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Category Archives: Free Speech

All Dissenting Voices Must Be Silenced: SSM Erodes Free Speech

In a fiery article featured on Breitbart, John Nolte pens a loaded opinion piece, that comments on the recent developments in one of the infamous “wedding cake” episodes. Aaron and Melissa Klein have been not only unjustly fined for invoking their religious rights, but they have been ordered to remain silent after trying to speak up about the discrimination they have faced from the state, and from the proponents of “tolerance” - the same-sex marriage agenda:

ThinkstockPhotos-517523279A judge in Oregon has issued a gag order denying two Christian bakery owners from speaking out against same sex marriage.

“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” [Administrative Law Judge Alan] Avakian wrote.

The gag order is meant to stop Aaron and Melissa Klein from publicly speaking out about their desire to not bake cakes for same sex weddings. The State’s order came after the Kleins were interviewed by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, and after the State fined the Kleins $135,000 for “emotional damages” incurred by a lesbian couple after the Kleins refused to bake their wedding cake.

Towards the end of the article, John Nolte gives a terse summary of how quickly religious rights and free speech have been eroded and slashed with the onset of the same-sex marriage movement. Consider their arguments through the years:

1995: We don’t want marriage, just civil unions.

2005: Our marriage won’t affect your rights.

2014: Bake me a cake, or else.

2015: Your opinion against same sex marriage is illegal.

The same-sex marriage agenda may believe they have scored a victory, but Americans don’t take being tread on lightly. We expect these types of attacks against American principles will awaken the silent majority to demand action protecting their rights.

A Warning of What is Yet to Come

Over the past few months, there have been several examples across the country of discrimination against individuals who hold Christian beliefs. These cases stem from same-sex marriage activists, some of whom unleash harsh and uncompromising attacks against individuals who in good conscience, cannot support same-sex marriage ceremonies due to their religious beliefs.

Unfortunately, as Russell Shaw from Aleteia opines, these attacks are only a preview of the challenges that traditional marriage supporters will face, particularly those who are practicing Christians:

ThinkstockPhotos-78314966The persecution of the Catholic Church and other morally conservative religious bodies has begun in the United States. As predicted, it isn’t—thank God—bloody persecution like the persecution of Christians in many countries. But it’s real persecution and likely to get worse.

This new persecution currently has two prongs.

One consists of pressuring individual religious believers to cooperate with public policies inimical to faith. The other prong is pressure targeted at religious groups and institutions to adapt their programs to the promotion of values hostile to the sponsors’ moral convictions.

When and if the Supreme Court announces its discovery of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it will be taking a giant step in both directions and paving the way for more. As we saw in Indiana earlier this year, efforts to protect the right of conscientious objection to the radical redefinition of marriage will come under even fiercer assault.

Shaw puts forth Archbishop Chaput’s argument that the reason we are facing such a devastating attack on freedoms and rights is due to a lack of a “moral consensus”:

In a talk several weeks ago to seminarians of his archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia pointed to the driving force that lies behind the new  persecution—a radical collapse of moral consensus, reflected in a disastrous breakdown of public moral discourse.

“The biggest problem we face as a culture,” Archbishop Chaput said, “isn’t gay marriage or global warming. It’s not abortion funding or the federal debt….The deeper problem, the one that’s crippling us, is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning….Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.”

Source and quotes via Aleteia.

A New Level of Intolerance in Canada

We are all too familiar with the reality of how anyone who does not wish to participate in celebration of a same-sex ‘wedding’ – whether they be florists, bakers, photographers, inn keepers or what-have-you – are targeted by the LGBT community. Also, they are increasingly targeted by government officials for harassment and punishment, sometimes under threat of losing all their personal assets. The message has been that the law must force everyone to participate in the “celebration” even if it violates a business owner’s deeply held beliefs. Now comes word from Canada – which has been dealing with the consequences of redefining marriage for over a decade – that it’s not even enough for a business owner merely to participate in the celebration.

ThinkstockPhotos-471991807Steve Weatherbe from LifeSite News wrote:

Nicole White and Pam Renouf liked the service they got from Esau Jardon of Today’s Jewellers in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, who took their deposit and proceeded to design and build them two engagement rings. They even recommended the store to friends.

But by the time one friend went there, the Mexican-born Jardon had put up a sign in his shop window marking Mother’s Day—and his strong, traditional Christian beliefs: “The Sanctity of Marriage IS UNDER ATTACK; Help Keep Marriage Between Man & Woman,” it read.

In redefining marriage, Canada has opened up private citizens to serious discrimination for their own personal beliefs, marking the end of freedom of speech:

Referring to recent decisions by courts and human rights tribunals against Christian vendors who refused to serve homosexuals, Dreher (Blogger at The American Conservative) concluded on an ironic note. The pressure on Jardon to return the deposit marked “the next phase in the March of Progress. You must not only bake the cake, or arrange the flowers, or make the ring, you must hold the correct opinion when you do it.”

Jardon defends his right to his own opinion. “One of the reasons my family chose to move to Canada was the rights that it offered, the freedom of religion and freedom of speech, both of which at the time seemed to be very limited in Mexico,” he said.

The United States needs to pay attention: as Canada is clearly exemplifying, everyone is affected when marriage is redefined.

Warning from Canada: Do Not Redefine Marriage

Many same-sex marriage advocates continue to falsely present the redefinition of marriage as simply providing respect and recognition to loving same-sex couples, with no consequences for anyone else. But as we have seen with the frequent attacks against supporters of traditional marriage - bakers, florists, and others - this has already been proven to be false. To get a fuller exposition of the consequences of redefining marriage, we only have to look at what has happened with our northern neighbor.

Mid adult couple holding their childrenThe article from Dawn Stefanowicz is not the first such warning we’ve had. In 2012, the backers of the proposed marriage amendment in Minnesota held a day-long seminal featuring many speakers from Canada, including a prominent Archbishop, who detailed the 300 plus cases of supporters of marriage being punished, and the constant pressure of the government to push this radical understanding of marriage on children. Dawn Stefanowicz uses Canada’s decline due to legalizing same-sex marriage as an all too apt example of what kind of fire the United States is playing with today:

We have great compassion for people who struggle with their sexuality and gender identity—not animosity. And we love our parents. Yet, when we go public with our stories, we often face ostracism, silencing, and threats.

I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope.

. . .

In Canada, freedoms of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist in Canada today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government.

She continues to warn Americans that a federal redefinition of marriage will authorize the “State as Ultimate Arbiter of parenthood”:

Over and over, we are told that “permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.” That is a lie.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, parenting was immediately redefined. Canada’s gay marriage law, Bill C-38, included a provision to erase the term “natural parent” and replace it across the board with gender-neutral “legal parent” in federal law. Now all children only have “legal parents,” as defined by the state. By legally erasing biological parenthood in this way, the state ignores children’s foremost right: their immutable, intrinsic yearning to know and be raised by their own biological parents.

. . .

In effect, same-sex marriage not only deprives children of their own rights to natural parentage, it gives the state the power to override the autonomy of biological parents, which means parental rights are usurped by the government.

In addition, the rights and freedom that made our nation a land of liberty will too be disregarded if same-sex marriage is legalized:

In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

Anyone who is offended by something you have said or written can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. In Canada, these organizations police speech, penalizing citizens for any expression deemed in opposition to particular sexual behaviors or protected groups identified under “sexual orientation.” It takes only one complaint against a person to be brought before the tribunal, costing the defendant tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The commissions have the power to enter private residences and remove all items pertinent to their investigations, checking for hate speech.

. . .

It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Many more issues will occur if the Supreme Court decides to redefine marriage. We recognize the flagrant lies that are told, the false “tolerance” that is being promulgated, the egregious attacks on our liberties. Our neighbor Canada knows these first-hand as well, even to a more frightening degree. We must never give up the fight for marriage, because if marriage is redefined, we know that first amendments rights will also be “redefined.”

Read the full article at The Public Discourse.

The War on Free Speech

Kirsten Powers has a new book that outlines the agenda and strategy of the same-sex marriage lobby to suppress free speech throughout the country. The American Unity Fund seems to be spearheading this attack by exhibiting it’s ability to sway policy against the American people. As Stella Morabito reports via The Federalist:

ThinkstockPhotos-186674643Powers has dubbed today’s intolerant purveyors of leftist causes the [sic] “the illiberal left” because, as a liberal herself, she sees them as anything but liberal about allowing a voice to those who don’t toe their rigid line. Her book catalogues and analyzes the dehumanization and demonization techniques the illiberal Left applies towards anyone who dares to veer from their rigid narratives. Their sacred cows include abortion, climate change, same-sex marriage, and second-wave feminism. Dissenters are systematically smeared and destroyed.

. . .

But I would add that most of this is coming straight out of the Left’s holy of holies: the LGBT lobby (whose agenda Powers happens to support.) Because next up on the LGBT hit parade is the literal silencing of America—with the force of the federal government behind it.

Morabito's article, outlining Powers’ book and the LGBT agenda, defines AUF and its next step after the Supreme Court decision is finished.

The American Unity Fund is a heavily funded new super-PAC looking to blanket the country with LGBT anti-discrimination laws. In effect, those laws aim to wipe out any alternative voice to the LGBT agenda. The effort is being spearheaded by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer and another wealthy hedge fund manager, Tim Gill. Gill’s operations—the Gill Foundation and Gill Action—have been dedicated to “nonpartisan” gains for the LGBT lobby on the legislative and judicial fronts.

But with an expected federal win for gay marriage from the Supreme Court, the LGBT movement is poised to shift its focus to policing speech in the workplace, schools, businesses, and public squares across America.

While it seems that the target of AUF actions is anyone who supports traditional marriage, the issue is far more pervasive: America is about to be blanketed by anti-free speech policies from the same-sex marriage agenda.

Assuming the Supreme Court signs on to the same-sex marriage meme come June, we can expect to see a noose tightening around both public and private speech, including spontaneous conversation, in America. The ultimate effect of the “Freedom for All Americans” campaign will be to criminalize the expression of conservative as well as traditional religious thought on issues of marriage and family. In doing so, it will further stunt independent thought or debate in the wider political context.

. . .

There’s so much to unpack here, but if pressed to dissect this vat of worms, I’d say that the Orwellian “Freedom for All Americans” meme boils down to the ancient urge to centralize power. That always begins with controlling people, which, in turn, requires the control of human relationships. To control relationships, central planners need to divide and conquer people by restricting their ability to communicate with one another.

Read full article via The Federalist.

Differing Opinions Are Not Welcome at John Hopkins University

Andrew Guernsey, a political science and classics major at John Hopkins University, reports via National Review that John Hopkins has launched another attack on individuals who hold conservative beliefs. This week, JHU’s student government voted to ban any hypothetical future Chick-fil-A outlet from their campus.

The student government allegedly disagrees with the personal opinions of the fast food chain’s owner on the topic of marriage. Guernsey, president of the student group Johns Hopkins University Voice for Life, explains why the student government’s decision is so dangerous:

ThinkstockPhotos-187643976The student government’s vote went beyond merely expressing support for same-sex marriage. The Chick-fil-A ban seeks to introduce unprecedented discrimination against companies owned by religious conservatives into the university’s contracting policies, even though only a few years ago, prominent liberals like Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama had held the same views on marriage. In banning Chick-fil-A from campus for “homophobia,” the JHU student government is only a short step from similarly giving the boot to socially conservative Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, and Jewish student groups from campus, as we have seen happen at Vanderbilt University, the 23 campuses of California State University, and others throughout the country.

In a free-market economy, the company that makes the best food at the lowest price usually wins more business. At a university, the robust free market of thought similarly should allow the best ideas to win out in an unfettered debate. The Chick-fil-A ban hurts both types of free market on campus. If the argument for redefining marriage into a genderless contract for any two consenting adults is so strong, then advocates for it should not need the student government’s version of the thought police to silence dissenting voices.

Guernsey is absolutely correct: silencing dissenting voices is an affront to the American university system. JHU’s message is crystal clear: any students who disagree with their opinion are not welcome on Johns Hopkins' campus. It is no shock, but it is a shame. There are many brilliant students at JHU who should be given the opportunity to hear both sides of an argument and make the decision for themselves. While Johns Hopkins may have seemingly “silenced” potential dissenting voices, it won’t last.

Truth can never be fully silenced nor destroyed. The student government at Hopkins can spin their decisions any way they want, but sharp students like Guernsey can see exactly what their real intention is: discrimination, all in the name of “tolerance.”

I Stand Sunday

istandsunday2

Christians across America are joining I Stand Sunday this weekend, November 2, 2014, as speakers from across the nation gather at Grace Community Church in Houston, Texas to focus on the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion or monitoring.

We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city's Mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication.

Watch the free, live simulcast above beginning at 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday (program duration is approx. 90 minutes), or the rebroadcast at 8:10PM CT/9:10 p.m. ET.

Remember to stand for religious freedom online as well by using the hashtag #IStandSunday.

Twitter Glitch or Taking Sides?

After pastors in Houston dared to exercise their first amendment rights to speak out against same-sex marriage laws, they were issued subpoenas by the city. In response, a faith-based organization launched a petition, demanding that the city end its bullying against those who were doing nothing more than acting on their rights to free speech and freedom of religion (see the First Amendment).

To spread the word, the hashtag #HoustonWeHaveAProblem was launched, which was met with a less than desirable response from Twitter.

Individuals responded with tweets to let everyone know the issue and @FaithDrivenConsumer called on others to help lift the block:

On Tuesday, in an email to the Daily Signal, a Twitter spokesman for Twitter explained:

“The URL HoustonProblem.com was mistakenly flagged as spam last week, by an outside organization that tracks spam sources. We quickly restored access and apologize for the error.”

Coincidence? You may remember that Twitter users encountered similar blocks while trying to utilize the hashtag #IStandWithPhil to petition for Phil Robertson's right to express his beliefs on the traditional Christian view of marriage and family. An executive director at Faith Driven Consumer, Matthew Faraci, admitted to The Daily Signal that while it is possible that both campaigns were blocked due to “technical reasons,” it looks suspicious.

We saw this during #IStandWithPhil, this happened to [former Arkansas] Gov. Mike Huckabee, and we know this also happened to [actor] Kirk Cameron, so fundamentally, someone needs to ask the question: Why is there a repeated pattern of behavior here?

Once Twitter fixed the “technical problem,”  the hashtag went back to leading people to the petition, which has now received over 10,000 signatures. Faraci suggested that it is possible that in blocking the petition, Twitter made the petition supporters more passionate and determined to get it signed. In addition, Faraci believes that the public deserves (and needs) more transparency from Twitter and other social media giants.

In an era where transparency is the expectation, we encourage Twitter and other social media sites to be very open about how this whole process works in order to reassure the public that there is fair and equal treatment for people of all perspectives.

Twitter has not responded to any follow-up questions regarding the number of websites it normally flags as spam on a daily basis.  Faraci made an excellent point in asking:

Has a similar effort from an opposing viewpoint been blocked? We challenge you to find such an example.

If Twitter wants to take sides, they should understand the issue at stake. The “Houston Problem” wasn’t a case of bickering political parties: it was an assault on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Twitter's entire existence is built on the assumption of free speech and should take a hard look at those “technical issues.”

Volokh on Coeur d'Alene Ordinance: "Inconsistent with the Free Speech Clause and the Idaho RFRA"

UCLA Law Professor and Washington Post blogger Eugene Volokh has posted an analysis of the controversy surrounding the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

If you haven't heard about the outrageous case, click here for more information.

The basic situation is this, as explained by Alliance Defending Freedom, one of whose allied attorneys will be representing the couple that runs the chapel:

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Silenced

As ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco notes, "Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly."

Volokh, in his piece, seems to agree with ADF that "he city is on seriously flawed legal ground." He writes:

The First Amendment protects the right to speak the words in a wedding ceremony — words that have deep meaning to many officiants as well as to the parties — and the right to refrain from speaking the words. A system which secures the right to spread religious and moral messages inherent in the wedding vows must also guarantee the right not to convey those messages (including the message of approval of the wedding inherent in the act of officiating at it) in contexts that the officiant thinks unholy and immoral rather than sacred and right.

187643976We hope and pray that the Knapps are successful in their lawsuit. But the fact that such a lawsuit is needed at all is a sobering reminder of why we must continue to fight to roll back the damaging and unconstitutional imposition of same-sex 'marriage' that has been forced on so many States' citizens by ideologically-driven and unconscionable judges playing to a powerful special interest group.

More than the definition of marriage is at stake: the fundamental contours of our democratic republic, such as the right to self-determination and the rights of religion, speech, and assembly imbricated in the First Amendment, are also at risk of being radically redefined.

WATCH LIVE: Values Voter Summit 2014

The Values Voter Summit is just days away! The annual Summit—which provides a forum to inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong—will be held from Sept. 26-28 in Washington D.C.

If you're not able to attend, you can watch the live feed all weekend right from your home or office.

Friday, Sept. 26 Live Feed:

Saturday, Sept. 27 Live Feed:

VVS copy

New Study Suggests It's Better to Leave Religion Off Your Résumé

Do you list your involvement with religious organizations on your résumé?  You may want to cease revealing your religious affiliation on your résumé, a new study by the Southern Sociology Society suggests.  The study found that applicants whose résumés included faith affiliations were 26 percent less likely to be contacted by employers.

PapersThe Southern Sociology Society researchers sent out 3,200 fake résumés, one a control group of résumés without any religious affiliations and one group of résumés with various religious affiliations indicated by membership in a religious organization in college.

The study suggested that in order to improve their résumés, applicants refrain from publicly displaying their religious affiliations.

Natalie Wyman at The Family Foundation writes:

What does this say about our society? Citizens are advised to hide their religious beliefs so it will be easier to get a job. Shouldn’t we be advising employers to stop discriminating against applicants just because of their religious beliefs? The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly lays out this fundamental right to freedom of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” So why does the study suggest that Americans need to restrict their free exercise of religion in order to get a job?

Unfortunately, religious discrimination in the workplace has been escalating in recent years. Studies like this one exemplify the need for more protections for religious liberty in our state and in our country. The purpose of religious liberty is not that everyone must hide their faith for fear of offending others; rather, everyone should be allowed to express their faith in public without fear of being punished.

So much for diversity.

Marriage, Marketing, and Intimidation

Over at The Public Discourse, Doug Mainwaring has written a fantastic article about the tactics that marriage redefiners increasingly embrace, and how marriage supporters must fight back against substance-lacking intimidation and personal attacks.

Advocates of same-sex marriage have aggressively used the media, political correctness, and manipulation to push their agenda on the American people, Mainwaring wrote.  He also explored a relatively unknown far-left 1990 manifesto that outlined tactics for marriage redefiners.  Doug Mainwaring

Mainwaring especially stressed that we must not be afraid to act on behalf of the truth of marriage.

Political correctness, Mainwaring wrote, has allowed marriage redefiners to silence and shame those who disagree with them.  Political correctness is the left's favorite tool but also their Achilles heel:

No tactic of the powers opposing Judeo-Christian mores has proven more effective than political correctness. Why? Non-adherents are threatened with social isolation and anaclitic depression. Thus, the peer pressure that dominates middle schools, high schools, and college campuses retains all its horrifying power to intimidate American adults, causing multitudes to suppress free inquiry and redirect their behaviors.

[...]

But the processes that have led to the surprising success of the radical left are also its Achilles heel. Consent that is manufactured is not real. Proponents of same-sex marriage haven’t won in the arena of ideas—they have won through manipulation.

The moral high ground the radical left seems to enjoy is extremely fragile, because its popular support has been fabricated. The left’s only hope of retaining this support is to continue to suppress free speech and religion. They cannot risk the proclamation of truth—whether it be the truth of the Gospel, the truth of natural law, or even simple common sense.

But the ground won by the radical left can be regained. If we are as disciplined and focused as the proponents of same-sex marriage, we can not only retake this ground, we can also pave new inroads. We must not despair; we should regroup and prepare to wage the battle in a new and different way.

Mainwaring encouraged marriage supporters to boldly, courageously speak up for the truth.  We know we have the truth, he wrote, and we must proclaim this truth in our communities.  We have the opportunity to stop the left from controlling the narrative:

The only way to fight the powerful marketing and intimidation behind same-sex marriage is for each of us to bravely stand up in our local communities, confronting the bullying, silencing tactics of out-of-touch judges, legislators, corporate cronies, and media collaborators.

Stand up for social positions that you know in your gut to be true. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by political correctness. Stand up for marriage. Stand up for life. Stand up for the right of children to be born and to have both a mom and a dad. You have truth on your side. You are right, and they are wrong, so do not be afraid.

Men and women rise up to supplant the career politicians and media types who now dominate the national narrative. We can no longer remain silent. We need solid legislators, journalists, and activists to step up to the plate and start filling positions at every level of government—local, state, and national—and filling the blogosphere, the airwaves, and the opinion pages with authentically pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-liberty views. We need to wrest the narrative away from the radical left.

Mainwaring is one of many speakers who will be featured at the March for Marriage on June 19As a gay man who is opposed to same-sex marriage, Mainwaring brings a unique and important perspective to the marriage debate.

Why Academic Freedom Matters (Now More Than Ever)

On May 19, the Intercollegiate Review published a brilliant essay authored by Robert P. George, NOM's founding Chairman.

The essay is adapted from George's new book, Conscience and Its Enemies: Exposing the Dogmas of Secular Liberalism.  It explores why academic freedom is necessary:

College-StudentPerhaps it is worth pausing to ask why we care—or should care—so much about intellectual freedom in the academy. Why ought we be concerned about the rights of an administrator who is fired for stating her moral views by a university that says it is morally neutral and nonsectarian, or the freedom of an assistant professor who is denied tenure because he would not toe the party line at such a university? Why should we care about students who are punished with a bad grade for having the temerity to state views that are out of line with those of the course instructor? What is it about intellectual or academic freedom that makes it worth worrying about—and worth fighting for?

[...]

I have already mentioned that some partisans of academic freedom misguidedly depict truth as an enemy of freedom. They appeal to, or presuppose, a species of relativism or subjectivism or radical skepticism in defending freedom of inquiry. Now, it is certainly true that one reason for respecting academic freedom is that people can be mistaken about what they regard—even securely regard—as true. Indeed, even unanimity of belief does not guarantee its correctness. But I think that the possibility of error is not the primary or most powerful reason for honoring academic freedom and protecting it even in areas where we are secure in our knowledge of the truth.

The stronger and deeper reason is that freedom is the condition of our fuller appropriation of the truth. I use the term appropriation because knowledge and truth have their value for human beings precisely as fulfillment of capacities for understanding and judgment. The liberal arts liberate the human spirit because knowledge of truth—attained by the exercise of our rational faculties—is intrinsically and not merely instrumentally valuable. “Useful knowledge” is, of course, all to the good. It is wonderful when human knowledge can serve other human goods, such as health, as in the biomedical sciences, or economic efficiency and growth, or the constructing of great buildings and bridges, or any of a million other worthy purposes. But even “useful knowledge” is often more than instrumentally valuable, and a great deal of knowledge that wouldn’t qualify as “useful” in the instrumental sense is intrinsically and profoundly enriching and liberating. This is why we honor—and should honor even more highly than we currently do in our institutions of higher learning—excellence in the humanities and pure science (social and natural).

Knowledge that elevates and enriches—knowledge that liberates the human spirit—cannot be merely notional. It must be appropriated. It is not—it cannot be—a matter of affirming or even believing correct propositions. The knowledge that elevates and liberates is knowledge not only that something is the case but also why and how it is the case. Typically such knowledge does more than settle something in one’s mind; it opens new avenues of exploration. Its payoff includes new sets of questions, new lines of inquiry.

Let us return, then, to the question of why we should respect freedom even where truth is known securely. It is because freedom—freedom to inquire, freedom to assent or withhold assent as one’s best judgment dictates—is a condition of the personal appropriation of the truth by the human subject, the human person for the sake of whom, for the flourishing of whom, for the liberation of whom, knowledge of truth is intrinsically valuable. And it is intrinsically valuable not in some abstract sense but precisely as an aspect of the well-being and fulfillment of human beings—rational creatures whose flourishing consists in part in intellectual inquiry, understanding, and judgment and in the practice of the virtues that make possible excellence in the intellectual question.

The freedom we must defend is freedom for the practice of these virtues. It is freedom for excellence, the freedom that enables us to master ourselves. It is a freedom that, far from being negated by rigorous standards of scholarship, demands them. It is not the freedom of “if it feels good, do it”; it is, rather, the freedom of self-transcendence, the freedom from slavery to self.

Read the rest of Robert George's essay here.

Repression: A Very, Very Dangerous Thing

Two national voices from opposite sides of the spectrum related the same opinion in the wake of the Sam Bradford draft photo uproar: “Shouldn’t you also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people?"

Newt Gingrich and Stephen A. Smith, a self-described liberal, both expressed that the wave of recriminations against people speaking out against the televised kiss demonstrates an incredible intolerance on the part of the gay community.

Newt GingrichAs was reported on TruthRevolt.org yesterday:

On CNN's Crossfire, co-host Newt Gingrich pushed back against recent recriminations against people speaking out against Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on ESPN after he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

Gingrich debated co-host Van Jones and former NFL player Jamal Anderson over the NFL fining and suspending Miami Dolphins linebacker Don Jones for Tweeting out "Horrible" after the televised kiss.  Former NFL running back Derrick Ward received death threats after he went further in condemning the gay PDA he and his kids saw during the televised draft.

Gingrich:  “You guys talk about how you want to be inclusive, except of course, if somebody tweets this, then having a death threat or ‘let’s send them off to sensitivity training.’ It strikes me, that’s repression, that’s not inclusive.”

Anderson:  “Is it repression to try to teach them to be understanding and open to other people, especially when you talk about people they have not been exposed to?”

Gingrich:  “Shouldn’t you also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people?"

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, a self-described liberal, echoed Gingrich's sentiments yesterday when he said, "People should have the freedom to not want to be associated with that or not want that in their face. Smith also said, 'I think it’s a very, very dangerous thing when people see something and they have a problem with what they’re seeing and they express themselves, and ultimately they’re fined.'"

Did This Councilman Really Just Tell Millions of New Yorkers They're Unwelcome There? Yes. Yes He Did.

We've shared with you before this insightful article by Ryan Anderson at Heritage about the recent resignation of Brendan Eich from Mozilla. In it, Ryan remarked:

The debate over the meaning and purpose of marriage will continue. We should conduct it in a civil manner. Bullies may win for a while, but theirs is a scorched-earth policy. They poison democratic discourse and fray the bonds on which democracy itself ultimately depends.

Even those who disagree with each other about morally charged issues of public policy need to be able to live together.

Councilman Daniel DrommBut lest we think that Eich's ouster is an outlier, a rare case, consider this more recent news out of New York City. Via the Huffington Post, a gay city councilman is quoted as protesting the entrance of an unwanted new presence into his city. From his remarks here, who might you guess he's talking about?

"We don’t need bigots coming to New York City," Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is openly gay, told HuffPost. "They are not welcome here unless they can embrace all of New York's diverse community, including the LGBT community."

What radical group could provoke such a fiery response and merit being slurred as "bigots", you ask? Well, unbelievable as it may seem... Chick-fil-A. And yet the company hardly seems like it should be so unwelcome to a sane observer.

Of course, the reason for Dromm's intolerance of the company is that its CEO personally values biblical beliefs about marriage as solely being the union of one man and one woman.

Chick-fil-A, NYC

But what's most horrifying in Dromm's remarks is his final say on the matter. You would think that maybe his first statement of unwelcomeness was a knee-jerk and misinformed reaction. What if he were told that Chick-fil-A's CEO has repeatedly said that he has no intention of bringing the company into the political debate surrounding the issue of marriage?

From HuffPost [emphasis added]:

... Dromm, the city councilman, said there was no place for Chick-fil-A in New York, even if it remains out of the political fray.

“We don’t need bigoted people even keeping their opinions to themselves,” he said. “They need to wake up and see reality.”

Not only is the sleight of "bigot," directed toward those who hold marriage to be the union of a man and a woman, completely unfair, mean-spirited, and wide of the mark. More than that: here we have the most compelling proof one could want of Ryan Anderson's assertion that the gay rights community is engaged in a "scorched earth" policy of bigotry and intolerance.

It is a "thought policy" regime in the making, and if anyone thinks a lesson was learned with the Mozilla controversy, he or she needs only consider this later story to realize that Eich's treatment was only a template for the radical homosexual lobby's plans for the future. For now, it's chilling enough to know that an elected city councilman in New York has just told millions of his fellow residents that they are unwelcome there simply on account of their pro-marriage values.