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AFA, Allies Still Don’t Understand “Hate Crimes”

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The American “Family” Association’s all sorts of angry over a recent Oakland, California, “hate crime” case. A group of black Christian women are facing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after distributing a “pro-family” pamphlet for their group, Good News Employee Association.

The pamphlet in question described the GNEA as “a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values”. The women’s coworkers balked at the language and insisted the cease and desist distribution of the flyer.

The women, however, insist they were simply responding to some of their more gay-friendly friends. Oakland government officials, however, claim they were helping perpetuate discrimination. Now, both sides are in court duking it out.

Not surprising, AFA and their conservative allies are stirring the shit.

AFA’s website insists the Oakland case – and the federal hate crime law – will curtail religion freedom. Thus, they’ve asked their readers to sign a petition urging Congress to reject the law:

We are looking for one million Americans willing to take a stand and not allow a small group of homosexual activists to take away our freedoms. Can we count on you? Click on the link below to sign our Petition to Congress in Defense of Religious Freedom.

The petition in question reads:

To members of Congress. I strongly urge you to vote against the “hate crimes” bill (H.R.1592 and S.1105). I will not step aside and let a small group of homosexual activists take away my freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

First of all, honey, we’re not such a small group – we’re a significant portion of the American population. Second of all, no one’s asking you to quit spouting your bullshit, just don’t incite hate against another group. You’re all good “Christians,” isn’t that what your “Lord and Savior” would want?

Meanwhile, conservative journo George Will claims the Oakland case represents everything that’s wrong with “progressive” politics:

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

The treatment of GNEA illustrates one technique by which America’s growing ranks of self-appointed speech police expand their reach: They wait until groups they disagree with, such as GNEA, are provoked to respond to them in public debates, then they persecute them for annoying those to whom they are responding.

If GNEA claimed it felt “excluded” by advocacy of the gay rights agenda, would that advocacy have been suppressed? Of course not — although GNEA’s members could plausibly argue that the city’s speech police have created a “hostile workplace environment” against them.

We can’t believe we’re saying this, but we almost, sort of, kind of agree with them. Everyone should be allowed to voice their opinions. These women should be allowed to distribute their silly little flier. That said, however, right-leaning organizations must make sure not to use their so-called “religious freedom” to alienate others. The same goes for the left. There must be more of a dialogue between sides.

Does this mean hate crime laws should be tossed out the window? Of course not. Does it mean they need to be curtailed to make room for “religious freedom”. Again, no. That doesn’t mean, however, that people should jump the gun and call every bit of Biblical madness a “hate crime”. Also, these people should keep in mind that black people have long been protected under hate crime laws, yet the KKK still exists. Not the most tasteful example, no, but still comparable. If the government’s not going to squash an unapologetically racist organization for calling black people beasts or monkeys or whatever it is they say, why would they government go after the AFA and their allies?

In fact, it seems to us our government has more interest in pleasing the Christian right than helping the homos. But the AFA would rather view themselves as the minority. It’s easier to get signatures that way.

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Jun 26, 2007
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

  • 2 Comments
    • vince
      vince

      If the Christian activists (as if they even needed activism and advocacy for their cause) were to acknowledge their position in society and stop pretending to be a minority, then how could they ever continue to feel like martyrs? Anyway…

      I think one issue that a lot of people tend to gloss over (if they even acknowledge it at all) is people equating the “free speech in question” on both sides. Like with what Will talks about, he equates “Happy Coming Out Day” with “Natural Family” and such. The problem with this is that the former bears no malice while the latter drips with marginalizing rhetoric (with its obvious implication of anything other than a man+woman=children family equation being unnatural).

      Also, I don’t really get how Oakland officials can call this anything close to a hate crime, nor do I understand why Christians have convinced themselves that the hate crimes bill will strip them of their ability to say what they want. SCOTUS has a long-standing principle when it comes to enforcement of hate crimes laws that says an increased punishment for hate crimes can only be applied to actions, not speech (can’t remember the cite for the decision at the moment). So, to me, it feels like “the left” is reaching a bit too far with this case and “the right” is playing Chicken Little.

      Jun 26, 2007 at 1:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • thatguyfromboston
      thatguyfromboston

      What I think might be unclear is if AFA might be overstating their case to begin with. I sincerely doubt that the Oakland officials are in fact calling it hate speech. They are probably just asking people to keep the nastiness of bigotry out of the workplace. So, of course AFA and the righties can come in and claim discrimination and how dreadfully they are being persecuted. Like it’s Rome 187 AD all over again.

      Jun 26, 2007 at 1:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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