rhetoric or his anti-Islam blather. I've watched the Coral Ministries show (whatever it's called) and have heard anti-gay demonization. I've watched the 700 Club and heard outrageous lies about gay people. I've watched Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blame gay people for 9/11 (among others). Oddly enough, hateful speech from them seems to increase viewership rather than get them fired.

Does my complaining about that demonize the listeners? How so?

And more importantly, why don't all the reasonable people in the Christian right start ignoring these folks instead of sending them money and listening to their voting suggestions? Why do men like these have the President's ear?
1.29.2007 11:05pm
BobNSF (mail):

1. If someone supported laws that made homosexual sex an infraction (punishable by a fine only), that woud not mean putting gay people in prison.


My question, Clayton, had more to do with your assertion that you have NEVER heard anyone call for gay people to be put in jail. Are you seriously suggesting that those who favor the re-criminalization of sodomy (Santorum, for example) are just encouraging fines? Care to retract the "never"?


I agree with Clarence Thomas's description of the law challenged in Lawrence v. Texas as "uncommonly silly." I would not have voted for it.


You would not have. Good for you. The Texas Legislature, however, did. And Bush, as governor, supported the Texas law. And nice as it was for Thomas to find the law "silly", he found it constitutional.


I supported California's decriminalization of oral and anal sex in 1975.


Good for you.
1.29.2007 11:11pm
BobNSF (mail):
DaveN

However I do take umbrage when the crackpots are lumped with mainstream Christianity--including the fundamentalists within maintream Christianity.


Take up your complaint with those political leaders who host and court the favor of "the crackpots". Start with the White House. The GOP has based its strategy on allying itself with at least some of "the crackpots". Read the guest list for Justice Sunday.
1.29.2007 11:14pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
Millions of Americans DO watch shows that demonize gay people.

Yeah, I miss All in the Family.

Who the hell is Rushdoony [rhetorical question - I looked him up]? I must be living under a rock because this is the first I've ever heard of him. Sorta reminds of me the great "right" scourge of a decade ago - the militia movement.
1.29.2007 11:22pm
JohnAnnArbor:

I've watched Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blame gay people for 9/11

For which they were criticized by people of all political stripes. Not that it matters to you. Again, free speeh allows us to spot the idiots--in this case, Pat and Jerry.
1.29.2007 11:38pm
BobNSF (mail):
The militia groups are still around. I seem to recall one was busted a while back. I'm glad the FBI doesn't think they're old news.

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35919
1.29.2007 11:53pm
Brian Jackson:
I am no longer Evangelical, having converted to Orthodox Christianity some years ago, but even when I was Evangelical, I recall Rushdoony and the Reconstructionists as being a fringe movement which barely made the radar amongst Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. However, the opposition to "hate speech" legislation is engaged in by many sincerely religious persons because many have observed the misuse of such legislation in Eyrope and Canada to squelch the speech of those who differ with secular presumption.
1.29.2007 11:55pm
fulldroolcup (mail):
I wonder if underlying Hedges' desire to censor the "Christian Right" is a seething anger and frustration that liberal media organs are almost ALL losing readers, viewers and listeners. What better way to shut the right down than to argue that conservative voices engage in "hate speech"? What better way to force Americans to listen to the liberal views than by invoking the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine"?
Just today another "angel" has come along to resuscitate the moribund Air America. I don't suppose the lefties posting here remember how much spleen, invective and hatefulness the AA folks directed toward GWB and "the right wing", do they? You know, the BushHitlerSmirkingChimp crap? Yet how many conservatives took to the national airwaves, as Hedges has to urge censorship against the Christian right, to argue that AA should be shut down? And why do such sensitive souls as Hedges and Keillor avert their gaze, and stifle their public comment, while Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and the other Internet foamers routinely call for Bush and Cheney to be killed and our country to be defeated? Did they object when Alec Baldwin, on national TV, called for Henry Hyde and his family to be stoned to death? Or how about the Left's attempt to conflate the right with Islamofasicm by referring to the "Taliban wing of the Republican Party"? Did Hedges object to that as "hate speech"?
Cue up the sound of crickets chirping, please!!!

Myself, I am struck at how much more often the left is driven to impute evil, not intellectual or moral error, to the right than vice versa. Take the Diebold voting machine flap: the lefties said Bush and the GOP would fraudulently use the machines to tip the 2006 elections their way. When it didn't happen, the left was curiously silent. Nor did they (or their media lap kitties), acknowledge that the GOP didn't send brigades of lawyers into states where their candidates lost to challenge the results, claim fraud, etc., while the left did the opposite in 2002 and 2004. If the right, especially the Christian Right, are so dangerous, why do they play...by...the rules???? Funny how the left projects its own actions onto the right, fantasizing that the right will engage in nefarious practices that the left uses all the time.

Cook County 1960: anyone remember???? The Left certainly forgot, when they huffed and puffed, and nearly threw the country into a constitutional crisis, in 2000.

QED
1.30.2007 12:12am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
r78,

I've met with some Christians. Does that mean...
1.30.2007 12:14am
BobNSF (mail):

For which they were criticized by people of all political stripes. Not that it matters to you. Again, free speeh allows us to spot the idiots--in this case, Pat and Jerry.


They were roundly criticized from the left. A few on the right chimed in, some only after being asked to give an opinion.

What matters to me is that Pat and Jerry still conference call with Dubya whenever they want. There was a time when leaders were "disgraced" and left the public eye. Not so much anymore.
1.30.2007 12:41am
Yep (mail):
M. Simon:

Yes, it means...
1.30.2007 12:45am
Meryl Yourish (www):

"We're not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan."


We already do. Here in Richmond, the first year I moved here, I was treated to racist and anti-Semitic shows by some of the local neo-Nazi movements on our local cable channel. It ran at any time of the day or night, and finally stopped because--well, I'm not really sure. Perhaps nobody was watching it, and the bigots decided it was a waste of money.

This is America. Speech is still free, as far as I can tell.
1.30.2007 12:56am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Funny how I never see other points of view in The Nation. Typical Socialist hypocrites: Free speech for me but not for thee.
1.30.2007 12:59am
U.Va. 1L:
This reminds me of a discussion I read a while back on another blog: "Freedom of hate speech?" (http://www.worldmagblog.com/blog/archives/016524.html). I remember it because a couple commenters went back and forth and one of them made a good case against "hate speech." Search for the posts by Andrew and Spottswoode. See in particular posts 21 and 24-25.

Some highlights:

[In reply to the idea of prohibiting "extreme" speech or "hate speech".]

But this introduces a fundamental problem of limiting "extreme" speech. Who decides what counts as extreme? You? Me? The Prime Minister? Congress? 50%+1 of the people in a country?

If society can squash anything it deems extreme, then what of the rights of minorities of any kind? There was a time when advocating giving women the right to vote was considered extreme--the views of "radicals", reformers on the fringe of society. What if America threw civil rights leaders in jail or kicked them out of the country because their views were going against the "mainstream" and speaking out against the social institutions?

[To me the following seems to be the crux of the issue:]
The whole concept of free speech is to protect the rights of people to say unpopular things. There's no need to protect people's rights to say things that almost everyone agrees with. Who would object? Who would stop them? How many governments in history have thrown people in jail for saying things that supported the government? How many governments have thrown people in jail for saying things against the government?

All of that said, an important distinction should be made between speech that is "offensive" or "hateful" and speech that actually (and explicitly) promotes violence. There's a difference between saying, "flying in airplanes is bad and nobody should use them" and telling people, "go blow up airplanes". Muslims should be free to call non-Muslims infidels (and to tell them what the Koran says). But, governments have a legitimate right to prohibit clerics from encouraging their followers to murder infidels. There is a difference.

And:

We live in an age when people are too easily offended. There is some degree of truth in the old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Sure, if you call me an idiot it might offend me or hurt my feelings (the degree of which depending on who says it, of course). But calling me a name doesn't injure me. I am not harmed if you say I'm an idiot. However, I am harmed if you tell your friend that all idiots should be beaten with baseball bats and one day when I'm going to the grocery store your friend jumps out and pounds me. Moreover, I would also agree that there is harm caused by the credible threat of violence. If you are a leader with many followers and you tell your followers that idiots should be beaten with baseball bats and you and your followers live in my neighborhood, I would have genuine cause to be afraid to go outside. In that situation I would be harmed also.


Just remember, it is a two-edged sword. One day the pendulum of political power might swing the other way and your views might be censored as "hate speech" or as some other variant of unprotected speech. The freedom of speech is designed to protect the rights of people to say things we don't want to hear.
1.30.2007 1:25am
Purple Avenger (mail) (www):
I want the construction contract for the "reeducation camps". It sounds like he plans on really racking and stacking'em ;->
1.30.2007 1:25am
Stefan K (mail):
Reading this whole debate has made the obvious even more obvious: Free Speech is required for a Free Republic. Both sides have fired back and forth about, essentially, speech they don't like. I lean very strongly to the right, but I realize that the government should not EVER have the power to determine what speech is ok. Both democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives, see speech that they don't like. All of us do. It's human nature. So the only reasonable solution, and the one our Founding Fathers saw, is to permit all speech. A good idea will win in the free market of ideas. Hateful speech will find disgust in the minds of people. The people CAN be trusted to try to discern between the two. Dictating what ideas are ok only leads to thought control and dictatorship, benevolent as it may be.
1.30.2007 1:43am
Dave N (mail):
BobNSF--

I read the actual website for Justice Sunday. Not my cup of tea from a theological standpoint actually. That said, I read the actual website as opposed to its demonization by the left. But please identify which of the speakers you find so objectionable that we should not discuss their views in polite company.

Despite including them in the same sentence, Justice Sunday was not at the White House, though it was designed in part to support President Bush's judicial nominations. If you want to complain about White House meetings, please name names and don't engage in ad hominem attacks. I am particularly interested in which leaders of the Christian Identity Movement have been visiting the White House and when they did so.

When you do this, please name direct sources and not the delusions of either Frank Rich or The Nation.
1.30.2007 1:43am
BobNSF (mail):
Dave N

You're the one who mentioned "crackpots" you would not want to be associated with. Forgive me for assuming that Pat and Jerry and the like were among them. Your words from a previous post:


As I said originally, I am not a fundamentalist; I do not support Pat Robertson. However I do take umbrage when the crackpots are lumped with mainstream Christianity—including the fundamentalists within maintream Christianity.
1.30.2007 2:03am
Dave N (mail):
BobNSF

Yes--but if you read the entire context of all of my posts, I have been differentiating between the Christian Coalition and Christian Identity throughout this discussion. While I support neither, my thesis has been that these two organizations are very different--and that I consider the Christian Identity people to be the "crackpots." Unless you wish to provide evidence that either Falwell or Robertson is part of the Christian Identity Movement, then quoting me out of context does a disservice to your argument.
1.30.2007 3:02am
BobNSF (mail):
As my people say, "oh, please."

If you think I was quoting you out of context, feel free to quote yourself in context. I still think the sentence was confusing.

I'm sorry you don't consider Pat Robertson to be a "crackpot". You might want to re-examine the issue.
1.30.2007 4:12am
Becky (mail):
The liberals have become the modern day Puritans. Old Grannies with funny hats, marching against sin, asking us to throw a nickel on the drum. Once again they want to burn books - but this time around, it is only the Bible they want burned.
1.30.2007 4:24am
Richard A. Vail (mail):
Remember what the german catholic priest said (I paraphrase)

"I was silent when they came for....but who will speak for me?"

This is the far left's opening salvo's in the war to suppress the conservative right. Next the "Fairness Doctrine" will eliminate the right's ability to get out it's message by muzzling conservative radio shows. Then blogs will be muzzled...finally, everyone will be democrats...

The liberal left is beginning it's push to total control of government and the means to deliver information...just like the Nazi's did (remember Nazi is the acronym for national SOCIALIST workers party).
1.30.2007 4:56am
Chris Bell (mail):
A prominent speaker says in public that "all gay people should be put to death." Barred by the 1st Amendment or not?

Does it change your mind to remember that at least 4% of America is gay, so = 12 million people.
1.30.2007 8:56am
Stacy (mail):
Two things quickly:

1.) Socialism (Communism) and Fascism don't just have similar tropes, they are branches of the same political and ideological tree. Mussolini created fascism by replacing "international" socialism with "national[ist]" socialism after the workers of the world failed to unite in WWI. This is well established, see Hayek, Muravchik, and others

2.) What is "Christian terrorism"? McVeigh et al operated under a paranoid anti-government conspiracy theory that had little if anything to do with any religion, Christian or otherwise. Some of you seem to be trying to mentally balance the world by inventing a "Christianist" movement similar to the Islamist movement that actually does exist.
1.30.2007 9:07am
Barry P. (mail):
I wonder if they are aware that Al-Jazeera has established a TV network and hired David Frost. Has anyone in the Liberal community denounced this anti-Semitic hate network as vehemently as Hedges denounces Christians?

Living in the Middle East, I've seen plenty of alJazeera. If it's an anti-semitic hate network, they're hiding it pretty well. Unless you count reporting on internal Israeli graft and corruption scandals and highlighting frictions within Isreali society as "anti-semitic." Do you have any actual basis for your statement, Moneyrunner?

Also, those claiming that Hitler was a leftist because his party was called the "National Socialist Workers' Party" really don't understand history. All the members of the Nazi party who actually believed the "socialist" part met a nasty end in the Night of the Long Knives. Hitler built the party based upon support of the most conservative elements in German society: the large industrialists and the army. He felt that the worker class was were the traditional elements of Aryan (and thus, German) nationalism resided, as opposed to the petty bourgeoisie, who were in favor of actual socialist economics, personal social liberty and democracy. That's why he had "woker" in the party name: it was an act of pragmatic populism.

Some people might get some personal mileage out of calling Hitler a leftist or socialist, and thus connecting him to modern "liberals", but those people know nothing of history.
1.30.2007 9:38am
Dave N (mail):
Geez,

I started the whole Nazi/Socialist thing by using it as analogy to my comments on Christian Identity versus the Christian Coalition. From a historical context, to say Nazi = Socialist is silly. So is Christian Coalition = Christian Identity.

Martin Niemoller--a Protestant Pastor in Nazi Germany is usually credited with the "First they came" bit, as explained here.

My position all along is that while I disagree with much of the Christian Coalition, and agree that people associated with it have made some statements I vehemently disagree with, I will defend them against those who want to associate them with the truly repulsive people in the Christian Identity Movement.
1.30.2007 10:13am
MEC2 (www):
Wow, so much to comment about...

This reminds me of my own consideration of tolerance of speech around the topic of 9/11 deniers/conspirators, who frankly have said the most risible things I can recall perhaps in my lifetime.

I finally concluded that their vocalized idiocy was proof of a healthy republic, and that their right to say outrageous things did not deny me the right to shout them down in the public square. The shouting down of such things is not censorship, it is as old as the most basic social order itself. While nearly all speech is protected, not nearly all speech carries value. It is right to speak ones mind, it is also right for society to let it be known when such things are so utterly foolish as to deserve derision in unison.

MEC2
P.S. While too little space exists to discuss this fully, socialism and Nazism occupy much of the same political space . You cannot ignore the contortions by socialists and their apologists to compartmentalize Nazism so as to not notice their shared undergirding of statism. Once the state is supreme to the people, where the state goes is simply semantics, though I don't think it's accidental that widespread liquidation of humanity is common to statist regimes, be they led by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot... anywhere where individual liberty is secondary to the state.
1.30.2007 10:57am
Nope (mail):
So "Christian Identity is to Christian Coalition as Sunni is to Shia", eh?

Ok, cool. Then NAMBLA is to PFLAG as Sunni is to Shia.

Are we having fun, now?
1.30.2007 11:08am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

A prominent speaker says in public that "all gay people should be put to death." Barred by the 1st Amendment or not?
Which prominent speaker said that? I must have missed it.

This seems to be a protected form of free speech--rather like when environmentalists call for "Nuremberg-style" trials for global warming skeptics. Nuremberg's punishments included hanging--not a tongue lashing.
1.30.2007 11:19am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Not to detract from what should have been the nadir of your frankly spiteful rhetoric ("homosexuals played a key role in bringing the Nazis to power"), but did you really just say that "[t]here are liberals who support totalitarianism because they are homosexual"?
Elton John's position on freedom of religion and his sexual orientation are very clearly stated, are they not?
1.30.2007 11:23am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:


They try to inculcate zeal in their followers by telling them America was founded by evangelical Christians for evangelical Christians to rule, and that heritage has been "stolen" from them by the secularists, which they rightly should "reclaim." The problem is their historiography is abominable.
It must be abominable indeed to think that America was founded by evangelical Christians--especially when so many states required one to be a Christian (e.g., Maryland), or in some cases, specifically a Protestant (e.g., South Carolina, North Carolina), to hold public office. Massachusetts's 1780 Constitution even directed the legislature to pass mandatory church attendance laws. See
the Pennsylvania 1776 Constutition or the Delaware Constitutional Convention delegate oath for examples.

Now, Jon has made some good points about the unorthodox (by modern fundamentalist standards) beliefs of people like Jefferson and John Adams--but the constitutional and statutory requirements of the early Republic are blindingly clear that this was a Christian nation.
1.30.2007 11:28am
guest (mail):
Chris Hedges is not just some guy on the left. He's not just an angry blogger, or someone with a website and a conspiracy theorist. He was a serious journalist and now is a senior fellow with the Nation Institute, and as such deserves to be taken seriously. Whether he represents some undertow of left-wing fear about "Christianists", or is just getting to be cranky I can't say. But to dismiss his writing and the words in an interview on NPR as something "some guy" said is really not a very thoughtful response. What we have here is a serious left-wing thinker who is proposing that some part of the US polity be silenced. While he did not say "by any means necessary", the history of leftism in the 20th century leaves certain echoes within many people, no matter how hard the left tries to dismiss their concerns.

Let's be blunt: dismissing someone's concerns about being silenced, or playing tu quoque games is hardly a liberal form of argument. Hedges book deserves debunking, and his notion that some people in America simply need to be silenced ought to be strongly contested by people across the political spectrum. I'd like to think the ACLU would among the first to protest, but so far that doesn't seem to be happening for some reason or other.
1.30.2007 11:29am
Colin (mail):
A prominent speaker says in public that "all gay people should be put to death." Barred by the 1st Amendment or not?

Does it change your mind to remember that at least 4% of America is gay, so = 12 million people.


The First Amendment doesn't bar speech. It's permissible under the First Amendment to bar some speech, but I doubt that you'll find anyone here who would include that statement--even us liberals. The VC tends to attract civil libertarians in roughly equal proportion to the hardcore ideologues, and neither in this case are big fans of banning speech. In fact, nearly your exacty hypothetical comes up in the case of Holocaust deniers, and I think it's pretty clear that

Given the sorts of speech that may be banned, I think the statement you propose is less likely to be suppressable than a statement like, "That gay guy over there should be put to death." The broader and less specific it is, I think, the less likely it is to qualify as actionable speech. The First Amendment is hardly my field, but fortunately there are plenty of people here who can correct me if I'm wrong.

NB, the moral and ethical nature of the speech is (to a certain extent) unconnected to whether it's protected. Your hypo is a fine hyberbolic example of loathsome speech, but it doesn't seem to approach the specific characteristics that would make it, say, fighting words or obsenity.
1.30.2007 11:36am
Erisian23 (mail):
Hedges, typical of most hatemongers, seems to suffer from a lack of focus on his target.

>> The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans.

Here it's the "radical Christian Right". Unfortunately, a lot of Christians might consider themselves "radical" for their particular views, denominations, or simply strength of faith. "Radical" is a very weakly defined "some-but-not-all" distinction.

Coupled with "watched by tens of millions of Americans", he's referring to some rather large and popular Christian organizations, not just the ones planting IEDs on the roads the secular humanists frequent.

>> Passivity in the face of the rise of the Christian Right threatens the democratic state.

"Christian Right". No need to even mention "radical". It seems to me if you're going to hatemonger against a subset of a group, you ought to do the larger set the courtesty of making some brightline distinctions.

Of course, we are fortunate that the Left-self-identifying Hedges is no more emblematic of the entire Left as the Right-self-identifying murderers of doctors at unpopular clinics are of the entire Right.

And I'm grateful that doesn't need to be mentioned because the much cherished and eminently respectable Right-wing commenters here at VC are sufficiently intellectual and honorable not to commit an association fallacy just because it feels good to do it.
1.30.2007 11:36am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You guys all need to get out more. First step -- listen to AM radio when you are traveling across the country. I do, on a occasion. The talk radio people and programs out there are pretty scary. No, they don't usually call for the death of homosexuals (though sometimes the call-in public might from time to time), but they certainly do rant on and on about gays being in legion with the devil, out to destroy America and the family, are sexual predators on the your kids, eat shit (literally) and engage in the most vile acts that can possibly be imagined. Oh, and of course AIDS is God's Just Punishment for the sinful homosexual 'lifestyle.'
Hmmm. I live in Idaho. I also listen to a variety of radio stations, from Christian music to talk radio, and the strongest statement that I have ever heard on the radio about homoseuxality is that they are sinners, prone to self-destructive behaviors because they are sinners.

In legion with the devil? Never heard anyone, anywhere say that. AIDS is God's Just Punishment? I have heard Christians point out that the wages of sin are death, and that the high promiscuity of the gay male community made this inevitable.

It is true that child molesters are disproportionately homosexual (about 20-30% of molesters), but I've never heard anyone, anywhere make that claim about all homosexuals, or even imply it. There is just barely some discussion of the connection between child sexual abuse and adult sexual confusion.

I don't think I've EVER heard any radio station discuss the coprophagic subculture.

I'm not saying that these things aren't discussed somewhere, but I've never heard it, and I live in one of the most conservative parts of the U.S.
1.30.2007 11:38am
Colin (mail):
Chris Hedges is not just some guy on the left. He's not just an angry blogger, or someone with a website and a conspiracy theorist. He was a serious journalist and now is a senior fellow with the Nation Institute, and as such deserves to be taken seriously.

But he’s still just one guy. One. Until there’s evidence that his proposal here is being taken as anything more than a curiosity, an example of extremist rhetoric, it’s as ridiculous to impute his beliefs to other liberals as it is to impute the Dominionist movement’s ideals to the Christian Coalition.

Whether he represents some undertow of left-wing fear about "Christianists", or is just getting to be cranky I can't say. But to dismiss his writing and the words in an interview on NPR as something "some guy" said is really not a very thoughtful response. What we have here is a serious left-wing thinker who is proposing that some part of the US polity be silenced. While he did not say "by any means necessary", the history of leftism in the 20th century leaves certain echoes within many people, no matter how hard the left tries to dismiss their concerns.

Now you’re assuming (a) a “by any means necessary” clause, a huge expansion with no support in what he’s actually said, and (b) some greater significance to his words beyond the fact that they’re his words, and no one else’s. When Pat Robertson says that God is giving him prophecies about terrorism and that New Orleans was destroyed for its sin, we don’t assume, “Oh, he must mean that sinful cities must be destroyed, even if we have to do it ourselves,” and we don’t assume, “Oh, he’s a serious guy, we should assume this is a common position.” You’re injecting complete inventions with no factual support.

I'd like to think the ACLU would among the first to protest, but so far that doesn't seem to be happening for some reason or other.

Completely ridiculous. The ACLU would absolutely be the first to file suit if he was actually in a position to suppress speech. We know that because they do, in fact, take action in analogous situations. Your blue-sky hypothesizing is a baseless smear, and it does no credit to your comprehension of the issues or your willingness to approach them seriously. Do you really have to make things up to make your point?
1.30.2007 11:47am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
A prominent speaker says in public that "all gay people should be put to death." Barred by the 1st Amendment or not?


Nope, the First Amendment doesn’t bar any kind of speech.

Does it change your mind to remember that at least 4% of America is gay, so = 12 million people.


I don’t believe for a minute that this unsupported claim is true.
1.30.2007 11:47am
ScurvyOaks (mail):
Hedges writes: "They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication."

What I find most troubling is that Hedges appears to put conversion and eradication in the same category. As a Christian, I'm called to obey the Great Commission. So, yes, Mr. Hedges, I want to convert people. (So does Sam Harris, by the way. He just wants to convert people in the opposite direction.)

But I certainly don't want to eradicate anybody. I think Reconstructionism is a wicked perversion of God's word. As a Christian classical liberal, I disagree with the Robertson-Falwell crowd about a whole host of policy matters.

Back to Hedges: it is extremely troubling that he appears to put attempts at conversion and attempts at eradication in the same category. Both free exercise and free speech protect evangelizing. Mr. Hedges appears quite ready to destroy the village in order to save it.
1.30.2007 11:48am
Barry P. (mail):
socialism and Nazism occupy much of the same political space

Yes, Hitler and the Norwegian prime minister are virtually indistinguishable.

I'd like to think the ACLU would among the first to protest, but so far that doesn't seem to be happening for some reason or other

The ACLU tends to protest when agents of the state act to restrict free speech, not when private citizens exercise it.
1.30.2007 11:55am
Erisian23 (mail):
On the topic of censoring people like Hedges or people that Hedges doesn't like, that's probably unnecessary. He's not calling for immediate harm; he's merely promulgating patently un-American screed. If we forbid unconscionably hateful people from self-identifying by their public speech, it'll make it that much harder to find them and ridicule them.

My real concern with tripe like this is the effect it can have on younger minds. In particular, I believe a society that places a premium on the freedom of speech would be wise to have classes on logic and critical thinking strategies within the public education system.
1.30.2007 11:58am
Colin (mail):
Both free exercise and free speech protect evangelizing. Mr. Hedges appears quite ready to destroy the village in order to save it.

I wonder about that. I agree that evangelizing is protected as free speech, but as free exercise? I’m not very familiar with scholarship on that clause. Does it extend to religious activities that necessarily include non-coreligionists? Insofar as it would protect an evangelist’s freedom to ask for permission to share a message, I don’t see how it differs in practice from the speech right. Is there any way in which exercise and speech aren’t coterminous with regards to evangelism?
1.30.2007 12:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

My question, Clayton, had more to do with your assertion that you have NEVER heard anyone call for gay people to be put in jail. Are you seriously suggesting that those who favor the re-criminalization of sodomy (Santorum, for example) are just encouraging fines? Care to retract the "never"?
I've never heard anyone make that claim in any church that I have ever attended. By the way, did Santorum actually call for re-criminalization of sodomy, or did he criticize the Supreme Court's decision for being unconstitutional?
1.30.2007 12:08pm
johnt (mail):
Mr Hedges was booed at a high school commencement while giving one of his similar thoughtful and urbane talks. I recall there being something of a furor over this, mean parents who probably felt they should see their kids getting their diplomas and not be subjected to hate tripe. No doubt the experience scarred the poor devil, he thinking that people should sit still and obedient while he vents his vitriol.


How many posters on this thread actually take liberals seriously on their professed free speech act, their precious 1st Amendment? Stay calm, there is sentiment in Congress to raise the laughably named Fairness Doctrine from it's grave,dust it off and get the FCC back in business as referee for once free speech. "Fairness", a code word if ever there was one and allied in usuage to "free speech", duck when you hear them.

Hedges at least gives us the benefit of seeing the sentiment behind the charade.
1.30.2007 12:13pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


socialism and Nazism occupy much of the same political space



Yes, Hitler and the Norwegian prime minister are virtually indistinguishable.
Most "socialist" parties in Europe aren't really socialist anymore. They have largely abandoned government ownership of the means of production, except for some key industries. Most "socialist" parties are really welfare state liberalism.
1.30.2007 12:16pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Colin writes:


I wonder about that. I agree that evangelizing is protected as free speech, but as free exercise? I’m not very familiar with scholarship on that clause. Does it extend to religious activities that necessarily include non-coreligionists? Insofar as it would protect an evangelist’s freedom to ask for permission to share a message, I don’t see how it differs in practice from the speech right. Is there any way in which exercise and speech aren’t coterminous with regards to evangelism?
It appears that Colin is looking for some way to justify a ban on evangelism to "non-coreligionists". Sorry, but this is not going to work. Christianity at the time the Constitution was ratified was heavily into evangelism, and the notion that the government could prohibit evangelism without running afoul of the free exercise clause would have been completely incomprehensible
to the Framers.

It appears that Mr. Hedges is not alone on the left in trying to find ways to suppress points of view that they don't like.
1.30.2007 12:20pm
Fen:
Chris Hedges, Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute, former reporter for the New York Times and NPR,

I find Chris Hedges to be hateful and intolerant. He should be silenced.
1.30.2007 12:20pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Yes, Hitler and the Norwegian prime minister are virtually indistinguishable.


Only insofar as there is a distinction between a mugger and a pick pocket.
1.30.2007 12:21pm
ScurvyOaks (mail):
Colin (12:02), very good questions. I'm not at all an expert in the area. I have a hazy recollection from a long-ago con law class that there's some cases dealing with Jehavoah's Witnesses that refers to both clauses. (Can anybody enlighten us?) My wild guess is that the protection under speech and exercise is probably co-terminous w/r/t evangelism. The point I was trying to make it that evangelism is such a core first-amendment behavior that it's protected in two ways.
1.30.2007 12:22pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Now, Jon has made some good points about the unorthodox (by modern fundamentalist standards) beliefs of people like Jefferson and John Adams--but the constitutional and statutory requirements of the early Republic are blindingly clear that this was a Christian nation.


At the state level yes (and given it was at the state level one should not then use the word "Nation" after "Christian") but not at the Federal. And not according to the principles enunciated in the documents Founding the nation (the Declaration, Constitution, and Federalist Papers) in 1776-1789.

Is it any surprise that given our Founding principles, all states would eventually disestablish, Mass. being the last to do so in 1833?
1.30.2007 12:25pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I find Chris Hedges to be hateful and intolerant. He should be silenced.


I agree with your characterization of him but would prefer that his right to speak be protected even though he doesn’t believe in respecting the rights of others to do the same.
1.30.2007 12:31pm
Barry P. (mail):
Most "socialist" parties are really welfare state liberalism

The dittoheads rarely make such nuanced distinctions. Leftist/liberal/socialist/welfare statist/collectivist are usually considered synonyms. And then there are those "Re-defeat Communism" T-shirts with HRC's face on them. Perhaps this whole thread merely illustrates that broad-brush overgeneralization is a convenient tool for the intellectually lazy, regardless of his political home.
1.30.2007 12:33pm
Colin (mail):
It appears that Colin is looking for some way to justify a ban on evangelism to "non-coreligionists".

An absolutely absurd insult. It is beyond belief that you could have read that into my comment any support or sympathy for a “ban on evangelism.” You should be ashamed of yourself for blatantly mischaracterizing my comments - as I said before, you reach to incredible depths to tar anyone who irks you with whatever brush lies close at hand, no matter how despicable. If you truly did misunderstand my comment—which I do not believe—then you need to work very seriously on basic reading comprehension. Reread what I wrote, looking specifically for these clauses: “I agree that evangelizing is protected as free speech,” and “Is there any way in which exercise and speech aren’t coterminous with regards to evangelism?
1.30.2007 12:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe writes:



At the state level yes (and given it was at the state level one should not then use the word "Nation" after "Christian") but not at the Federal. And not according to the principles enunciated in the documents Founding the nation (the Declaration, Constitution, and Federalist Papers) in 1776-1789.
The federal government's authority was extraordinarily limited (at least, that's what everyone claimed), and as Noah Webster observed, the diversity of denominations within the country rendered the sort of establishments that were common at the state level impracticable. The federal government's authority in the area of religion was limited precisely because state authority was not.

Is it any surprise that given our Founding principles, all states would eventually disestablish, Mass. being the last to do so in 1833?
Actually it is surprising. The federal government's power was limited; the state governmental powers were not. More importantly, it was not because it was unconstitutional for states to have establishments of religion, or religious preferences, but because the popular sentiment against establishments changed.

The First Amendment did not prohibit all manners of state establishments and preferences, and if you want to understand what Americans felt on the subject, look not at what the limited federal government could do, but look at what the states were allowed to do.

In any case, no one is pushing for state establishments of religion. The problem is that the ACLU has argued for, and the courts have largely accepted, an understanding of the First Amendment that is contrary to the evidence of original intent. The federal government repeatedly took actions that showed a clear preference for religion over irreligion, and even using the status of state laws with respect to religion in 1868, when the 14th Amendment was ratified, it would be impossible to defend the ACLU's position.
1.30.2007 12:39pm
Erisian23 (mail):
johnt:

>> How many posters on this thread actually take liberals seriously on their professed free speech act, their precious 1st Amendment? Stay calm, there is sentiment in Congress to raise the laughably named Fairness Doctrine from it's grave,dust it off and get the FCC back in business as referee for once free speech.

Well, I do, for one. I'm definitely more liberal than conservative (and not particularly good at either of them). I comfortable with the forced redistribution of a portion of your and my individual private properties to individuals suffering from an extreme lack of said properties. I'm also all for auctioning off wireless spectrum to the highest bidders, ending content regulation on radio, broadcast television, and cable and satellite services, and then shutting down most of the FCCs bureaus and offices.

As a result, as a liberal I do not support a "referee for once free speech", which may or may not please some liberals. Also as a result, I suspect there will be something of an invasion of softcore porn on many channels, probably not an effect many conservatives will be in love with either.

Ultimately there are two groups of people who think free speech is best when censored to their own preferences by a gov't agency. We call them "the Right" and "the Left". It can be challenging to take either at face value on the topic of free speech some days.
1.30.2007 12:41pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Colin writes:


Reread what I wrote, looking specifically for these clauses: “I agree that evangelizing is protected as free speech,” and “Is there any way in which exercise and speech aren’t coterminous with regards to evangelism?”
I saw what you wrote--and in the context of a discussion of Mr. Hedges's attempts to justify silencing the Christian RIght, what possible reason would you have for making this distinction, except as part of his campaign to suppress free speech?
1.30.2007 12:41pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


Most "socialist" parties are really welfare state liberalism


The dittoheads rarely make such nuanced distinctions. Leftist/liberal/socialist/welfare statist/collectivist are usually considered synonyms. And then there are those "Re-defeat Communism" T-shirts with HRC's face on them. Perhaps this whole thread merely illustrates that broad-brush overgeneralization is a convenient tool for the intellectually lazy, regardless of his political home.
You mean like, "Bush=Hitler"? Yes, there's plenty of intellectually lazy people out there.
1.30.2007 12:42pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Me:

"Does it change your mind to remember that at least 4% of America is gay, so = 12 million people."

Thorley Winston:

I don’t believe for a minute that this unsupported claim is true.


OK, so I went to a non-Gay-lovin' website that collected data on this. The Family Research Institutite. (They've got a nice picture of the Supreme Court on their website, but I'm sure they are impartial.) Here was what it said about people who have had homosexual experiences:


2. The best studies include:

a. USA:
Kinsey-NORC 1970 – 8.2% M, 4.3% F after age 15
FRI-Dallas 1984 – 10.7% M, 7.4% F after age 12
NCHS 1988-91 – ² 3.5% M since 1977 (over 50,000 respondents)
GSS 1989 – less than 6.3% M after age 17
RTI-Dallas 1989 – 7.6% M, 2.7% F since 1978
GSS 1990 – 4.8% M after age 17
Billy/Guttmacher 1993 – 2.3% M in last 10 years

b. Australia:
Ross 1986 – 11.2 M, 4.6% F

c. Great Britain
Forman/Chilvers 1984-86 – 1.7% M in random controls, 2.7% M among patients
Johnson 1992 – 6.1% M (almost 19,000 respondents)

d. France
Spira 1992 – 4.1% M, 2.6% F (over 20,000 respondents)

e. Norway
Sundet 1987 – 3.5% M, 3.0% F

f. Denmark
Schmidt 1989 – 3.8% M
Melbye 1989 – 2.7% M

3. Median of studies listed above: 4.1% M, 2.0% F
Upper quartile: 7.0% M, 4.6% F



I used the 4% number because I understood it to be the most widely accepted. (I had heard it repeatedly even before I looked it up; I even think there was a volokh-comment argument over it a while ago.)

So don't believe it if you don't want to I guess. Gay advocacy groups (with their own leanings and biases) find the number to be more like 10%.
1.30.2007 1:00pm
Colin (mail):
I saw what you wrote--and in the context of a discussion of Mr. Hedges's attempts to justify silencing the Christian RIght, what possible reason would you have for making this distinction, except as part of his campaign to suppress free speech?

Not every commenter is a hyper-partisan, out to score points against the opposition. I'm interested in whether the FE and FS clauses are functionally identical when it comes to evangelism, or whether there is a practical or theoretical distinction. I assume that FE doesn't empower an evangelist to force an audience to listen to their message, so the right seems co-terminous with the speech right to present or offer a message for receipt by a willing or already-available listener. I'm curious about the interaction of these two overlapping freedoms, and whether ScurvyOaks or others see a difference in the coverage of the clauses in this context. (And thanks to ScurvyOaks for responding to my question; I'd be very interested in hearing others' ideas.)

I've made several comments disparaging Hedge's remarks, and pointing out how ridiculous others' attempts to impute those remarks to liberals in general are. Your pretense at incomprehension is a farce. How could you honestly believe that I support his proposal, after my several specific responses above? If you were not notorious for comments accusing those with whom you disagree of every conceivable grotesquerie, then I would take it more personally. (See, e.g., your earlier comments blaming homosexuals for the rise of Nazism and totalitarianism in general.) As it is, I'm just glad you didn't contrive an excuse to accuse me of something more loathsome. Do you not mark a distinction between academic discussion and nasty, personal insinuations?
1.30.2007 1:06pm
MlR:
"But he’s still just one guy. One. Until there’s evidence that his proposal here is being taken as anything more than a curiosity, an example of extremist rhetoric, it’s as ridiculous to impute his beliefs to other liberals as it is to impute the Dominionist movement’s ideals to the Christian Coalition."

...Nevermind that his proposal is not unheard of in certain nations of the [newfound] leftist EUtopia of Europe.
1.30.2007 1:18pm
MlR:
IOW, there is no freedom of speech in numerous European nations.
1.30.2007 1:19pm
Just A guest (mail):
Hedges is not "just one guy", he's someone with a serious position at The Nation Institute. He's someone who The Nation apparently regards as significant, someone NPR went to the trouble to interview. Pointing out this fact doesn't impute his views to anyone else, but dismissing him as "one guy" when he's part of a larger leftwing institution is disingenuous.

Like it or not, he's calling for a segment of the polity to be silenced. Like it or not, he's a leftist. Like it or not, leftism for over 100 years has demonstrated a tendency to silence its enemies "by any means necessary". No, Hedges did not say that, but he's part of a much larger movement with a history, a past. The American left in the 1920's and 1930's idolized Lenin and Stalin. The American left in the 1950's and 1960's cheered Mao. For a brief time in the 1970's, there were leftwing admirers of Pol Pot; Anthony Lewis of the NY Times took quite a long time to finally admit the truth of what leftists had done in People's Kampuchea, for example. Sure, leftists look back today at these things for the most part with distaste, but the fact remains that for three generations, American leftists have flirted with totalitarianism over and over and over again, and not just overseas, you may recall the Weathermen to pick one example. One of the commonalities on the left was the tendency to dismiss dissidents, and to go along with their silencing for far too long. Find a leftist today who has read "Against All Hope", and reached a conclusion about Fidel's paradise, for example.

You can't wish away this history. So when an American leftist talks about silencing American Christian people, it's going to call to mind the Soviet silencing of Russian Christians, the Chinese treatment of Christians, and so forth. You may not like it, I'm sure it strikes you as unfair, but the complicity of the American left in oppression of religious people by other Leftists has too long of a history to simply dismiss out of hand, if you are actually debating in good faith.

The ACLU does not just file lawsuits. Its various chapter Presidents also make public statements from time to time, as do board members, on issues such as free speech. Perhaps ACLU has already criticized Hedges idea, and I am not aware of it. But so far I am unable to find any such criticism. I find that to be curious.

If some writer at the Hoover Institution put out a book claiming that atheists were a danger to the republic, and it was high time that the were silenced, I daresay there would be a huge outcry about it, and the Northern California ACLU would make a public statement rather quickly. The fact that there is no such outcry from the NYCLU that I can find is interesting. The fact that liberals and leftists, who are so quick to find bigotry and danger in the writings of their opponents, are dismissive of this book and idea as the notion of "just one guy" is also interesting.
1.30.2007 1:26pm
Barry P. (mail):
IOW, there is no freedom of speech in numerous European nations.

Which ones, MIR?

There are state-imposed restrictions on speech in every country on earth, including the US. The difference between the US and Europe is quantitative, not qualitative. High-minded rhetoric notwithstanding.
1.30.2007 1:34pm
Aleks:
Re: It must be abominable indeed to think that America was founded by evangelical Christians

In the modern sense of the term "evengelical Christians" did not exist in the 18th century. Today's evangelical Protestantism arose in the mid 20th century as a reaction against stricter Fundamentalism. To be sure it has some roots in the Great Awakening of the 18th century, but the Founders of our nation were not in any sense "Evangelicals". Most were Christisns (though a few were Deists). They tended to belong to what we now label as liberal or mainstream Protestant churches, and would have more in common with Bishop Spong than with Jerry Falwell.

Re: but the constitutional and statutory requirements of the early Republic are blindingly clear that this was a Christian nation.

Oh, nonsense! Yes, most of the population was Christian, but it's blatantly apparent from the Constitution and their writings that the Founders did not intend for the republic to be in any sense religiously governed. Good grief. And those creeds and such that people were required to affirm at the state level were NOT drafted by the Founders; they were left-overs from English law, drafted either back at the time of the Glorious Revolution (1688, which chased Catholic King James II from the throne) or even from the days of Elizabeth I. And most of these things were speedily gotten rid of, or simply ignored like the obsolete Puritan blue laws.

Re: I have heard Christians point out that the wages of sin are death, and that the high promiscuity of the gay male community made this inevitable.

Um, everybody dies. Gays are no more mortal than anyone else.

Re: the state governmental powers were not.

Many state constitutions included their own bills of rights, or such were speedily added to them after the Founding. The Founders most certainly did not think state governments should hold unlimited, despotic power either.
1.30.2007 1:42pm
Barry P. (mail):
Just a Guest:

You and Hedges are pretty much neck-and-neck in the bogeyman-spotting sweepstakes. I can't wait for your finishing sprint.
1.30.2007 1:50pm
Pat Joy (mail):
This is more widespread then one person. EV posted this in the Huffington Post and not one commenter critized Hedges but plenty of attacks on EV.
1.30.2007 1:50pm
Just a Guest (mail):
Barry P.
The strawman argument is a logical fallacy. Please make a note of this for future reference.
1.30.2007 1:54pm
Erisian23 (mail):
Is it at least remotely possible the ACLU will do the Right thing and join/file against a reincarnation of the Fairness Doctrine? I certainly hope they would, but then again I like the ACLU because its been my perception (right or wrong) that they've been moving back towards their basic civil liberty roots over the last decade+.

Pro-FCC Censorship?
Writers, Filmmakers, Performers and Free Speech Groups Urge Court to Reject FCC Censorship
http://www.aclu.com/freespeech/censorship/ 27546prs20061130.html

Anti-God?
ACLU of New Jersey Applauds Ruling in Favor of Student's Right to Sing "Awesome God"
http://www.aclu.com/religion/schools/ 27673prs20061212.html

In its brief, the ACLU of New Jersey argued that no reasonable observer would have believed that the school endorsed the religious message behind the student's song, and that the school therefore had no right to deny her choice of song.


Fairness Doctrine?
Past support well-known; current support unknown, to me at least (link is to 1994 article. I couldn't find anything more recent.)
http://www.reason.com/news/show/32218.html

Strossen: We have historically supported the Fairness Doctrine, although I've dissented from that position, as have other prominent people within the ACLU. Our basis for supporting it was so narrow and so historically contingent that I really have my doubts as to whether even the Fairness Doctrine itself would be reaffirmed if the ACLU National Board took another look at it. It was based on the notions of spectrum scarcity and of gov- ernment [sic] having conveyed a public trust, if you will, to the broadcasters. Both facts have changed substantially. We have never taken that position with respect to any other media and certainly have never taken it with respect to print media.
1.30.2007 1:59pm
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):
"I agree that evangelizing is protected as free speech, but as free exercise?"

IANAL, but my impression is that city ordinances banning door-to-door proselytizing are constitutional so long as they ban all proselytizing. I'm not as sure that this isn't a "time, place, and manner" restriction such as the courts permit for speech, meaning that it really doesn't answer the question.
1.30.2007 2:00pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Reconstructionists/Dominionists have nothing to do with Christian Identity.

Reconstructionists/Dominionists are fundamentalist Christians who want society reconstructed around Biblical principles (oversimplified, Leviticus should be the Penal Code).

Christian Identity (also known as British Israel) is a racist movement that argues that white Europeans are the descendants of the tribes of Israel, and are God's chosen people (many of them also believe that Jews are the spawn of the snake copulating with Eve). A large portion of their people are the Aryan Nations members.

Nick
1.30.2007 2:05pm
ScurvyOaks (mail):
Colin, I've taken a very cursory look, and the cases on proselytizing (at least by the Jehovah's Witnesses) are analyzed under the FE clause. Of particular interest is the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court in Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940).

The Cantwell opinion includes the following, which I think Hedges might profit from reading:

"In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens of a democracy.

The essential characteristic of these liberties is, that under their shield many types of life, character, opinion and belief can develop unmolested and unobstructed."
1.30.2007 2:34pm
ScurvyOaks (mail):
Colin, one more thing and then I'll have to stop. There are some cases that recognize the overlap among the FE, FS and free press clauses in the context of evangelism.

In Murdock v. Pennsylvania, a 1943 case, the Supreme Court noted that “hand distribution of religious tracts is an age-old form of missionary evangelism–as old as the history of printing presses. It has been a potent force in various religious movements down through the years… . This form of religious activity occupies the same high estate under the First Amendment as do worship in the churches and preaching from the pulpits. It has the same claim to protection as the more orthodox and conventional exercises of religion. It also has the same claim as the others to the guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.” 319 U.S. at 109.
1.30.2007 2:57pm
Colin (mail):
Very interesting, ScurvyOaks. Thank you. That's more or less what I remember from law school. I agree that the Cantwell language should be instructive to Hedges. Those cases don't seem to explicitly address whether there is any behavior that is covered as exercise but not as speech, but as I think about it, I can see a few areas. A door-to-door evangelist's practice of ringing doorbells, perhaps, might be exercise but not speech. It's an interesting area, and I'll read those cases (or reread them, surely I read at least one of them in law school) after work. Thanks.
1.30.2007 3:13pm
ScurvyOaks (mail):
Aleks,

I agree with some of what you say, but on this point I differ. The deists among the founders had more in common with Spong than Falwell. But the regularly church-going, communion-taking Anglicans/Episcopalians among the founders would have thought that Spong was an utter heretic. The PECUSA of the 1780s/1790s was not like today's Episcopal church.
1.30.2007 3:27pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I don't think looking at what states were permitted to do is a good way to divine founding ideals if for no other reason than states were permitted to practice slavery, deny women the right to vote, and otherwise deny full legal privileges to people of the "wrong" Christian or other religion.

The founders who wrote our founding documents unanimously agreed that individuals have the right to freely exercise their religion, which in principle, extended to all religions or lack thereof and that government should in no way deny any privileges including holding office on the basis of religion. They didn't support state religious tests and either weren't involved in writing state constitutions with religious tests, or to the extent they may have been, stood against those provisions but didn't possess the requisite power to see them removed.

[For instance, Ben Franklin was involved in writing PA's Constitution yet he despised the following language in it:


And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:

I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.


And Franklin helped to get such an unequivocal violation of the rights of conscience removed from PA's Constitution.]

Some of key Founders like Adams and Washington thought a mild religious establishment was okay as long as it didn't violate the right to Free Exercise. All founders including Jefferson and Madison thought that religion was important to society because of the morality that it produced. But they also made clear it wasn't the Christian religion in particular but "religion" in general which could do the trick. In Mass., many of the Congregational Churches who were awarded such legal privilege preached "infidel" unitarian and universalist doctrines (hence weren't even "Christian" churches).

Jefferson and Madison thought use of public funds to directly support religion violated the rights of conscience (though I think they would have been okay wiht aid to religion given on neutral or secular grounds). Adams and Washington probably would have been okay with public funds going to any Church, even Islam, because all religions -- to them -- produced the morality that republics needs.

In short, the vision that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Morris, and Hamilton had for America was not to "found" it as a "Christian Nation," though their political theology does have theistic underpinnings.
1.30.2007 3:32pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The odd thing (or perhaps not) about Christopher Hedges aguing that hate speech ought to be suppressed is that Hedges himself has been accused of anti-semitism (rightly or wrongly) for his commentary on the Middle East, Israel, and Jews.
1.30.2007 5:11pm
GMUSL 3L (mail):
Chris Bell, since when is someone homosexual just because he or she has had "homosexual experience(s)". At the logical extreme, the figure would seem to include male victims of prison rape and victims of same-sex molestation, even if straight, as homosexual.

Moreover, you'll have to give a pretty good definition of a homosexual experience -- does it include being on a sports team where you all shower naked in a giant room? Fraternity initiations? Drunk college girls making out?

Clearly, the subset of people who have had "homosexual experiences" and those who ARE homosexual is NOT coterminous.
1.30.2007 5:41pm
Randy R. (mail):
The definition of "homosexual" is a hard one to pin down (no pun intended.) Are you gay if you had one homosexual experience? A dozen? If you mix your sexual experience with men and women? We pretty much leave up to each person to decide for him or her self whether they consider themselves a homosexual, which leads to a very vague definition.
Couple that with the reality that most people, even today, really don't think being gay is a positive thing, so they try to hide it from others, and often from themselves. Studies have shown that often times the most homophobic men are often same-sex attracted themselves, but the self-loathing overcomes their innate desires and turns it into hate towards other gays.

The percentage of openly gay people is around 4-5%, as the previous studies have shown. California believes that 10% of the voting public is gay there.

My belief is that the number is much, much higher than 5% Why? Just take a look at any chat room such as on Craig's List or AOL. You will find plenty of men freely admitting that they are married but looking for gay sex. Does that make them homosexual? I don't know, but if you are asking for blowjobs from a man, whether giving or getting, it seems to me that these guys are not entirely hetero either. But they would never consider themselves 'gay' and would not respond as such to a survey. And so they are vastly undercounted. (Ask Ted Haggard, even today, if he is gay. He will likely say no. Six months ago, he certainly denied it, even to himself.)

A friend of mine is a top notch oncologist. Of course, as a medical professional, he needed an accurate history of his patients, including their sexual history. He said that in the past, they would ask if you are gay, but that severely undercounted the real number. So then they began to ask, Do you have sex with other men? The numbers rose quite a bit, but they still felt they weren't accurate. So now they ask, "Do you fuck other men?" The numbers have increased even more, and therefore are much more accurate.

So the question isn't how many men are gay. The question is how many men fuck or get fucked by other men. That number, I can assure you, is much, much higher than 4%.
1.30.2007 6:06pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I don't think that anti-gay folks want to use the definition of someone who has "homosexual experiences" at one point in time in their life. That would drive the percentage of homosexuals to well over 10%.
1.30.2007 6:47pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Thank you Randy R. for your response to GMUSL 3L. It's better than I could have done. My point in the first place was just trying to respond to Thorley Winston's statement that "I don’t believe for a minute that [4% of the population is gay] is true" by offering some evidence.

The conservative website I quoted from earlier had other studies specifically focusing on "gayness" and not "homosexual activity" that I found after I posted earlier. In short, even the religious right admits that there are millions of gay people in this country. I am sure there are even some at GMU.

Colin:

Given the sorts of speech that may be banned, I think the statement you propose is less likely to be suppressable than a statement like, "That gay guy over there should be put to death." The broader and less specific it is, I think, the less likely it is to qualify as actionable speech. The First Amendment is hardly my field, but fortunately there are plenty of people here who can correct me if I'm wrong.

That's really interesting and I'm not sure that you're wrong. It would be very hard to draw that line though.

A speaker tells an "activist" meeting of the Amry of God:
-That guy deserves to be killed for performing abortions
-The gay people in this small town should be put to death
-The gay people in this state should be killed
-Gay people should be put to death

You argue that the first statement has less free speech protection, and the protection increases as we move down. I think that's correct, but it has the funny side effect of insulating the claims that could be the worst.

The last claim supports a mass murder that would numerically exceed the holocaust, yet it is the one we offer the most protection to because it also the most abstract and therefore the least likely to cause imminent violence. That's legally interesting, IMHO.
1.30.2007 6:51pm
Colin (mail):
(As a preface, let me say that although I enjoy FA issues, I haven't had a chance to study them since law school. Forgive me if my analysis is ignorant.)

I agree in a very limited way that the protection can wax on the statements you list even as their potential harm goes up, but only if you ignore probability. That is, the worst claims are also the ones that are less and less likely to ever be realized. In other words, protection waxes as the speaker's and/or audience's ability to carry out the threat wanes. I agree that this is a legally interesting result, but I also think that it's the most appropriate, not just Constitutionally, but ethically and morally.

As an aside, I believe that extremely abstract remarks are certainly possible of causing atrocious wrongs. But because we can't reliably discern which abstractions pose a real danger and which are mere rhetoric, there's no principled way to regulate abstract expressions, even if that was the agreed societal goal.
1.30.2007 7:18pm
Just A Guest (mail):
A little time spent at the local Big Box Bookstore showed me that Hedges is part of a larger group of authors. Here are some more titles that one can find simply by walking around in Barnes/Hastings/Borders:

"Religion gone bad: the hidden dangers of the Christian right"

"Piety &politics: the right-wing assault on religious freedom"

"Atheist universe: the thinking person's answer to Christian fundamentalism"

"Thy kingdom come: how the religious right distorts the faith and threatens America"


It appears that demonizing Christians is a well-funded activity, and that Hedges is hardly alone in his efforts. If there were a bunch of books in Big Box stores proclaiming the dangers of Judaism, Islam, or atheism, I'm sure it would be viewed with alarum by the self-appointed defenders of diversity.

But demonization of Christians is no problem, no big deal, no sweat. How very interesting.
1.30.2007 8:29pm
Colin (mail):
I don't know about Judaism, not having looked, but I can absolutely guarantee that there are shelves full of books "proclaiming the dangers of . . . Islam, or atheism." See, i.e., David Limbaugh. Shrill screeds get sneered at, but that's about it. They're still in the bookstore, they're still for sale (probably selling fairly well), and you're dropping even further into the realm of meaningless gabble by making claims so obviously detached from reality.
1.30.2007 8:59pm
Aleks:
Re: Reconstructionists/Dominionists are fundamentalist Christians who want society reconstructed around Biblical principles

The Reconstructionists at least are fairly extreme Calvinists-- more extreme in some ways than Calvin himself. As such there is a fair amount of animosity between them and Baptists and Evanglicals. I even saw a post online by a Reconstructionist who referred to Pat Robertson as a "heretical, premillennialist idiot".

Re: I agree with some of what you say, but on this point I differ. The deists among the founders had more in common with Spong than Falwell. But the regularly church-going, communion-taking Anglicans/Episcopalians among the founders would have thought that Spong was an utter heretic. The PECUSA of the 1780s/1790s was not like today's Episcopal church.

The gentleman of the Enlightenment had some very unorthodox ideas about theology in their day. Even those who attended the Anglican Church. But even then the Anglican Church was a sort of grab-bag of people with religious views all over the map; it was mainly a club for the elite. Had Ms Florence King been alive then and made her rather charming remark "I am High Church Episocopalian atheist" it would have been considered a classic drawing room witicism (perhaps more so then than now), not a shocking admission of heresy. We need to remember that the conservatives of that era were not the people who founded our nation: they were the Tories who stayed loyal to the British Crown. The politics of the Founders was decidedly leftwing by the standards of their day and by and large so too was their philosophy on most other matters. And also, more than a few were also Masons, and their personal views on theology seem to be more influenced by the mystical universalism of that organization than by the Fathers of the Church.

Re: Couple that with the reality that most people, even today, really don't think being gay is a positive thing

Most peopele in the entire world, maybe. But in the US, opinion is pretty well evenly divided on the question (with a large segment that doesn't care one way or the other) and the seriously anti-gay contingent is dwindling every year as the oldest generation dies off.

Re: The percentage of openly gay people is around 4-5%

Probably accurate (key word: "openly") given that in the election of 2000 4% of those polled admitted to being gay, lesbian or bisexual, while openly gay people voted at about 80% the rate of the general population. Of couyrse if you take the closet into acccount there are a lot more gay people still.
1.30.2007 9:01pm
Just A Guest (mail):

What claims have I made that are "obviously detached from reality", exactly? Can you please be specific?
1.30.2007 9:03pm
Just A Guest (mail):
"I can absolutely guarantee that there are shelves full of books "proclaiming the dangers of . . . Islam, or atheism." See, i.e., David Limbaugh."

I found two books promoting atheism quite quickly, in addition to the one I listed above, and did not see any opposing atheism in my quick survey. Perhaps I missed some, so surely you can provide the titles? I was unaware that David Limbaugh had written shelves full of books. I also did not see any books proclaimiing any danger from Islam, although there was a book by Esposito and one by Karen Armstrong on the shelves.

I apologize if the facts I have seen do not match your preconceptions.
1.30.2007 9:15pm
Just A Guest (mail):
Colin, furthermore I did not see any books by Spencer on Islam, nor did I see Trefovic's book. Perhaps they were sold out, or located on shelves far away from any other books on religion or history. That really is irrelevent to the point I raised, though, that Hedges is part of a larger group of leftists who have written books attacking a particular group of Christians in such a way as to demonize them.

Perhaps you can address the substance of my remarks next time around, rather than engaging in sneering and namecalling? That might be more useful and interesting.
1.30.2007 9:22pm
Colin (mail):
I found two books promoting atheism quite quickly, in addition to the one I listed above, and did not see any opposing atheism in my quick survey. Perhaps I missed some, so surely you can provide the titles?

Wow. Two books promoting atheism? You should frequent larger bookstores. Does yours not stock, e.g., Ann Coulter's Godless, or Danger of Islam by Gene Thompson? Buddy, that's from ten seconds of searching the Borders website. If you really expect us to believe that you can go into a B&N or Borders and not find a book of Ideology A Badmouthing Ideology B, then you really are detached from reality. Or, more likely, you're used to forums where you can make baseless partisan claims and not get challenged on them.
1.30.2007 10:16pm
johnt (mail):
Erisian23, I give you credit for consistency and do hope eventually you will look for the elimination of more then just the FCC.
Off thread but I must demur at your advocacy of the "forced" divestiture of both my and your assets to people I don't know.
Yours alright, but mine?? The lack of something may, or it may not, prove a need. In itself it cannot prove a claim. You might if you haven't already done so consider the full implications of the word "forced". That is, moral, social, and political.
As I said, off thread and so signing off.
1.30.2007 10:52pm
Just A Guest (mail):
I didn't see Coulter's books, perhaps they are in the remainder stacks, and have never heard of Gene Thompson, but will take your word for the title of his book.

"If you really expect us to believe that you can go into a B&N or Borders and not find a book of Ideology A Badmouthing Ideology B, then you really are detached from reality. Or, more likely, you're used to forums where you can make baseless partisan claims and not get challenged on them."

Thanks for sharing that, it really adds to the discussion.
1.30.2007 11:07pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Thank you Randy R. for your response to GMUSL 3L. It's better than I could have done. My point in the first place was just trying to respond to Thorley Winston's statement that "I don’t believe for a minute that [4% of the population is gay] is true" by offering some evidence.


The only “evidence” you offered was a survey of various “studies” which claimed that the number who had a “homosexual experience” was about 4%. Both you and Randy R mistakenly confused that as representing the percentage of the population which is actually homosexual. As GMUSL 3L pointed out, but such a broad and ambiguous standard then every victim of same sex sexual assault (e.g. prison) or LUG could be included as part of that number. Which means that the number who are actually homosexual would be much smaller.
1.31.2007 2:47pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Thorley:

You forgot the part where I said there was other evidence about people who were "openly" gay. These numbers, on the flip side, do not take into account "closet" homosexuals, of which I expect there are many. If you want to run your own survey, go ahead, but don't just keep carping that 4% is flatly unbelievable to you.

The bottom line the entire time, and the real point I was trying to make was this:

- There are millions of gay people in the United States. -

True or false?

It's true. And it should therefore make you shudder when you hear someone say that gays should be put to death, because you should realize they are calling for a slaughter on the same scale as the holocaust.
1.31.2007 4:19pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Alexs writes so much that is wrong:



Re: It must be abominable indeed to think that America was founded by evangelical Christians



In the modern sense of the term "evengelical Christians" did not exist in the 18th century. Today's evangelical Protestantism arose in the mid 20th century as a reaction against stricter Fundamentalism. To be sure it has some roots in the Great Awakening of the 18th century, but the Founders of our nation were not in any sense "Evangelicals". Most were Christisns (though a few were Deists). They tended to belong to what we now label as liberal or mainstream Protestant churches, and would have more in common with Bishop Spong than with Jerry Falwell.
So much wrong. Evangelical Protestantism includes fundamentalist Protestantism along with a number of more liberal denominations. On matters such as Biblical literalism, for example, 18th century Christians were much closer to modern fundamentalists than any liberal Christian denomination today. The rise of modern stratigraphic geology and evolution, for example, created great tensions with even quite mainstream denominations such as the Anglican Church. Fundamentalism as a distinct movement appears in the first decade of the 20th century in response to the increasingly liberal theology being taught at the close of the 19th century in the existing American seminaries.

The notion that the Framers had more in common with Bishop Spong than modern fundamentalists is laughable. Bishop Spong is gay--and in 18th century terms, that made him a felon. In most states, subject to capital punishment.

Re: but the constitutional and statutory requirements of the early Republic are blindingly clear that this was a Christian nation.


Oh, nonsense! Yes, most of the population was Christian, but it's blatantly apparent from the Constitution and their writings that the Founders did not intend for the republic to be in any sense religiously governed. Good grief.
The national government, agreed. But the state governments created state establishments of religion and imposed religious qualifications for holding public office.
And those creeds and such that people were required to affirm at the state level were NOT drafted by the Founders; they were left-overs from English law, drafted either back at the time of the Glorious Revolution (1688, which chased Catholic King James II from the throne) or even from the days of Elizabeth I. And most of these things were speedily gotten rid of, or simply ignored like the obsolete Puritan blue laws.
Utterly wrong again. These requirements appear in state constitutions adopted at the time, such as the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. The Delaware Constitutional Convention delegate's oath was NOT a piece of ancient work that just happened to fall into place. They amended the text at least once to make it more clear. Making this stuff up as you go along isn't going to work.

Maryland did not amend its religious test to allow "religious Jews" to hold public office until 1809.

Re: I have heard Christians point out that the wages of sin are death, and that the high promiscuity of the gay male community made this inevitable.


Um, everybody dies. Gays are no more mortal than anyone else.
Take a look at the death rates from AIDS. If you aren't a gay man, a IV drug abuser, or someone who has sex with one of the two, your risks of getting AIDS and dying a premature and horrible death, are quite tiny.

Re: the state governmental powers were not.


Many state constitutions included their own bills of rights, or such were speedily added to them after the Founding. The Founders most certainly did not think state governments should hold unlimited, despotic power either.
To clarify: the U.S. Constitution limited the federal government quite severely, and took away a number of powers from the states, but otherwise left them free to do whatever their state constitutions and the wisdom(?) of their legislators chose.
1.31.2007 5:49pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
On the homosexual/sexual morality issue our Founders -- even the Enlightenment ones -- certainly weren't social liberals; but I see little evidence of philosophizing about sexual issues anywhere in their writings. Franklin and G. Morris were quite libertine in the way they lived their lives. Adams, on the other hand, did endorse the "prudery" of traditional Christian morality.

The one thing our key Founders (Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin at the least) did seem to have in common with liberal Christians of today like Gene Robinson is their willingness to scrap traditional Church doctrines and "read out" wholesale entire portions of scripture and replace such with the "judgments" of man's reason, which they held to be the ultimate arbiter of truth.

Thus, arguments like homosexuality is wrong because my Church says X or Leviticus says Y or Paul said Z really wouldn't resonate with them (a Thomistic argument from Nature more likely would).

All in all, I really don't see Howard Dean's vision of a Nature's/liberal Christian God who created gay people qua gay people to be inconsistent, in principle, with Jefferson's, Franklin's and Adams' "benevolent" Creator.
1.31.2007 6:51pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Bishop Spong is gay--and in 18th century terms, that made him a felon. In most states, subject to capital punishment.


I think you confuse Bishop Spong with Gene Robinson. Bishop Spong is, I understand, pro-gay, but heterosexual himself.
1.31.2007 6:53pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Here is Franklin on the religious test in PA's Constitution, which document (but not that clause) he helped to write:


I agreed with you in Sentiments concerning the Old Testament, and thought the Clause in our Constitution, which required the Members of Assembly to declare their belief that the whole of it was given by divine Inspiration, had better have been omitted. That I had opposed the Clause but being overpower’d by Numbers, and fearing might in future times be grafted on [it, I Pre]vailed to have the additional Clause that no [further or more ex]tended Profession of Faith should ever [be exacted. I ob]serv’d to you, too, that the Evil of it was [the less, as no In]habitant, nor any Officer of Government except the Members of Assembly, were oblig’d to make that Declaration. So much for that Letter. To which I may now add, that the[re are] several Things in the old Testament impossible to be given by divine Inspiration (Rowe's emphasis), such as the Approbation ascrib’d to the Angel of the Lord, of that abominably wicked and detestable Action of Jael the Wife of Heber the Kenite. If the rest of the Book were like that, I should rather suppose it given by Inspiration from another Quarter, and renounce the whole.


Franklin gives us a pretty good reason why he would oppose that clause -- he himself wouldn't have passed such a test! In Brooke Allen's book, she notes that Franklin as President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, has this clause removed. But I'm still trying to confirm this in the primary sources.
1.31.2007 7:20pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Aha. Found something interesting from Benjamin Rush on the matter, who likewise appeared to despise the religious test in PA's Constitution:



Benjamin Rush to Richard Price

15 Oct. 178522 Apr. 1786Letters 1:371, 385--86
[15 Oct. 1785]

I took the liberty of publishing, with your name, your excellent letter on the test law of Pennsylvania. It has already had a great effect on the minds of many people, and I doubt not will contribute more than anything to repeal that law. Dr. Franklin, who has succeeded Mr. Dickinson as our governor, has expressed his surprise at the continuance of such a law since the peace, and we hope will add the weight of his name to yours to remove such a stain from the American Revolution.

[22 Apr. 1786]

I am very happy in being able to inform you that the test law was so far repealed a few weeks ago in Pennsylvania as to confer equal privileges upon every citizen of the state. The success of the friends of humanity in this business should encourage them to persevere in their attempts to enlighten and reform the world. Your letter to me upon the subject of that unjust law was the instrument that cut its last sinew.


Rush calls it a "a stain from the American Revolution." This is what I mean when I suggest we try to view the Founding from the perspective of its ideals rather than its compromises with those ideals. The key Founders regarded religious tests to be not unlike slavery, grave compromises with Founding ideals as enunciated in the Declaration.
1.31.2007 7:28pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I fully support Hedges' right to call for speech restrictions by those on the religious right--just as I fully support the right of misguided congressmen to call for an amendment to ban flag burning, but I would fight tooth and nail if either one came close to becoming law.

Arguing that the speech of your philosophical opponents should be suppressed absent any legal mechanisms for actually suppressing that speech is...just more speech.

As to the Fairness Doctrine, since it only ever applied to the media broadcast over the "public airwaves" (that seemingly scarce resource, at the time), and since most TV has already migrated to cable, I suspect the biggest beneficiaries of a reinstituted Fairness Doctrine would be the Satellite Radio folks.
1.31.2007 10:01pm
Aleks:
Re: On matters such as Biblical literalism, for example, 18th century Christians were much closer to modern fundamentalists than any liberal Christian denomination today

This is patent nonsense. The 18th century had not yet abandoned the centuries-old tradition of ecclesial hermaneutics-- meaning that the interpretation of the Bible was left (even among Protestants) to Church authorities and those with special training, including fluent knowledge of the original languages of Scripture. The sort of know-nothing populism which supposes that anyone can open the Bible and pronounce infallibly on doctrine was rejected as heresy as much by Protestant churches as by the Catholics or the Orthodox (see: Luther's ferce denunciations of the Anabaptists and other self-inspired movements in the Reformation). Scriptural literalism and personal interpretation is a child of the 19th century. If you read the Christian doctrinal literature from earlier periods you will find a profoundly symbolic and typological approach taken to Scripture, a search for deep meaning beneath the surface words.

Re: The notion that the Framers had more in common with Bishop Spong than modern fundamentalists is laughable.

Bishop Spong's particular beliefs may not have been common in the 18th century, but his liberal approach most certainly was, at least among the elites. It is quite impossible to view the Founders as a group as having anything but theological heterodox (a fancy word for near-heretical) notions, just as they did in politics. Again, they were the liberals of their day. The conservatives believed in things like monarchy, aristocracy and the divine right of kings.

Re: But the state governments created state establishments of religion

Your verb has the wrong tense. Use the pluperfect and (and de-universalize the subject) you will be correct: SOME state governments HAD created established religions-- long before the Revolution, often at their own founding. The founders did NOT create established churches-- they inherited them only, and worked to disestablish them at the state level.

Re: These requirements appear in state constitutions adopted at the time

They are simply repeated in constitutions drafted at the time, with their source being earlier constitutions and royal charters and ultimately English law as shaped by Elizabeth I and later amended by the post-Jacobian Whigs.

Re: Take a look at the death rates from AIDS.

Your point is what? Do you know any immortal humans? I mean immortal in flesh. I'll give you Jesus, but even He died, you know. Whether we die of AIDS, cancer, a heart attack, a car wreck, or whatever-- we will die. It's theologically correct to say "the wage of sin is death" but it is absolutely not correct to go on to state that that is somehow more true of some people than of others. The greatest saints alawys considered themselves the chiefmost of sinners. While the Pharisees went about pointing out others' sins to inflate their own righteousness. But you can no more be semi-mortal than you can be semi-pregnant. And for that matter, my cat will die and so will the rose bush outside my window. Pray tell what dire sins they are guilty of?

Re; On the homosexual/sexual morality issue our Founders -- even the Enlightenment ones -- certainly weren't social liberals; but I see little evidence of philosophizing about sexual issues anywhere in their writings.

It's worth noting that several new states (e.g., Ohio) decrminalized sodomy and several other sexual offenses when they redrafted their laws on achieving statehood as men at the time, still influenced by the Enlightenment, considered these to be superstitious laws, unfit for a free and educated people.
1.31.2007 10:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thorley: The only “evidence” you offered was a survey of various “studies” which claimed that the number who had a “homosexual experience” was about 4%. Both you and Randy R mistakenly confused that as representing the percentage of the population which is actually homosexual. As GMUSL 3L pointed out, but such a broad and ambiguous standard then every victim of same sex sexual assault (e.g. prison) or LUG could be included as part of that number. "

Uh, no. You misread my comments. I said that most studies have found that about 4-5% of the entire population is 'openly gay,' which is in fact a very limited definition, as I explained. A closeted gay person is by definition someone who will not admit to being gay. The looser the definition, the higher the numbers go up. So if you put together open gays AND closeted gays, the number will be much higher than 5%. If you put that group together with those who secretely harbor the desire to have sex with men but don't act upon it, the numbers go much higher. And so on. In fact, I have seen studies that state that as much as 20% of the population has had same-sex attraction for a certain duration at some point of their lives. Whether that means a person is "gay" is a labeling issue. (I know so-called straight men who routinely have sex with men, but it doesn't 'count' as sex because they don't kiss! As so in their minds, their are 100% heterosexual, and get angry if you suggest otherwise. Men can always rationalize a way to get what they want....)

But the point remains regardless of these facts: The number of people having same-sex relationships in the US is at least in the tens of millions.
2.1.2007 11:50am