Fischer Confuses Criticism and Censorship

What is it with wingnuts not understanding that just because someone points out their stupidity and bigotry, that doesn’t mean they’re being persecuted? Bryan Fischer makes this asinine argument yet again when writing about the court ruling that the names of those who signed a petition against marriage equality can’t be withheld:

The pro-homosexual bigots who want these names released have made it clear that their objective is to find out who these people are so they can confront them and have aggressive conversations with them. If these signers are harassed for doing nothing more than participating in the democratic process, it will create a natural reluctance on the part of voters to sign conservative-oriented petitions in the future. The chilling affect is obvious.

But Dale Carpenter, writing on the all-things-legal website Volokh Conspiracy, has no patience for folks in Washington state concerned about retaliation from homosexual activists.

“The law protects us from violence and threats of violence. But it does not protect us from criticism, even harsh criticism, when we take public positions on public matters. It does not protect us from having our feelings hurt or from having others think poorly of us.”

Well, golly. Mr. Carpenter, without having any idea what he was doing, just condemned the Southern Poverty Law Center for listing pro-marriage organizations such as the AFA as hate groups.

Thanks, Mr. Carpenter, for protecting our absolute right to express “criticism, even harsh criticism” of homosexual behavior based on its impact on human health. And thanks for protecting our absolute right to express “criticism, even harsh criticism” for the homosexual agenda and its repressive impact on religious liberty.

Um. No, you idiot. He did exactly the opposite. You have every legal right to express harsh criticism of the mythical “homosexual agenda.” And others get to harshly criticize you for doing so, including calling you hateful. And then he actually manages to get even dumber:

And when Mr. Carpenter says the law “does not protect us from having our feelings hurt” he just decimated the entire agenda of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the ACLU, because the only basis for most of their lawsuits is that someone has been “offended” by a prayer or by a Ten Commandments monument.

Let’s see if Mr. Carpenter will come to the defense of the public school teacher who may get fired for doing nothing more than expressing “criticism, even harsh criticism” of homosexual behavior on her own Facebook site, which apparently got somebody’s “feelings hurt.”

Hey, guess who did defend that teacher’s First Amendment rights? The ACLU did.

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  • macallan

    Fischer Confuses Criticism and Censorship

    Pretty much a defining characteristic of wackaloons everywhere.

  • otrame


    The court decisions about the First Amendment have nothing to do with someone being offended. They are solely about demanding that people obey the law. Just that. It’s the LAW.

  • jamessweet

    Head… hurts….

  • ArtK

    “Criticism” has to be responded to. “Censorship” doesn’t. The cry of “Censorship!” is supposed to cut off any debate before it starts.

  • d cwilson

    I have to wonder who taught Fischer high school civics. Did he go to a public school or was he homeschooled. Or is he a victim of the Texas School board?

    It’s hard to imagine that someone could get some many fundamental principles of our Constitution wrong by accident.

  • Danaleigh

    Somehow I don’t think he would have as vociferously defended the right of the NAACP not to turn over their private membership rolls to the state of Alabama in 1956…after all, those people were only in danger of being lynched; those horrible pro-gay people want to have AGGRESSIVE CONVERSATIONS with him!

  • jameshanley

    The pro-homosexual bigots who want these names released have made it clear that their objective is to find out who these people are so they can confront them and have aggressive conversations with them

    Response 1: Fischer pretty much admits he’s intimidated by the idea of an aggressive conversation. And I’m supposed to be impressed by him?

    Response 2: Maybe “conversation” is a euphemism here?

  • After reading a few studies that look at the motivations and psychology of conservatives (and Fischer really seems to fit that mold), it seems to make sense why they confuse the concepts of criticism and censorship.

    According to the paper (sorry, don’t have it to hand right now), conservatives base legitimacy not on facts of the case but on the (usually) moral authority of the speaker (or writer). Criticism of the authority is therefore a removal of that authority’s legitimacy, and an authority without legitimacy is therefore — in their perception — without a voice.

    This is why many authoritarian conservatives focus on belittling a spokesperson of a movement (e.g., Gore in AGW, Darwin in evolution, etc.) while bolstering a spokesperson of their own and rarely argue on the facts (and when they do, they often try to demean the other person when they are shown to be wrong, or when they feel like they are on thin ice). Belittling and demeaning a spokesperson in the opposition is exactly what they conflate with criticism, and it’s this form of criticism that they see as effective in silencing their opposition.

    Maybe I’m wrong; maybe Fischer is just a crazy crackpot who can’t distinguish criticism from censorship, but it does seem a pervasive psychological outlook when you look at the persistence of denialism from conservatives (e.g., attacking Gore to diminish AGW, attacking Dawkins and Darwin to diminish evolution, attacking Obama to diminish the actions of 2000-2008, etc).

  • zmidponk

    jameshanley #7:

    Response 2: Maybe “conversation” is a euphemism here?

    Well, after George Takei’s reponse to comments made by Tim Hardaway a few years ago, you gotta wonder:

  • fastlane

    umlud, maybe you’re thinking of Bob Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians.

    If you haven’t read it, do so (it’s available for free).

  • Robin Raianiemi

    Shouldn’t you be proud of what you vote on?

    This coming election year, I will be proud to vote “no” on Minnesota’s anti-gay marriage bill. I’ll post about it on my Facebook page, and tell everyone who’ll listen why I voted against the bigoted, vile, hateful, and deceitful measure. I hope it fails. If I were a religious woman, I’d pray it to fail. Miserably.

    But these sleazoid conservatives want to ooze out from under their rocks, vote in favor of bigotry and hatred, and then crawl back anonymously.

  • fastlane,

    Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  • abb3w

    It’s also possible that one of Jonathan Haidt’s papers is the one umlud is thinking of. None of them seem to stand out as directly addressing the topic, but several seem at least peripheral to the question.