Infographic – Focus on the Family Pretends the First Amendment Won’t Protect Them
I would really like to thank queer cartoonist Bruce Garrett for his time and ideas to generously shared with me in getting to the final cartoon you see today.
This cartoon is inspired by Focus’ “Family News In Focus” radio program: ( Broadcast 11/03/05 +3:28 )
Host Bob Ditmer: “An amendment to the Children’s Safety Act adds sexual orientation, gender and disability to protections covered by federal hate crimes law. A conference committee will determine if it remains before being sent to the President. But if Sweden is any example, the legislation would have devastating consequences here in the us. Here’s Pete Winn.”
Pete Winn: “If the effect of such laws in other countries replicates itself here, preaching the bible will be criminal. Steve Adams is a reporter with [Focus’] Citizen Magazine.”
Steve Adams: “As things move farther in that direction, it will become less inconceivable that we could have, say an Ake Greene situation. That’s the pastor in Sweden who goes before the Supreme Court on November 9th and he’s facing jail time for having preached against homosexuality.”
Well done. The graphics look really nice. Did you e-mail it to the barmy Focus members?
They monitor this site regularly. But readers who wish to share anything with Focus can drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Although, slander and libel and ‘fighting words’ are actionable…there has been no punishment against religious people for their Biblical statements against gays and lesbians.
And ultimately, it’s gays and lesbians who have to suffer the consequences of such speech.
If this were merely speech WITHOUT any actions against gay people, that’s one thing.
But there is real suffering that occurs because of this speech.
And mind, divorced people, adulterers and those who bear false witness….are not publicly censured in the way gay people are by believers.
Which makes their speech critically SELECTIVE and inconsistent even with their own stated beliefs. And especially what they can get away with in public discourse.
So, unless and until their speech includes ALL Biblical admonishments with the intended consequences for all, they deserve to have their speech given serious scrutiny by lawmakers, if not restriction.
In Sweden, this is the basic reasoning behind this court case.
Christians are unwilling to spread their restrictions consistently.
So, in Sweden….it’s either be consistent in what you’re doing, or shut up. Because there are real damages coming from their speech to gay people and this is neither fair, or reasonable that these same Christians will not compensate.
I can understand Sweden’s position.
Here in America, gays and lesbians (despite prejudice) can and will function very competently and are taxed and expected to participate in FINANCIAL and physical communal support.
However, with responsibility SHOULD also come rights and privileges.
Which more and more states are unwilling to allow.
So, unless this country is willing to exempt gay people from taxation, or compensate for the expense of separate and unequal treatment, we cannot call our moral principles valid in community exclusion.
You can’t benefit from a group, while committing to an extension of Biblical speech that vilifies at the same time.
Churches are benefitting more than ever from speaking nastily about gay people. The President has written monetary compensation for them, states are allowed laws to pass that excludes gay people from the very social institutions that would make them more stable and secure, and judges are more willing to give religious expression support PRECISELY because it hurts gay people.
Here you have an example of FOTF, willing to speak words they are unwilling to take responsibility or offer compensation for.
They are very, very lucky…and don’t even realize it.
Some people really don’t know when it’s high time to just shut up because it’s the right thing to do.
But doing right, isn’t on the agenda of FOTF in the first place.
Censoring religious (any) speech? That’s a scary proposition in my book. What you would really be censoring is the ideas they convey, and again that is no cure for this problem. I understand where you are trying to go by calling it “fighting words” or otherwise actionable under the law, but I don’t think that argument is valid. I’m a little uncomfortable with the laws as they exist concerning regulation of speech, in that they are too stringent already. It is not the job of the Government to stifle any ideas or beliefs, no matter how repugnant they may be. That some people may not like us because they believe those things is not the same as inciting a vicious mob to riot.
I think I know where you are coming from Regan, but I wholeheartedly disagree with this idea. I would encourage you to think long and hard about the results of such a policy, not the least of which is that it might backfire right in your (our) face.
David, I can understand where you are coming form in regards to the defence of free speech, but I also believe there are limits to it as well. How to define those limits, I’m not sure. I think the rhetoric that is spewed from many religious organizations crosses a fine line between free speech and incitement to hatred. Many of these groups indeed cross that line. I don’t actually see a whole lot of difference between the underhanded and vindictive tactics of FOF and the KKK. Is silencing going to make them go away? Unfortunately no, we are forced to endure their unwanted intrusions into our personal lives. I do not think that we are ever going to win any battles with the likes of the bigoted and homophobic, Focus on the Family. I really would just like to see them butt out of our affairs or take an approach that at least mimics being unbiased. If groups such as FOF were not so powerful and politically influential, I would simply ignore their disgusting hatred and unethical practices. However, since they do affect me personally and my community, I will counter them wherever I can. They are very subversive in my homeland, Canada, and operate largely through funding of hate groups. They are in the process of mounting an attack against gay and lesbian rights in Canada with a looming Federal Election using a couple of bigoted politicians. Their goal is to undermine our equality and remove hard earned marriage rights. The filthy hands of FOF are all over this campaign. I hope to see many counter-demonstrations and, hopefully, a few successful human rights complaints against these groups. Their campaigns and tactics have little to do with religious freedom, it is about power and money. It is time to put the brakes on this ever increasing and unprovoked attack on our community.
Are these people for real? How does any law in Sweden have any impact on the U.S.? Just compare our First Amendment with Sweden’s equivalent:
One sentence. One sentence that forbids our government from restricting ANY speech.
however, consists of four fundamental laws; the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.
The Freedom of the Press Act contains 14 chapters. Each chapter contains anywhere from 4-18 articles. The Swedish press is free, but…”other than because the content contravenes an express provision of law, enacted to preserve public order without suppressing information to the public.”
In other words the law overrides the Freedom of the Press in Sweden. Compared to the U.S. where the Constitutional protection of the press overrides the law.
The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression contains 11 chapters, each longer than the last. Similar to Freedom of the Press Act, this Act is freedom with restrictions.
FOF is obviously feeding on people’s ignorances. If more people in this country were Constitutional literate, then FOF wouldn’t even attempt to spread this idiotic rhetoric.
BTW, there is a huge difference between hate speech (protected) and hate speech used in the commission of a violent crime(not protected).
What will eventually silence FOF is the same thing that silenced the KKK. Freedom of speech. FOF will continue spreading their hatred, getting nastier and nastier. In response, our side will become more organized and thoughtful in our defense. Eventually, people will see FOF for what they are, hatemongers, and will instead turn to commonsense and reason. FOF will become a dirty word, just like the KKK. Unfortunately, this will not happen over night, it will be a long battle.
We have already seen progress to this end since this debate came to the forefront. Consider, that 10 years ago there was barely any recognition of same-sex unions. Today 4 countries recognize full marriage equality, plus 1 U.S. state. 16 countries recognize same sex civil unions plus 4 U.S. states.
Progress will continue, and FOF will have a hand in forwarding that progress.
You don’t have to convince me of the hatred involved in these organizations, and I wish you well in objecting to their influence of your civil processes in Canada. I’m just unwilling to chip away at one of the most fundamental rights we (at least in the US) have to try to muzzle them. I’m not a big fan of the ends justifying the means. As for the KKK, well their rantings are protected as well so it’s not like we are singling out FOTF, et al for this protection. The big difference as I see it is that the KKK and others of that mind have very little influence these days because society has gradually rejected that point of view as wrong. They still have all the rights to free speech they ever did, but people don’t listen much anymore. The same will happen with the anti-gay voice – it just takes time. Certainly any of us that have been around since the 70’s can see how far things have already come.
PS: Has anyone else ever read
James Dobson’s War On America? Quite an informative read by a (former) devoted insider who was around from the beginning. The guy was ostracised so there may be some distortion but it reads like a reasoned account. Check it out.
Wow, great minds think alike JayJay 🙂 I just wanted to note that I didn’t see your post before I submitted mine, but we were on the same track.
I think JayJay is right, the road to equality is paved with GLBT free speech. I wouldn’t rule out the actionable approach to fightin’ words either, though. Going after fairness is best done with a variety of approaches What’s slowing down the achievement of fairness is that for reasons incomphrehensible to me the religious right has had the stage to itself to “debate” the issue. “Family Scholars” Blog showed me these people loathe a free exchange of ideas and that is part but not all of it. Commentors at Exgay Watch have picked apart most if not all anti-gay justifications of the religious right and exposed it as blatant lies and distortions. It strikes me that it shouldn’t be a difficult job for the large gay rights organizations to use these examples to expose the malice and untruths of “Focus on the Family” et al, but yet they haven’t and it appears to be simply for lack of trying. Do gay rights organizations believe if they expose the lies and malice of some religious people somehow this will increase the public’s desire to reject and punish GLBTs? I don’t get it – $30 million seems like more than enough to make the seemingly easy case that the anti-gays are unfair and GLBT equality is deserved and righteous. Its now clear to me that you can’t have an honest debate with anti-gay religionists but certainly HRC and NGLTF can bypass them and talk directly to the public.
The FOTF does have the law on their side in freely EXPRESSING their religion.
No one is stopping them or would on that.
You can freely express your religion for YOURSELF, you can’t make the government choose it for other people in how they live their lives.
However, FOTF is engaged in restricting the freedoms of a selected people…and no religion should be allowed to do that.
Inevitably religious expression will exact prejudice and unequal treatment on groups they don’t like if they have the government involved.
Blacks suffered because of the ‘free expression’ of religious people.
Their religion forced the entire NATION to justify TERRIBLE social injustices.
And only now, since gay men and women are the easiest target, they are pulling this.
Not because being gay is destructive or that gay people can’t commit to behaving acceptably the way straight people do, but simply because of being gay.
I wouldn’t want to restrict religious expression either…especially the more innocuous ones, like all religious holidays, or certain forms of dress respected in schools and private businesses.
But when it comes to a single group being treated indecently, unfairly or brutally…then NO, you don’t get to express yourself without boundaries.
Religious people, if they want to keep their freedom, first and foremost have to remember they can’t restrict OTHER people on the same grounds.
Not for religious reasons, but reasons that are MUTUALLY decent, agreeable and socially practical.
Goes right back to the golden rule…every single time.
I don’t think Sweden is against free speech.At least, no more than anyone else who is against blatant slander. They also have, apparently, greater press freedom than the U.S. (or Austalia).They do, however, being a rather sober people, largely hold the view that screaming “But I’m religious” is no defense for being abusive and uncivil to others. The U.S., at times, I’d suggest, behaves very differently.Is a limit to pornography in public? I’d suggest you should also consider there is a limit to deliberate or ignorant abuse of minorities in public — inspired by your claimed religion or not.
For those who favor a restriction to allowable free speech, may I remind you:
When it comes time to pick the committee that decides what speech would be free, you won’t be selected. James Dobson might be.
So lets just keep all speech free (with the libel laws in place) and we’ll all be happier.
It is ironic that FOF is concerned about freedom of speech. Visit any of these hate sites and notice how many of them allow public comment. I have never seen one that allows the public to debate this issue. In other words they censor speech on this subject.
On our side, we welcome this debate, but the religious right is too scared to allow it. They know they are wrong and that they would never win.
I have E-mailed FOF on occation to question some of the misinformation they are propagating. I have never received a reply.
The other problem we face is that the Republican party in control are against us, and the Democratic party is too scared to tackle the issue because of the current political climate.
Well, there ya go JayJay.
FOTF is shutting down any way for opposing opinions, facts and information to be seen by other people who might visit their website.
I have been banished from DL Foster’s site and Throckmorton and Chad Thompson refuse to acknowlege that I said anything.
When you call FOTF, the AFA or ADF (Alliance Defense Fund-Christian legal arm that defends the rights of Christians), they are so strange.
They have their talking points, and can’t stray from them or have a normal conversation.
I start off with reasoned ethical questions that have NOTHING to do with gay marriage for example.
But maybe about the military service of gay people for example.
How ethical is it, to benefit from a group that is risking life and limb for the freedoms of the people of FOTF to bad mouth them…and yet, can’t have equal treatment at home to better help and secure their loved ones?
Including aging or cash strapped parents that might need the help and support of the job that soldier has, and if they have a significant other who is doing the caregiving in their place?
How is a family advocacy justified in hurting THIS family situation?
This impudent question is usually met with silence, throat clearing…
and if they answer it’s something like…’thanks for calling’.
Then they hang up…
I’m not trying to SILENCE FOTF…I want ANSWERS and for a group that insists they have all the answers and know the truth…when you finally DO ask…they silence themselves.
What kinds of questions were they expecting?
I’m still waiting for answers…and waiting and waiting and waiting…
Peter Winn repeats the common anti-gay religionist lie that preaching the bible is prohibited if preaching against GLBTs is rejected. The bible most certainly is not correctly summed up as opposition to same gender sex. If that was all the bible stood for it would be the most pathetic philosophy conceivable.
The bible makes scant mention of opposing same gender sex compared to the dozens, if not hundreds of times it refers in emphatic detail to God’s love of sincere animal sacrifice. That Christians don’t consider sincere animal sacrifice central to their freedom of religious speech shows how little they are concerned about preaching the bible compared to oppressing GLBTs.
Given I was born and baptised as a Catholic male I have just as much right to be Pope as anyone else. The bible says sincere animal sacrifice is part of God’s PERMANENT covenant with his people. It is my biblical understanding that as a “Judeo-Christian” I am obligated to honour God and Jesus with sincere animal sacrifices. I’d like to do this at the Whitehouse and invite all Christians of good faith to join me. What do you think are the odds that Dobson and his kind will support my right to free Christian religious expression and join me, nevermind resist opposing such an act. They twist scripture and say animal sacrifice is somehow not required – what part of “forever” don’t they understand? Surely if they are bible believing Judeo-Christians they’ll acknowledge that this is an acceptable and desirable display even though it supposedly isn’t biblicaly required by some wild stretch of the imagination.
To sum up, if animal sacrifice isn’t critical or even remotely important to freedom of biblical religious speech, then why is opposition to same gender sex? Cafeteria Judeo-Christians…pick and choose fundamentalists…liars, plain and simple.
That’s pretty funny, I coined the term “Pick and Choose Absolutist” in a post a while back.
That’s what I meant to refer to Dan, my memory of what you said was a little fuzzy. Pick and choose absolutists…
I’m glad I’m not alone in not getting answers from FOF. But the fact is that FOF doesn’t exsist to debate the subject matter. They are not open to opposition and to debate, because they do not want to have to change their views. They are a brainwashing operation.
As, Randi pointed out we have a strong debate on our side. But it does little good for us to debate each other. One way to reach people and have a debate that may result in change is to debate it on a site that is not specifically setup to advocate either side. As you read the thread, there will usually be an opprotunity to swing the conversation to GLBT issues. I have done this a couple times at WatchBlogThe debate usually takes off and you are reaching people who’s opinion really matters, the public at large. FOF and their supporters will never get it no matter what.
Having spent quite a few years immersed in the conservative evangelical lifestyle, I’m not so sure that the Focus on the Family types are really aware that they’re wrong about anything, at least consciously. I’ve referred to them as liars, too, but I’m becoming convinced that it’s counterproductive to do so.
I think the real problem is that they’ve reached all of their conclusions about life, the universe and everything before they begin weighing any evidence. (In theological terms this is called eisegesis, though no conservative theologian would ever admit to being an eisegete.)
Since they already have all of the answers (based on a reductionistic understanding of the nature of truth), any evidence that contradicts their conclusions is automatically wrong and therefore not worth considering, and anyone who promotes said evidence has been “blinded by Satan” and is therefore not worthy of being heard.
While it is possible to escape from that mindset (I did), it requires an overhaul of one’s entire worldview and doesn’t happen quickly.
Excellent job, Eugene. It occurred to me that this is what I despise in fudamentalist religion, the prejudice. Its the belief that I’m doing something wrong if I decide an issue for myself – that its wrong to question. Its a belief that all has been prejudged and it is a twisted justification for sifting through all the evidence that contradicts you to find the anomalies that support your viewpoint. Still, what kind of god intentionally creaztes Satan to deceive humans into eternal torture, not to mention allows all the other religions to successfully confuse his “truth” to the same end. And how many people honestly believe in magical things when the vast majority of even devoutly religious people’s experience is run-of-the mill and non-extraordianry? The only time I seriously entertained a belief in God(s) I was psychotic and slightly more confident it was space aliens, not god(s) accounting for the strange goings on I experienced like DL Foster described with Jesus poping out of the TV to talk to him. I’ve had miraculous experiences I still can’t explain in natural terms, it seems like the supernatural must be responsible. But I can weigh the evidence, seperate my emotional beliefs from the contradicting logical beliefs and say it was almost certainly mental illness, not Jesus who was responsible for the unexplainable.