57: Quo Vadis, Free Speech?
British Home Office Secretary Jacqui Smith recently placed American talk show host Michael Savage on a UK ban list though he had not even attempted to enter the country. The Savage Nation is sometimes impolite and always right wing, but to deny entry for such reasons speaks loudly of the New Left’s need to silence free speech. The irony is terrible, for as Smith offers these moral judgments about speech, she is under investigation for the misuse of government funds and for buying X-rated movies for her husband’s viewing pleasure.
The Sixties revolutionaries cried out for free speech; who would have suspected that the maturing fruit of the revolution would be the censorship of it? For a generation or so, radical ideas have translated implacably into public policy, but in the invention of “hate speech” we see a new bully on the block, flexing its social muscle power.
Three attempts to control speech are in preparation:
1. The Homeland Security team under Janet Napolitano issued profiles to all law-enforcement agencies warning of single-issue terrorist groups in need of supervision, (e.g., returning veterans and states’ rights or pro-life organizations). Since not a shred of evidence exists for such “right-wing” terrorist cells, what could motivate such a warning, if not a desire to control thought? The Southern Poverty Law Center, used by the federal Department of Justice, lists sane Christian groups like the Traditional Values Coalition, American Vision and the Pro-Family Resource Center as “hate groups.”
2. On April 29, 2009 the US House of Representatives passed the HR 1913 hate crimes bill, which deals with a “a serious national epidemic” (not the swine-flu virus, by the way). This law gives federal protection to the following classes: lesbians, gay men, pansexuals, drag queens and kings, transgenders or cross-dressers, exhibitionists, and those who enjoy various fetishes such as oral sex, anal sex, group sex, sadomasochistic leather bondage sex, necrophilia, incest and bestiality. The House Democrats voted down an amendment that would have excluded pedophilia from protection.
There is no nationwide epidemic, as FBI hate crime statistics prove. This bill lays the legal foundation for the criminalization of a particular kind of “hate” speech, in particular, Christian speech. Any pastor, youth leader or ordinary Christian believer who teaches what the Bible teaches about normative heterosexuality as over against abnormal sexual practices, is outside the law. Conversely, the bill not only gives free rein to the approval of ideological speech, but also to the practice of sexual perversion, and to instruction about such perversion, which must be taught in schools, as early as kindergarten. And there is no end, for in the wings await the “triads” (ménage à trois), the “quads” and the “quints,” who are already seeking legalization for their “polyamorous” conjugal arrangements.
I am reminded of Italian Frederico Fellini’s1969 x-rated Satyricon, a sexual extravaganza loosely based on the work of Petronius, a Roman courtier at the time of Nero (AD 37–68). Petronius wrote a play containing bawdy episodes of Roman debauchery, including prostitution orgies, homosexual and hermaphrodite trysts, gay marriage and pedophilia. His play was staged during the same era in which Christians were being tarred and burned on poles to light up Nero’s garden soirées, and the apostle Paul was beheaded for (among other things) writing Romans chapter one.
3. Legislative state and federal approval of homosexual marriage has begun and seems unstoppable. Many fail to realize that state-sponsored homosexual marriage does not simply add another category to the civil rights agenda. It creates a “new” world, a different, planetary civilization based on—“sameness” (homo). By the same token, it will render the “old world” of difference (hetero), including the notion of the Creator different than the creatures, illegal and outside of the law. No speech critical of this “new” state of matrimony will be tolerated.
Never has the church been more in need of understanding the antithetical worldview issues behind the debate about socially-sanctioned speech. As I travel around the world, speaking on the antithesis between the “sameness” of pagan thinking and the “otherness” of Christian thinking, I see these issues everywhere.
We need to pray for wisdom and understanding, to realize that behind these new “democratic” rights is the appearance of the old pagan lie. We also need to pray for boldness of speech, as Paul courageously requested. He faced the same kind of pagan world that we are now facing, and suspected the fate that awaited him.
I hope you pray this prayer for me. I am praying it for you:
…also [pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)