Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

A Welcome, Disappointing Decision

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Pro-Lifers rarely win court cases, so it is very gratifying to win one in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, even in victory, there is disappointment, and a sense that the constitutional rights of pro-life people have been relegated to second-class status.

The case was McCullen v. Coakley, and it arose out of a terrible Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. Pro-lifers were prohibited from entering that zone, which effectively banned any attempt to speak to women seeking abortions (“sidewalk counseling”) completely. However — and this is crucial — abortion clinic staff were permitted to be in the zone and speak to the women who were approaching the clinic.

The Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, found that the law was unconstitutional. However, the Court’s unanimity is actually deceiving — although all nine justices agreed that the law was invalid, the Court was actually split 5 to 4 on the reasoning. And the reasoning of the majority is very troubling.

One of the fundamental principles of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is that the government cannot pass a law that is based on the content of a person’s speech, and that discriminates against one particular point of view. The principle is called “viewpoint neutrality”.  The majority found that the Massachusetts law did not violate the requirement of neutrality, but still found the law unconstitutional because it burdened speech more than was necessary to fulfill the government’s legitimate objectives.

But that reasoning is gravely flawed.  Take it out of the abortion context for a second. Consider the hypothetical case of a law that places a buffer zone around a mine entrance where there is a highly contentious strike taking place. Imagine that the law prohibits striking miners from being in that zone, but allows management employees to be in the zone and speak openly to strike-breaking workers seeking to enter the plant. Can anyone imagine a court upholding such an obviously biased law? Of course not — it would be a clear case of the government taking sides in a strike, and showing favoritism towards one point of view.

The Massachusetts statute is exactly the same, and is clearly not “viewpoint neutral”. It was specifically designed and intended to prosecute and deter only pro-life speakers, while giving pro-abortion speakers free reign to speak and act.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Court, led by the Chief Justice, implausibly concluded that the law was “viewpoint neutral”, because on its face it did not single out pro-life speech. This is absurd — everybody understands very clearly what the goal and effect of this law is.  As Justice Scalia stated in his concurring opinion,

The obvious purpose of the challenged portion of the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act is to “protect” prospective clients of abortion clinics from having to hear abortion-opposing speech on public streets and sidewalks.

In short, although the Court unanimously struck down the law, there is only a minority of Justices who believe that pro-lifers deserve the full protection of the Constitution. This follows a disturbing trend in the Supreme Court, in which abortion distorts the Constitution — indeed, abortion corrupts everything it touches.

Again, to quote Justice Scalia:

Today’s opinion carries forward this Court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents. There is an entirely separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment applicable to speech against abortion.

So, while it’s good that we’ve won a big case, it’s clear that pro-lifers continue to be treated as second-class citizens in our courts.

 

Another Attempt to Silence Pro-Lifers

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

A bill is pending before the Westchester County Board of Legislators that is designed to silence pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics.  It is similar to the bill that was passed by New York City a few years ago, about which I wrote here and here.  The bill hasn’t yet been voted on, but it remains a significant risk.

Here is the statement that I submitted to the Board, at its hearing last night:

I submit this statement in opposition to the proposed legislation concerning access to so-called “reproductive health care facilities”.

First, the proposed changes to the law are unnecessary.  There is no evidence that there is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed by this bill.  According to statistics provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there has been only one arrest in the entire state since 2000 for violations of the State clinic access law, and no criminal convictions. There is no need to strengthen laws that are never used, since there is no problem that needs to be addressed.

The second reason for our opposition to this bill is that  it is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.  It is a established principle of constitutional law that any attempted regulation of speech be content-neutral, and narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.  This is particularly true when the speech occurs on a public sidewalk, which has been described by the Supreme Court as a “public forum” where citizens generally have a First Amendment right to speak and gather together.  This bill fails to satisfy this standard, and creates a significant risk that people would be prosecuted or sued for the mere exercise of their right to free speech and assembly.

This bill is not neutral, because it specifically targets the conduct and speech of those who oppose abortion.  It is also vague and ambiguous, so that persons could not possibly know what kinds of behavior or speech are prohibited.  One of the provisions would make it a crime to “interfere” with the operations of “reproductive health care facilities”.  Yet that term is undefined and utterly subjective in meaning, and would thus chill the free speech rights of those who wish to speak to women seeking to enter those facilities.

Even if one were to ignore the lack of any history of problems at these facilities and assume that there was a “compelling state interest” here, this bill cannot be fairly described as “narrowly tailored”.  The bill would create a zone that goes far beyond any statute that has been approved by the courts.  No law has included such areas as public parking lots and bus stops that are within 200 feet of a facility, and created a large “bubble zone” around the “spaces” — whatever that term means — between those locations and the facility.  There can be no justification for such a broad zone where the free speech rights of citizens will be restricted.

This unnecessary bill is clearly aimed at suppressing speech, because that speech is disfavored by the owners and operators of abortion clinics.  This discriminatory legislation should be rejected.

A Major Victory for Life and for Free Speech

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I have blogged a number of times about Intro 371, the New York City bill that targeted pregnancy centers for unfair and discriminatory regulations, with an aim towards silencing them and putting them out of business.

Pro-lifers from our city, and leaders of national pro-life groups all lobbied very hard to prevent the passage of that bill.  At a public hearing, and in repeated communications with the Council, we warned them that the bill was unconstitutional.  But they didn’t care.  Even when two courts in Maryland struck down similar bills as being unconstitutional, they were undeterred.  Spurred on by the abortion industry and the anti-life ideologues of NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Council heedlessly went forward with the bill, and the mayor imprudently signed it into law.

A lawsuit was filed by several pregnancy centers, challenging the law.  And today, just days before the law was to go into effect, the court issued its ruling — a preliminary injunction, barring the implementation of the law.

The case isn’t over — it still has to be fully litigated.  But in the meantime, this iniquitous law will not go into effect.  This is a great victory for the pro-life cause, and for free speech.

The court accepted all the same constitutional arguments that the pro-lifers presented at the public hearing last fall.  It found that the law was an infringement upon the free speech rights of the centers and their staffs, and that it was also so vague that it created a grave risk of being arbitrarily enforced.

Most importantly, the court utterly rejected the City’s arguments that the speech of the pregnancy centers could be regulated as if it was “commercial speech”, a category of speech that can be subjected to fairly broad regulation by the government.  Instead, the court held that the speech of the centers was to be given the highest degree of protection under the Constitution, and that laws infringing upon their speech could only be valid if they pass muster under the extremely stringent “strict scrutiny” standard — which few laws can survive.

In fact, the court rebuked the City for its position, saying:

Defendant’s second argument — that Plaintiffs engage in commercial speech because they are provided an audience to whom they can espouse their beliefs — is particularly offense to free speech principles… that proposition would permit the Government to inject its own message into virtually all speech designed to advocate a message to more than a single individual and thereby eviscerate the First Amendment’s protections.

Even better, the court called out the New York Civil Liberties Union for their failure to defend the free speech rights of the centers. The court said,

Given the New York Civil Liberties Union’s (“NYCLU’s) usual concern for First Amendment rights, its amicus brief supporting Defendants’ expansive view of the commercial speech doctrine is puzzling.

True, one might expect the NYCLU to be unyielding in the defense of anyone’s First Amendment rights.  But they are in the grips of such an uncompromising pro-abortion ideology that they cannot conceive that the speech of pro-lifers deserves protection.  This is not the first time that their hypocrisy has been put on display, but it may be one of the first times a court took the trouble to note it.

Pro-lifers espouse a counter-cultural message that is sternly disapproved by the elites who deign to govern and advise us (e.g, the editorial board of the New York Times).  Legislatures and courts across the nation have expressed this disapproval by restricting the rights of pro-lifers to speak to women outside of abortion clinics, to give prayerful witness outside those clinics, and to offer alternatives to abortion.  It is a constant battle to defend our rights against these forces.

For once at least — and in New York City of all places! — a court got it right, and has recognized that pro-lifers have the same constitutional rights as any other citizen.

Congratulations to those who fought this bill before the Council, to the fine attorneys at the Alliance Defense Fund and the American Center for Law and Justice who pursued the lawsuit so ably, and to the pregnancy centers that kept up the fight.

I have a friend who likes to recall the story of Gideon from the Book of Judges.  Hopelessly outnumbered by a mighty foe, he trusted the Lord and was victorious.   Yes, indeed, all praise and glory to Him who never fails to comes to the aid of his people in need.

Varia

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • The Holy Father conducted the first-ever world-wide Vigil for All Nascent Human Life.  Here’s an early, unofficial translation of the homily.  And here’s an unofficial translation of the special prayer written by the Holy Father for the Vigil.
  • Opponents of same-sex “marriage” — like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage — have now been labeled as “hate groups” by a prominent advocacy group.  The “sit down and shut up” phase of the debate over marriage continues.  Next will come prosecutions for “hate crimes” and “human rights” violations, based solely on politically-incorrect speech.  Oh, wait — that’s happening already in Mexico.
  • Maggie Gallagher and Robert George respond to having pro-marriage organizations — and traditional Christianity — branded as “hate groups”.
  • The indispensible Kathryn Jean Lopez puts the Holy Father’s condom and sex comments in the context of the importance of marriage and true human sexuality and interviews Fr. Robert Williams and sheds some clear light on the Holy Father’s condom comments.
  • More good news on the stem cell front.  A child has been fully cured from leukemia thanks to treatment by adult stem cells from umbilical cords.  And scientists have “tricked” cells to convert from one kind to another, which may make stem cell research unnecessary.  Reaction from the media:       .
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (and Abortionists) is once again trying to force doctors to refer or perform abortions, under the rubric of “professional ethics”.  Hence the need for a federal comprehensive conscience protection statute.  GOP leaders, are you listening?
  • I’m a Mac, iPod and iTunes user, so it’s nice to know that in return for all the money I’ve given them, the Apple Corporation thinks I’m a bigot, merely because I subscribe to the principles in the Manhattan Declaration.  For a reminder of what’s in this “hate speech” declaration (which is all about defending life, marriage, and religious liberty), go here.  While you’re there, join over 34,000 others in signing the petition protesting Apple’s intolerance.
  • It has become ever more clear that the Administration is failing in its duty to defend the Defense of Marriage Act from attack by same-sex “marriage” advocates.
  • The perfect proof that reproductive medicine treats human life as a commodity:  they’re putting bar codes on IVF embryos.
  • A terrible story about the modern sex slave trade, right here in New York City.  Why is this not a high priority for law enforcement?
  • Interesting how the Times buries a story about how Cardinal Ratzinger tried, as far back as 1988, to streamline the procedures to punish abusive priests.  No room for the story on the front page, where they’ve previously put the “exposes”, although they manage to squeeze in a story about obesity surgery.  It’s not so newsworthy if it’s favorable to the Holy Father, I guess.
  • The Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, publicly rebukes the Catholic governor for his comments that his faith impels him to sign a bill legalizing same-sex “civil unions”.  The governor replies, in classic modern fashion, “I follow my conscience. I think everyone should do that. I think that’s the most important thing to do in life, and my conscience is not kicking me in the shins today.”  He needs a new, authentically Catholic conscience.
  • When the world throws God out the window, there’s no stopping the descent into madness.  A “family law expert” in the UK says that sex offenders should be allowed to work with children, and even adopt or serve as foster parents.  As the Safe Environment Director of the Archdiocese, all I can say is, “over my dead body”.
  • Can You Call it a Hearing if Nobody is Listening?

    Thursday, November 18th, 2010

    On Tuesday, I appeared as a witness at the hearing held by the Women’s Issues Committee of the New York City Council.  The committee was supposed to be taking evidence and evaluating the merits of Intro 371, the unfair and discriminatory bill that would regulate pregnancy resource centers. (For more information about the bill, click here)

    In reality, the “hearing” was little more than a demonstration of what happens when ideological obsession, duplicity, and raw political power intersect.

    The tone for the day was set at the beginning, when the lead sponsor of the bill declared that it was all about “truth in advertising”.  She and other sponsors of the bill went on to slander the centers by falsely alleging that their entire purpose was to mislead pregnant women into believing that they are medical centers, in order to deny them “the full range of reproductive health services.”

    Yet there was no evidence about any false statements in any advertising, and, in fact, neither the Council nor any public agency had ever conducted an inquiry into the content of the centers’ advertising.  There was no evidence that any woman had been misled or harmed in any way by visiting the centers.  There was no evidence that any center had ever held itself out to be a medical facility.  There was no evidence that any of the centers had ever revealed any private information.

    No evidence.  None.

    If this were a courtroom, the case for the bill would have been laughed at and summarily dismissed.

    All that was offered in support of this bill were the bald allegations by the real sponsors of the bill — NARAL, Planned Parenthood, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the hive of radical pro-abortion advocates — about how the centers allegedly misrepresent themselves to be medical facilities.  This was their entire “case”, together with a blindness to the scientific and clinical evidence of negative side effects of abortion (including an increased risk of breast cancer, and post-abortion trauma), and imaginary allegations of deception (including the laughable statement by a NYCLU staff member that the mere name of one of the centers, “EMC”, sounded to her like a medical office).  Underlying it all was the bizarre attitude by the sponsors that the only way to prevent abuses that have never occurred is to drag private citizens under the power of government regulation.

    To give you an idea of the absurdity of the hearing, the first witnesses were from two New York City Government agencies.  They gave official support to the bill, even though neither agency had regulatory authority over the centers, neither had ever conducted an investigation into the centers or had received any complaints about them, and they openly professed ignorance about what the centers did.  In fact, the representative of the Health Department was so woefully unprepared that she didn’t even know how many abortions take place in New York City every year.  (Psst.  Health Department?  It’s about 89,000.  All you have to do is look at the report your own department puts out.  You can do it — it’s not that hard.)

    Here’s another indication of the ideological blindness of the committee, and their lack of genuine concern for women’s health.  I testified about the provisions of the bill that would require the centers to keep client information confidential.  This provision would prevent the centers from notifying the authorities if they had reason to believe that a teenager had been sexually abused or raped.  The reaction by the sponsors when they learned that their bill would shield rapists and child abusers?  Silence.  After all, why let facts get in the way of ideology and lust for power?

    There were some bright spots in the hearing.  Many pro-lifers sat for hours in a hot, crowded room to give witness to the wonderful work being done by these centers.  One Councilmember, Daniel Halloran, was prepared for the hearing and asked intelligent, searching and even-handed questions.  Stalwart defenders of life like Chris Slattery, Chris Bell, and Teresa Bonapartis put the lie to the Council’s prejudices against the centers and demonstrated what true concern for women was like.  Excellent lawyers from national organizations, like the American Center for Law and Justice, gave learned testimony about how the bill would violate the free speech rights of the centers and their staffs.

    Not that the Committee members cared about our side of the bill.  In most cases, they didn’t even bother to disguise their disinterest and disdain for the pro-life witnesses, rudely chatting among themselves and with staff instead of paying attention.  And they called it a “hearing”.

    The Committee will now take the bill under consideration, and may vote on it as early as this December, with action by the full Council to follow.  All citizens who care about free speech and the defense of life should contact the Council to let them know what they think of this prejudiced, ideological power-grab of a bill.

    An Attack on Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

    Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

    A bill has been introduced in the New York City Council (Intro. 371) that singles out pregnancy resource centers for harsh and discriminatory regulation.

    The targets of this bill include Catholic Charities and a number of crisis pregnancy centers, all of which help pregnant women in need. These agencies offer services to poor expectant mothers who want help in having their baby. They provide spiritual, material and emotional support, and both before and after the babies are born. All provide these services completely free of charge — and most receive no federal, state, or city tax dollars to support their work.

    Here are some of the lowlights of this terrible bill:

  • This bill would violate constitutional guarantees of free speech by forcing these agencies to post signs and change the wording of their advertisements to describe what services they don’t provide (referrals for abortion and contraception).
  • If the City government isn’t satisfied with the wording of these signs, ads and websites, the pregnancy centers can receive heavy fines (up to $2,500), they can be closed down by the police, and their staff can go to jail for six months.
  • The confidentiality provisions of the bill are written in a way that would prevent pregnancy center staff from reporting child abuse — from even notifying a pregnant teen’s parents that she was sexually abused.
  • No other business or organization in the City has to face such unfair regulations.
  • No other organization can be closed down, or have their staff thrown in jail, merely for failing to post signs.
  • There are far more abortion clinics in the City than pregnancy centers, yet none of them would be required to post signs or advertise the services that they don’t provide — like referrals for adoption, help in nurturing the baby to birth, and support to mothers with newborns.
  • This bill is the product of a national campaign by abortion advocates to shut down pro-life organizations that help pregnant women who are seeking alternatives to abortion. These powerful and influential pro-abortion organizations are enlisting the City Council to show favoritism to their position on abortion, and to silence those who disagree.
  • Make no mistake about it. The only reason that the City Council is considering this bill is that they disapprove of what pro-lifers are saying and doing — opposing abortions.

    A hearing was held today before the Women’s Issues Committee of the City Council. Many pro-life groups gave testimony. I testified too, and I’ll have more to say about the hearing in my next post.

    If you’d like more information about the bill, click here.  If you’d like to find out who your City Council representative is, to let them know what you think about this bill, click here.

    Varia

    Friday, October 29th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts:

  • The headline says it all: “Pope says bishops must educate faithful to vote against abortion”.  The Holy Father went on to describe legalized abortion as a betrayal of democracy at its foundation.  Spread this word far and wide.
  • Watch this great new video from CatholicVote.org — “We are the Catholic Vote“.
  • A short overview of the recent Princeton conference, at which pro-life and “pro-choice” philosophers met.  For a flavor of what was said, see this excellent piece on the “moral status of the fetus” from Catholic philosopher John Finnis.
  • Rather than make a decision to stop a dangerous practice, the Iowa medical board has deferred decision on the so-called “Telemed” abortions, where the only contact a woman has with a doctor prior to being given the abortion drug is a video hookup.  Just keep repeating to yourself: “it’s all about women’s health”.
  • A panel of our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers has let stand a resolution by City Council of San Francisco that denounced Church teaching on homsexuality as “hateful”, “insulting”, and “discriminatory” and implicitly threatened to de-fund Catholic charitable agencies unless they defy Church teaching.  Funny how the Establishment Clause doesn’t seem to apply in the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals, which seems to be channeling Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer.  Meanwhile, another Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Ruler has decided that the First Amendment doesn’t apply in Ohio, by refusing to stop the Ohio Election Commission’s effort to suppress the speech of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC.
  • A valuable and important point by Wesley Smith about the ineffectiveness of graphic images in advocacy, including pictures of aborted children.  I whole-heartedly agree.
  • Someone has apparently reminded the President that our human rights come from God, and so he has begun to quote the Declaration of Independence correctly.
  • Meanwhile, the President says that his position on same-sex “marriage” is “evolving” (guess in which direction?).  Not surprising, since he openly stated he was in favor of re-defining marriage back when he was an obscure politician in Illinois.
  • The Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood, is suing Montana to force the state to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives — for kids.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review reports on the Minnesota Democratic Party’s side of the story about that anti-Catholic ad from Minnesota.  It’s not a very convincing excuse.  They meant to attack an evangelical preacher who’s running for office — by printing a picture of a guy in a Roman collar.  Oh, so basically you didn’t mean to unfairly attack us, because you were busy unfairly attacking another clergyman.  Thanks.
  • Okaaaaaay.  Has the Times become the Onion?  Exhibit One: Here’s what they consider to be such a significant political trend that it’s worthy of attention one week before Election Day:  the role of transgendered candidates.  Exhibit Two: A “fit to print” op-ed by two “social scientists” in the Times explains that conservative political views stem from a feeling of disgust of germs.  Their “proof”?  People who stand near disinfectant dispensers are more likely to express conservative views.  You just can’t make this stuff up.
  • We talk a lot about politics, these days, but this puts it all in perspective — an awesome video of the ordination of priests in Milwaukee earlier this year.
  • Varia

    Saturday, October 16th, 2010

    Pretty much every morning of the work week, I send out to my friends and contacts an email entitled “Varia”.  It’s basically a morning briefing, based on my review of what’s going on in the world that affects the Culture of Life.   It usually consists of a link to an article or blog, plus a pithy comment or two by me.

    I thought it might be handy to occasionally post here the highlights of those daily mailings.

  • The appalling New York City Council, having solved all problems facing the City, has now turned their attention to singling out crisis pregnancy centers for burdensome regulations — in other words, acting at the behest of the abortion industry to intimidate a bunch of volunteers who help pregnant women.  Here’s the story and an excellent critique.
  • Msgr. Charles Pope of Washington points out that, according to a recent survey, only 30% of Catholics who attend Mass regularly agree that pre-marital sex is always morally wrong (only 14% of all Catholics believe that). The numbers for our Protestant brethren are much better.  We have a lot of work to do.
  • When all else fails, the powers-that-be resort to censoring pro-life views, in this case an Ohio elections commission ordering the Susan B. Anthony List to take down billboards because the incumbent Congressman thinks they’re false.  Funny, I thought the First Amendment applied to Ohio.
  • Interesting polling numbers about religious people and their political preferences in the upcoming elections.  Strong trend towards the GOP among Catholics, especially among churchgoers. Protestant churchgoers trend GOP even more strongly.
  • From Australia, a blood-chilling story about babies who survive late-term abortions but are being left on shelves to die.  Now, explain to me again how we are any more civilized than the ancients who exposed or sacrificed unwanted children?
  • Freedom of conscience is frequently under severe attack in Europe, most recently in an attempt to eliminate the right of physicians and hospitals to refuse to participate in abortions. Fortunately, pro-lifers held firm and the Council of Europe instead re-affirmed the right to conscience.
  • I decline to link to the awful Slate.com, but I couldn’t resist this. They asked a number of women to define who gets to be called a “feminist”. Here’s what director and writer Nora Ephron said: “I know that I’m supposed to write 500 words on this subject, but it seems much simpler: You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.” Yes, indeed, that pretty much says it all about the state of modern “feminism”.
  • (If anyone is interested in receiving the daily version of Varia, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll add you to the list).

    The Ugly Face of the Future

    Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

    I’m not much for watching beauty pageants. My wife is beautiful, talented and congenial enough for me.

    But I can’t help but be interested in what happened at the Miss USA pageant the other day. You may have seen the report in the media. Miss California was apparently a finalist in the competition, and the time came for her to answer a question from the judges. Usually, I think this consists of soft-ball questions and bland answers about world peace and helping others. This time, though, Miss California was asked a pointed question about her opinion on same-sex “marriage”.

    The young lady gave what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary answer. After affirming how grateful she was for the liberty we enjoy in the United States to have a diversity of opinion, she went on to say that in her view, based on the way she was raised, marriage was between a man and a woman. She even offered a “no offense” apology in advance for anyone who disagreed with her. You would think that would be the end of the matter, and we’d move on to the baton-twirling competition, or some such thing.

    Well, not in the New World. Apparently this is now a controversial opinion, and poor Miss California has been publicly derided and pilloried for giving voice to a view that everyone would have accepted implicitly as recently as ten years ago. In fact, according to some commentators, it led to her losing the pageant.

    You might think this was a trivial moment, and not worth much attention. But it is actually very important, because it reveals the face of the future, and it’s not as pretty as Miss California.

    One of the tactics of the same-sex “marriage” movement is to stigmatize everyone who disagrees with them, to brand them as bigots, and to silence their voices by intimidation. This is not an exaggeration. After the passage of Prop 8 in California, the names and home addresses of donors to that campaign to preserve the definition of marriage were posted on the Internet, boycotts were arranged of businesses owned by donors or that employed donors, and some donors reported receiving threats and intimidating communications. Think about that for a second — you give some money to a cause you believe in, and next thing you know your personal information is posted online and you’re a target. Tolerance? Diversity? Hah.

    The goal of that movement is not to tolerate or to “celebrate diversity”, but to make same-sex “marriage” opponents sit down and shut up.

    All for committing what has now become a “thought crime”, namely to favor the authentic definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

    Make no mistake about it. A “soft persecution” is coming. Institutions and individuals that support real marriage will be denied access to government programs, licenses and contracts, and professional’s ability to practice their avocations will be limited or denied, based on their opinions on same-sex “marriage”. We will be social outcasts, pariahs because of our religious beliefs.

    Think I’m exaggerating? Then listen to what Frank Rich wrote the other day in an op-ed in the Times, the arbiter of acceptable opinion among our ruling elite: “It is justice, not a storm, that is gathering. Only those who have spread the poisons of bigotry and fear have any reason to be afraid.”

    He’s talking about us. And that’s not the voice of reasoned discourse or civil disagreement. That’s the voice of thuggery.

    Miss California has already seen the face of the future. More of us will, and soon.

    Trashing the First Amendment

    Friday, April 3rd, 2009

    On April 2, the New York City Council passed Intro. 826-A, a bill that trashes the natural human rights to free speech and peaceful assembly that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Basically, the supporters of the bill dressed it up in lies and propaganda, and did the bidding of the abortionists to protect their businesses.

    I’ve written about this bill before, and I don’t want to belabor the details too much. Intro. 826 contains vague and uncertain terms – like “harass” and “interfere” – that are deliberately left undefined and unclear. This would chill the free speech rights of pro-lifers who try to give information to women heading into abortion clinics, a right that is absolutely protected under the Constitution. We met with the staff of the City Council and tried to impress this upon them but they ignored us.

    This bill is all about suppressing free speech, simply because powerful pro-abortion interest groups and profitable abortion clinics don’t like that speech. Sure, the rhetoric outside of abortion clinics can be unruly and even unpleasant. But the framers of our Constitution understood that the cost of democracy is the protection of all speech, even if those opinions are unpopular or disfavored by the powerful and rich. The City Council yesterday ignored this fundamental principle.

    At the Council meeting, several of the members unintentionally tipped their hand. They bemoaned the fact that “protestors” are still outside of abortion clinics. That’s the real aim of the bill – not to stop harassment or intimidation, which is already a violation of city, state and federal law.

    In her celebratory press conference, the Speaker of the Council, Christine Quinn posed an example of how the bill would work. She gave the hypothetical case of a woman who comes to the clinic, but turns away solely because there is a “protest” outside of it, even though nobody spoke to her, gave her anything, or did anything tangible to “harass” her. The Speaker said that in that case, the “protestors” would be arrested under this law.

    That is absurd on its face. There is no way that this behavior could possibly be criminal – any prosecution would be easily dismissed as a violation of the Constitution. But it tells you what’s going on here. A significant public official of the City of New York is so ignorant of – or so indifferent to – the basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans under our Constitution that she wants to suppress a protest because she does not like its content.

    Several Council members – eight of them – voted against this bill. They are to be applauded. The other thirty-nine who voted for it are to be deplored.

    Standing prominently in the Council chamber is a statue of Thomas Jefferson. The Council members who supported Intro. 826-A failed to see the tragedy of their vote to trash the First Amendment, while sitting in the shadow of the great defender of the “inalienable rights” of all.

    Shame on them.