Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kennedy cramming hate crimes into defense bill

'Shameless attempt to push homosexual agenda ... by exploiting soldiers'

Sen. Edward Kennedy's "hate crimes" plan - feared by Christian leaders as a way to censor biblical condemnations of homosexuality - has been proposed as an amendment to a defense spending bill, a maneuver opponents are calling "shameless" and "manipulative." The Kennedy plan, which earlier was introduced as separate legislation, would classify gender and sexual orientation as specially protected classes of people under federal law. Opponents say it would require law enforcement personnel to become "thought police" to determine whether a crime already addressed by existing law could be prosecuted under an enhanced standard of "hate crime."

The White House already has suggested the proposal is unneeded and a veto would be in order if it is approved. But Kennedy has proposed inserting it into the defense appropriations plan, which Bush wants to pass. "The maneuver is one clearly calculated to put the president in the position of ending up vetoing a defense appropriation," Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel told WND.

Joe Glover of the Family Policy Network said the move is "shockingly manipulative." "It is a shameless attempt to push the homosexual agenda on the American people by exploiting American soldiers who are currently in harm's way around the world," he said.

Many dismiss the idea Christian pastors and others who oppose homosexual behavior on biblical grounds would end up being punished for their beliefs and thoughts, including the ACLU. The organization issued a statement endorsing the plan to amend the defense spending bill to include the hate crimes legislation. "The serious problem of crime directed at members of society because of their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability merits legislative action," the ACLU said. And the ACLU noted a clause protecting "free speech" in the proposal makes it clear it would be applied only to actual crimes, not thoughts.

However, WND columnist Janet Folger wrote the idea of arresting people for stating their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong is no longer something that "may" happen in the future. "Here's the Cliff Notes of what so called 'hate crime' legislation has already done IN AMERICA," she wrote. "This is no longer up for debate. Here are the facts."

* Madison, Wisconsin. David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a "hate crime" for sharing his testimony with a homosexual at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin conducted by a lesbian.

* St. Petersburg, Florida. Five Christians including two pastors were arrested at a homosexual rally for stepping onto the public sidewalk instead staying caged in their officially designated "free speech zone."

* Elmira, New York. The Elmira police arrested seven Christians for praying in a public park where a homosexual festival was getting started.

* Crystal Lake, Illinois. Two 16 year old girls are facing felony "hate crime" charges for the content of their flyers.

* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Linda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk.

Folger said the testimony from the grandmothers can be seen and heard at the Stop Hate Crimes Now website. "Just how many cases do we need to cite before America stands up and stops the bill that will criminalize Christianity?" she asked. "It will criminalize not just those willing to speak the truth and spread the Gospel in the public square, but those pastors, authors, radio hosts and anyone who 'counsels, commands, induces or procures [the commission of a 'hate crime']'," she said.

Rev. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, said the plan will "punish Christians for preaching certain biblical principles and lead to pastors being jailed in violation of their First Amendment rights as we have already witnessed in Europe." A pastor in Europe already has served a prison term for preaching that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

Scarborough said it is significant that the proposal to add the plan as an amendment "will bypass the Senate committee process, thereby denying significant debate on the legislation." "If this bill passes, a pastor who preaches about homosexuality being sin could be prosecuted if someone who has heard his message commits a crime against a homosexual. The implications for conservative biblical pastors who have broadcast ministries are staggering. We cannot allow Christians to be dragged into court for simply fulfilling their biblical mandate of preaching the gospel," said Scarborough, a Southern Baptist pastor who now is participating in a "70 Weeks to Save America" campaign. "It is clear the enemies of the cross are wickedly shrewd," said Rusty Lee Thomas, of Elijah Ministries.

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy for the Family Research Council, said even with "speech protections" there are grave dangers. "We've seen it in states, with the Philadelphia 11, where they used ethnic intimidation laws. Intimidation is a broad term, it does not require any act of violence and intimidation is included in the definition of hate crime," he told WND. "What we see and what we've seen repeatedly, when a crime occurs, the homosexual activists will inevitably blame it on the speech of people like us who oppose homosexual behavior," he said.

Sprigg cited the recent murder of a homosexual in California. Witnesses said the attackers were speaking Russian, so immediately nearby Slavic Christian churches came under suspicion, he said.


A very "incorrect gathering

Leftists are the intolerant Puritans these days

Echoing H.L. Mencken, humorist P.J. O'Rourke once quipped that conservatives are a group of stiff-collared puritans with a "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having fun." He should have joined me at the recent fifth annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms summer gala hosted by a right-leaning Colorado think tank, the Independence Institute, at a gun club in Kiowa, Colo.

This year's theme was "Stop the Growth of the Nanny State"--but it might as well have been "Live Free or Die Hard." Every activity seemed designed to annoy Hillary Clinton. There was a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order. During the morning hours, we carried nine-pound rifles through the woods, shooting pellets at clay pigeons flung into the air. By 10 a.m. the park was alive with the continuous claps of gunfire and hollering.

"Ahh, don't you love the sound of freedom?" exalted Jon Caldara, the president of the institute. This was a family affair, with many gun- toting children and women participating. The "girly man" of the group, I managed to hit all of two clay pigeons the entire morning--and I didn't so much break them into pieces as inflict minor wounds. When Mr. Caldara introduced me as the lunch speaker, he said: "Moore is reportedly with the Wall Street Journal editorial page, but after watching him shoot a gun today, I wonder if it isn't the New York Times." I live in the nation's capital, where guns are illegal--and so the closest I've come to a firearm was the time I was mugged walking home from work in 1989.

I was equally out of my element in 1994 when, working for the Republicans in Congress, I found myself in rural Georgia trying to rally voters. Encircled by a boisterous crowd of gun enthusiasts, most of them dressed in military fatigues and holding their rifles at the ready position as I electioneered, I ended my rally-the-troops talk: "And that is why we have to take over the House of Representatives in 1994." One middle-age woman held her gun over her head, nudged herself to the front of the crowd, and in a deep Southern drawl asked: "Son, do you mean by force?" No, I didn't. Nice idea though.

Many of the folks at the institute's, um, policy forum had come from all over the state to have a good time, sure, but they also had a deeper motivation: to stick their tongues out, figuratively, at the tyrant politicians in Washington and Denver who keep enacting rules about how they should run their lives. These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don't smoke, don't shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms--and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes. One participant was incensed that Denver now has a law requiring that every dog be neutered unless the owner gets a government permit allowing the animal to reproduce. On the left even sex is becoming taboo.

Then there are the more mundane rules. There was a discussion over lunch at my picnic table about how Congress is regulating nearly every basic household appliance--refrigerators, washers and dryers, toilets, hair dryers, shower heads, lawnmowers--to make sure that we are not, God forbid, wasting water or energy. A woman told me that she is stocking up on cartons of incandescent light bulbs, because soon it will be illegal to buy them. (The poor lady insisted on remaining anonymous so that the light-bulb police don't come to search her home.)

The buzzword on the left nowadays is "tolerance" for those with different lifestyles--like cross-dressers--but almost everything that these folks want to do, liberals won't tolerate. One smoker lamented that if "gays were discriminated against today the way smokers are, there would be an uproar." Gun owners have reason to be fearful too. In a recent blog interview on, John Edwards of North Carolina proclaimed that health care, child care, a livable wage and a clean environment are "rights," but owning a gun is a "privilege." The men and women who gathered in Kiowa would like to send him a copy of the Constitution.

I'm not a smoker or a gun owner, and not much of a drinker, other than at Margarita parties. But, as Mae West once cracked, "Sometimes I don't drink so the next day I can remember having fun." The gathering in Kiowa was pure joy--and I suspect that if liberals would loosen their puritan collars and start showing real tolerance of conservative "alternative lifestyles," they'd be having more fun too.


The virtue of intolerance

The notion of tolerance has the connotation of holding the moral high ground, of being an act of virtue that needs no explanation and no substantiation, of requiring no insight into the context of that which is being tolerated. The popular view seems to be that tolerance is unarguably a good thing - the implication being that to be intolerant is to be a tyrant.

The notion of tolerance comes in a package deal bundled with other corrupted concepts like diversity, multiculturalism, extremism, moral complexities, subjectivist grayness, etc. The problem with all of these is that their essential defining characteristics are removed from any context that make them meaningful. For example, "extremism" or to be an "extremist" is de facto an undesirable quality; its essential characteristic of holding one position to the utter exclusion of the other is divorced from the context of what the positions actually entail and why would that exclusive position be wrong.

However, the concept of tolerance suffers from an added unique distortion. Not only is the concept usually divorced from any particular context and is enshrined as an unquestioning companion of benevolence, tolerance is always used in the acquiescence of the bad and in compromise of the good.

Notice how the good, the true, or the rational never requires toleration, it is only the opposite of these that do. No one ever tolerates the good while simultaneously identifying it as the good. However, the contradiction implied in the phrase "tolerating the good" escapes most people.

When one is asked to "tolerate differences of opinion" or "diversity" one is implicitly branding the differences of opinion and diversity as bad. This not only corrupts the meaning of the concept "tolerance" by misusing it but also paints a broad brush over the concepts of diversity and opinion. If by rational and objective judgment, the opinions are valid and the diversity of people beneficial, then the question of tolerance simply does not arise. With regard to the good that is objectively identified, there is (and properly cannot be) any need for tolerance.

However, when a racist spouts hatred, I have the moral high ground in not tolerating his views and explicitly condemning him for it. To tolerate racist views is to betray your commitment to reason and justice. To tolerate evil is to shortchange on your commitment to the good. Ask yourself why would you need to ever tolerate something that was good and rational anyway? Then, why are you asked to tolerate the irrational, the untrue, the dishonest, and the evil? What virtue lies in tolerating these, and by what standard is it a virtue?

A virtue is that which you do to gain and keep your values. If you hold that the defense of your values (the act of keeping and protecting your values) is your moral obligation, then the condemnation and refusal to tolerate those that go against your values or directly threaten your values is merely a corollary of the same moral obligation. Intolerance is then a virtue when practiced in safeguarding your values.

Intolerance does not mean resorting to violence or the violation of rights but a clear and firm statement of denunciation, a condemnation of the immoral action or speech, a refusal to sanction and endorse, and a commitment to not cooperate.


Australia: Judge hostile to enemies of free speech at a supposed university

JUDGES serve up curly questions in court and let slip withering remarks for all manner of reasons. They may be deadly serious - or playing devil's advocate. They may be toying with an argument soon to be tossed aside like an unloved teddybear. They may be indulging the harmless sport of barrister-baiting. Only a reckless litigant would mistake an encouraging line in judicial banter with a decision in the case.

Even so, John Hookham and Gary MacLennan - the two senior lecturers in film suspended by the Queensland University of Technology - might reasonably take heart from what Jeffrey Spender had to say last week. Spender is the Federal Court judge who is to decide their case against QUT. They say the university behaved unfairly in suspending them for six months without pay. QUT had brought disciplinary charges against them after they went public, in the pages of the HES, with their campaign against the PhD reality TV-style project formerly known as Laughing at the Disabled. (Noonan says his project seeks to give the disabled a voice through comedy and studies the shifting line between laughing at and laughing with figures in contemporary humour. QUT says the campaign against Noonan and his work broke the rules of civil academic debate.)

Last week's hearing in Brisbane was just an interlocutary affair - the trial itself won't be heard until October - but Spender quickly got into a line of commentary that made QUT's counsel Walter Sofronoff understandably anxious. Here are some choice exchanges (with editing for brevity and some background in brackets).

Sofronoff: The (PhD) student, (Michael) Noonan, put up a piece of preliminary work for confirmation by his supervisors for academic comment and criticism.

Spender: Yes.

Sofronoff: Thereupon an attack ...

Spender: He received criticism that he didn't particularly like.

Sofronoff: No, your Honour. Not only was there criticism of his work, about which one can't complain, but there was a personal attack on him.

Spender: And what was the personal attack?

Sofronoff: There are a number.

Spender: The first count seems to be the personal attack on Noonan which consists in the statement (allegedly made by MacLennan, who has a son with a disability) "Thank God my son doesn't have to meet you" or words to that effect.

Sofronoff: Quite, your Honour. At an academic debate, (that statement was) made by a student's superior when the student is presenting academic work.

Spender: Yes, when the student is presenting a doctoral thesis entitled Laughing at the Disabled.

Sofronoff: Your Honour hasn't seen (the thesis film clips shown by Noonan).

Spender: No, neither did the (QUT) committee (which upheld disciplinary charges against Hookham and MacLennan).

Spender went on to note that Noonan had said MacLennan's statement "made him feel like a paedophile."

Sofronoff: Yes.

Spender: I would have thought that - at least in the real world - there's not a very great deal of difference between laughing at the disabled and abusing children.

Sofronoff: Your Honour, I wouldn't disagree with what you've just said. The question is, at the end of the day, whether Hookham and MacLennan have been dealt with rightly or not and your Honour is simply in no position this morning to make adverse comments about our case in the way that your Honour is doing.

Spender: Well, I am saying this because I want to convey to all the parties that I regard this as a very, very important case dealing with the nature of a university and what a university is - or ought to be - all about, and that there seems to me to be a terrible inherent tension between the claim that Noonan and his supervisors are entitled - consistently with the idea of a university - to embark upon a thesis of this kind and of this nature and that that task is not in breach of one of the five cardinal ethical principles that is to be derived from the Public Affairs Act, or whatever it is in section eight of the (QUT) code of conduct - respect for persons.

Sofronoff: But why does your Honour address me upon the assumption that anything Noonan did involved disrespect for any person?

Spender: Because that is what the exception taken by these two gentlemen (Hookham and MacLennan) was.

Sofronoff: I know, your Honour, but I have seen (Noonan's film clips) and your Honour hasn't. And your Honour is, with all due respect, not in a position to be making criticisms of the kind that your Honour is making now about either Noonan's work or about the attitude of the university. This is an interlocutory hearing and your Honour knows very little about the case at this stage.

Spender: Yes. As I said when I started speaking, I'm making these statements to give some impression of my attitude and what I regard as the important issues in this case to the parties in the hope that there might at least be a sensible resolution of this dispute before the final hearing. If that falls on infertile ground, so be it. But I don't want my concerns, uninformed as they are in the fullest, to be not conveyed to the parties.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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