If the Bible truly calls for gays to be put to death, then don’t public school students have the right to wear t-shirts to class that simply repeats the Scripture? Yes, says faulty thinker Jerry Moore, in perhaps the dumbest argument in favor of “Straight Pride” shirts yet.
When a handful of teens showed up to St. Charles North High School in Illinois wearing “Straight Pride” shirts (“If a man lay with a male as those who lay with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and shall surely be put to death,” was written on the back), they were told by administrators to cross out the offending Biblical passages with marker. They complied, and the next day a different set of students wore homemade “Straight Pride” shirts, sans Bible verses.
But barring kids from wearing shirts with Christ’s alleged teachings on them is an infringement of their religious freedoms, argues Moore, the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications in Chicago.
Three students at the high school wore T-shirts Nov. 8 with “Straight Pride” on the front. The shirts also had the biblical passage Leviticus 20:13 on the back, declaring that people who engage in homosexual activity should be put to death. That’s pretty strong stuff, but it is what the Bible teaches. If these students believe in the Bible, they have every right to promote death for gays.
Which is akin to saying that if students believe some random fairy tale that says Jews — or blacks, or women, or puppy dogs — deserve to be slaughtered, that too is protected speech.
It is not. And Moore winds up his haphazard argument without really concluding one way or another whether Biblical teaching can qualify as prohibited speech.
Is it hate speech? Well, wishing to see someone’s life extinguished isn’t very compassionate. It depends on the students’ motives in conveying this message. But is hate speech protected under the U.S. Constitution? Very much so –– as long as you don’t incite or threaten violence, it’s considered free speech.
Also true. But missing from Moore’s argument is standing precedent that allows students’ First Amendment rights to be infringed if their activities inhibit the normal activities of a school. Saying your classmates deserve to be executed surely qualifies as problematic.