How to criminalize Christianity

The United States has freedom of religion, and to say Christians are “persecuted” here is surely overblown, compared to how Christians are treated in other parts of the world.  And yet, overt persecution could conceivably break out even in this land of the free.  But how, given this country’s constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

We are seeing some of the ways this could happen and to a degree is already happening.  The right to religious freedom can be played against other rights that are considered more important.  Thus, religious opposition to certain kinds of sinful behavior can be treated as illegal discrimination.  A Christian’s disagreement with other religions can be outlawed as hate speech.

Another legal argument is taking shape in Georgia, where a college is being sued for not permitting a Christian student from preaching the Gospel, even though he had reserved space in one of the two campus “Free Speech Zones.”  (That a college allows free speech only in “zones” is itself a travesty, both of the ideals of higher education and of American law.  According to the Constitution, the whole nation is to be a free speech zone.)

The college is defending itself on the grounds that the preaching constituted “disorderly conduct.”  And that by calling people “sinners,” the preacher was using “fighting words,” which are legally outside the bounds of free speech.

One can envision a time when the freedom of religion applies only to religions that are universalist, permissive, non-proselytzing, and culturally-conforming.  That is to say, hardly any actual religions. [Read more…]

And now the conservative Generation Z

9091132233_9f8928fbbd_zForget Millennials.  A new generation is coming of age:  Generation-Z.

It’s being heralded as the most conservative generation since 1945.

One reason, according to Charlie Peters, a member of that generation in Great Britain, is their love of freedom.  Not long ago, that impulse led young people to embrace the causes of the Left.  But now the Left is associated with suppressing freedom.

Now that Generation-Zs are entering the university, they are chafing against the Leftist establishment’s rejection of free speech.  These young people, Peters observes, grew up on the internet and social media where people can hold any position and say whatever they want.  So when they come to the university with its speech codes and taboo ideas, they don’t like it.  So they are becoming conservatives. [Read more…]

Outlawing visits to websites

ISIS and other jihadist groups are using the internet to spread their message and recruit new members.  To combat this, Eric Posner, a prominent law professor from the University of Chicago, says that we need to put limits on freedom of speech.  Specifically, he proposes in Slate that we make it illegal for anyone to visit or link to or point other people to jihadist websites.

Again, note the syndrome:  Our security is at risk, so eliminate civil liberties!  Fear as the pretext for doing away with freedom. [Read more…]

Freedom and the new comment system

Thanks, everybody, for trying out the new World Table comment system.  I can relate to the frustrations some of you are registering.  Thanks also to Jack Donaldson of World Table for commenting on the various threads.  We should rate him as “helpful,” “strongly agree.”  He wrote me an e-mail with the subject “Wow! Loving your community!”  That shows a great attitude, given how many of you were “rating” his system rather poorly, but he is right to be impressed with your thoughtfulness and your high level of discourse.  He said this:  “Great feedback coming in so far. I’ve been in the thread answering people’s questions this morning. So far, most everything mentioned is in the works, but we are feeling the pressure, having heard a ton of feedback from your folks.”  We’ll see what happens with all of this.

Anyway, one larger point was raised that deserves discussion in itself.  Is this attempt to create a climate of civility by means of an algorithm part of the same syndrome that has given us politically correct speech codes, trigger warnings, and the hypersensitivity to being offended that shuts down the freedom of speech?  The syndrome that we have mocked and criticized on this very blog?  Do we have such thin skins that we need to be protected from other commenters, lest our feelings be hurt?

I’d like to hear what you think about this, but I think there is a difference in what this new comment system is trying to do, which I will explain after the jump. [Read more…]

Prosecute global warming skeptics?

A group of 20 scientists is urging the president to prosecute scientists and organizations  that question global warming. Now a Rasmussen survey has found that 27% of Democrats agree with that approach.  So do 11% of Republicans and 12% of Independents. [Read more…]

Newspaper won’t allow opinions against gay marriage

Where we are already, after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling:  A Harrisburg, PA, newspaper has announced that since  the gay marriage issue is now “settled,” it will not print op-ed pieces or letters to the editor that oppose gay marriage or say that homosexual acts are immoral or unnatural.  We won’t print racist, sexist, or anti-semitic letters, the editor explained.  “To that we add homophobic ones.” [Read more…]