If you thought the demand for censorship of a satanic black mass in Oklahoma City was absurd, wait till you read this column in the National Catholic Reporter by Phyllis Zagano. Her bio says she’s a “senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and winner of the 2014 Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice.” Her research apparently does not include getting even a tiny little clue about the Constitution, but it has taught her how to poison the well.
The facts: a Satanist group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu plunked down $420 to rent the 92-seat CitySpace Theatre for a “black mass.” The Catholic archbishop complained. The city manager cited the First Amendment. The archbishop has asked for prayers. The rest of city government is not talking.
The force behind the event, 35-year-old Adam Brian Daniels, is well-known to the Civic Center folks. He’s been involved in two of the three previous Satanist events there. Last year, nobody came.
Daniels is also a lifetime member of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry.
Yet Oklahoma City authorities defend his right to perform a vile attack on what Christians hold sacred.
Bravo, Ms. Zagano. You’ve learned how to poison the well. The fact that Daniels is a registered sex offender has precisely nothing to do with the issue. He may be the biggest asshole on the planet. The fact that he’s a satanist and he thinks idiotic rituals like this are worth doing means I would probably not get along with him at all. But that has nothing to do with whether the city can prevent him from renting a public facility for his little display. And honestly, a Catholic is probably the last person on earth who ought to be using that particular attempt to distract attention, don’t you think?
No matter. The city manager has a bunch of old Supreme Court cases in his briefcase, all about the freedom of religion and free speech.
The law has always seemed to be rooted in common sense, but this is off the rails. Who can think Satanism is a religion? Who thinks a “black mass” is political speech? Bottom line: The city manager thinks the First Amendment protects blasphemous hate speech. Don’t they know about the 14th Amendment out there in Oklahoma?
Okay, seriously: What? The? Fuck? How in the world did this “senior research associate-in-residence” come to think that the 14th Amendment somehow should prevent this from happening? The 14th Amendment does apply the Bill of Rights to the states, including the First Amendment, which is precisely why the city can’t ban this event. And yes, the First Amendment does protect blasphemous speech (and no, there is no First Amendment exception for “hate speech” either).
I always thought your First Amendment rights ended at the tip of my nose: You cannot punch me any more than you can yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or defame me. No government or government entity can deny my rights. The 14th Amendment makes that quite clear: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States … nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So Oklahoma City is enforcing its interpretation of law so that Catholics — their beliefs, practices, and their very selves — are not protected. Why don’t Catholics get “equal protection of the laws”?
Of course, you can argue that both ways, but the bottom line is that my rights not to be offended or harmed can, or at least should, overtake your rights to offend or harm me. That does not mean discussing Obamacare or even burning the flag. That means public desecration of the Eucharist. That means blasphemy.
NO, you can’t “argue that both ways.” Well, you can, but your argument is fucking stupid. And as a matter of constitutional law, this could not be more plain or well-established. I know the Catholic Church had the power to oppress non-Catholics in centuries past, but that was a long time ago. You’ve never had that power in this country and you never will. Maybe it’s time for you to get the fuck over it.
Here’s a news flash: Oklahoma has blasphemy laws. Blasphemy is a misdemeanor. The Oklahoma Statutes state: “Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.”
Another news flash: This law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Again, this is not even remotely a matter of dispute. This was decided decades ago. You’d think a “senior research associate-in-residence” could figure that out. I suggest trying that newfangled Google thingie.