Sunday, May 13, 2012

Should Non-Discrimination against Persons become Non-Speech against Behaviors and Ideas?

Does a university’s non-discrimination policy limit free speech? Should it? Some think it should:

  • University of Nebraska’s assistant football coach, Ron Brown, who is facing censure and calls for his dismissal for publicly expressing his biblically-based views against the homosexual lifestyle, has stated that he’d rather be fired than retract his comments.
  • At a meeting of Omaha City Council in late March, Brown spoke against a proposed ordinance that would give special “protected status” to homosexual students. Brown argued that granting special status to one group would infringe on the rights of other groups. He told the council members that their “discernment” was under scrutiny [of God] and that they would be held to “great accountability for the decision you are making.”
According to an AP report, Brown responded,

  • “To be fired for my faith would be a greater honor than to be fired because we didn’t win enough games,” “I haven’t lost any sleep over it. I realize at some point, we live in a politically correct enough culture where that very well could happen.”
  • Brown further stated he isn’t “picking on” homosexuals, he is just responding to the homosexual agenda that has appeared in American culture.“I have simply said that based on the Bible, homosexuality, the lifestyle of homosexuality, is a sin,” he said. “That has created a flame within itself. But I’ve decided I’m not going to be afraid of people calling me a bigot or a homophobic or narrow-minded out of a simple, gentle, compassionate expression of the truth of God’s word. I’m not going to be bought off by that.”
Brown is correct that people will call him “a bigot or a homophobic or narrow-minded.” This is part of a strategy of socially-sanctioned intimidation and bullying. The opposition has stacked the deck. They can speak out against the Christian faith, but the Christian is no longer allowed to speak against the gay lifestyle without threats of retaliation. They can speak in favor of this lifestyle, but anyone who takes issue with them becomes a “homophobe.”

Just yesterday, the mayor of Grand Rapids referred to Christians as “the forces of darkness” at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. He stated that

  • “The forces of darkness” are behind the drive to cut off taxpayer funding of the nation’s largest abortion provider
However, this was followed by no media outcry to dump the mayor. Meanwhile, CNN is charging Brown with breaking his university’s non-discrimination policy:

This policy reads:

  • It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln not to discriminate based upon age, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, gender, sex, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran’s status, marital status, religion or political affiliation.
However, Brown has affirmed this policy, claiming that he wouldn’t discriminate against a homosexual athlete.  “Non-discrimination” does not equate with “non-speech?” Although a coach should not discriminate against a player living with two women, he should have the freedom to counsel the player against this conduct.

We believe that certain behaviors are wrong, but this doesn’t mean that we discriminate against the wrongdoer. Husbands and wives often disagree with what the other does, but this doesn’t necessarily place the relationship in jeopardy. An employer is not going to agree with everything that his employee does, but this shouldn’t become grounds for dismissal.

Meanwhile, CNN claims that,

  • UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman acknowledged that Brown's views are in stark contrast to the university's anti-discrimination policy.
Certainly, this policy doesn’t disqualify all speech against the beliefs of the various classes of people protected by the anti-discrimination policy. If this were the case, then speech offensive to married people, religious people and “political affiliation” should also be censored. Of course, it can’t be, lest the university would have to take vows of silence.

In order to be consistent, CNN would also have to inveigh against all political speech and even their insinuations against Brown and his faith! However, CNN seems to think that Brown’s talk is offensive and therefore shouldn’t be allowed, without considering the “offensiveness” of their own speech.

In order to solidify their case, CNN abruptly introduces a gay “Christian,” who is a loyal UNL football fan, to mouth their own sentiments:

  • "There's a whole community of LGBT athletes out there that are playing for the teams that we know and love across the country," Major said. "It's about those athletes and creating an environment in NCAA athletics that they feel comfortable in."
Perhaps the LGBT athletes might not feel as comfortable with Brown knowing his beliefs. However, this problem occurs across the board. Whites might not feel comfortable knowing what Blacks believe and visa versa. Republicans might not feel comfortable with what Democrats belief and Christians are not going to feel comfortable what homosexuals believe. The rich might not feel comfortable with the poor or visa-versa.

There will always be these kinds of tensions, and they can’t be solved through silencing one group, or even many. It would be like trying to silence my wife when we disagree. Instead, maturity requires that we learn to accept one-another despite the disagreements. This even goes for me. I don’t like everything about me, but I accept myself because God accepts me in spite of my blemishes. I also accept those living the gay lifestyle, although I shouldn’t be required to approve of their behavior.

In fact, it’s hypocritical to censure someone because we find their opinions or speech offensive. This is because the act of censuring itself is offensive. Thus, we are doing the same thing that we accuse others of doing – being offensive. Perhaps instead, we need to learn how to endure certain “offenses.”

Nancy Pelosi’s commendation of President Obama’s coming-out for gay marriage is essentially logically incoherent for this reason. She rejoiced:

  • “My religion has, compels me - and I love it for it - to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider this a form of discrimination. I think it’s unconstitutional on top of that.”
For one thing, Pelosi incoherently discriminates against discrimination. However, we all exercise many forms of discrimination. Every law discriminates against some form of behavior. Speeding laws discriminate against those who speed. Tax laws discriminate against those who would evade paying taxes. In fact, almost everything that we say draws a line and discriminates!

For another thing, she is clearly discriminating against those who don’t agree with her, even though she didn’t explicitly say so. Consequently, her words can be construed as offensive by those she accuses of discrimination. It cuts both ways. Therefore, if you want to censure certain speech, you have to do more than just show that it discriminates, especially in view of our 1st Amendment rights!

However, she is in a difficult bind, as are all those who want to equate gay rights with civil rights. While civil rights prevent discrimination against certain people, promoters of gay rights endeavor to prevent discrimination against certain behaviors, which have, almost universally, been regarded as sinful. However, discriminating against certain behaviors is what laws are about!

Some feel that these ideas shouldn’t be expressed. CNN insinuates that Brown is culpable for implicating his university by his remarks:

  • Adding to the confusion, when addressing the council, Brown gave his address as "One Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska," home turf of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Anything to offensively silence what CNN finds offensive!

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