Saturday, December 29, 2007


This article should provoke some thought regarding the need to limit our seemingly cherished "freedom of speech" when it comes to hate speech that can incite violence against any person or any minority group.

No one, particularly any clergy person, has the right to use his/her bully pulpit and whose "religious" credentials gives him/her the ability and the credibility sufficient for parents to take them seriously, even to the point of kicking their Gay children out of the house and forcing them to live on the street; have bullying of students perceived to be Gay; set the stage for countless suicides, bashings, and murders of LGBT people; have Gay people live lives of quiet and sometimes not so quiet desperation.

Why do people, including all too many Gay people, take the rantings of twisted clergy and others seriously? Why do people allow these warped creatures who parade their ignorance and hatred as being evidence of their "morality" and "Godliness" to allow them to define their realities for them?

Why do LGBT people sit still for such indignities? Why aren't these clergy and their churches routinely and continuously picketed by people who are sick and tired of being discriminated against? Why do LGBT people allow themselves to continue to suffer the indignities that are part and parcel of such rhetoric and the consequent deprivation of full and equal civil rights?

Read the full article, but here are two brief snippets of it to give you a flavor of what we're dealing with:

"Evangelical preachers, mostly trained in the US, have been making inroads in mostly Catholic Spain attracting a large number of followers.

"Meanwhile, the Catholic bishop of the Canary island Tenerife is under fire for comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and drug addiction.

"[Bishop Bernardo] Alvarez claimed that many minors seek out adults for sex.

"'If one isn't careful, they could even provoke it,' Alvarez said. 'Sexuality is more complicated than one suspects.'"

Beyond asking how Alverez would know about the complications of sexuality if he were celibate, one additional tactic that might be considered is suing outspoken homophobes in the U.S. whose rhetoric can reasonably be inferred to possibly incite violence and/or who slander or libel LGBT people.

They are able to have such redress of this great wrong in Spain, and I see no reason why we can't have such a provision in this country. Freedom of speech doesn't embrace shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, as Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once ruled.

"The case Brandenburg v. Ohio found that the US government could restrict free speech only if it was 'likely to incite imminent lawless action'." [See here.]

Therefore, if any clergy person, politician, or anyone else, for that matter, engages in rhetoric that can be reasonably construed by the average person as a vehicle to incite violence, and such violence occurs, that person should be brought up on criminal charges!

When homophobic haters and hate mongers spread lies about Gay people, they are slandering (through their speech) and/or libeling (through the written word) Gay people, and there should be provisions to take those liars to court and collect compensatory and punitive damages.

In addition, a good case can be made that such hate speech (albeit often, but not always, couched in sanctimonious rhetoric) can very well be "likely to incite imminent lawless action" as the existence of all too many assaults and murders of LGBT people can attest.

If our LGBT rights organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, lobbied for such legislation, and for the enforcement of existing provisions made possible by the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, for example, regardless of the expected opposition, a lot of these haters would keep their hatred to themselves; not sully "religion" with their perverse view of Gay people; not use Gay people as fodder for material or any other type of gain; there would be a whole lot less suffering for people who deserve to be treated the same as any other citizen of this country.

When the average person sees that a Bishop Alverez as reported in this article is far more dangerous to the well-being of a society than is the average Gay person; when he is perverse enough to believe (let alone state) that minors can and do invite adults to become sexually involved with them; when the average person comes to see that homophobic clergy are no different than typical hateful thugs with their collars turned around, those clergy will lose credibility and will be finally seen for the dangerous haters that they truly are, and who perversely appeal to the Bible and to God to justify their expressed hatred.

And if they are subject to civil and/or criminal penalties for spreading their slanderous lies, we can expect a much reduced coarsening of this culture, and also enable the acquisition of full and equal civil rights for LGBT people to be much more forthcoming!

When such clergy (and others) can be civilly and/or criminally prosecuted and penalized for their slanderous attacks that can result in suicides, assaults, and murders of Gay people, our society will get that much closer to realizing its boast that we are "the land of the free!"
Share |

No comments: