Shutting Down Free Speech

 colson2It doesn’t pay to take your constitutional right to free speech seriously anymore—at least, not if you live in Oakland, California. There, a handful of African-American Christian women recently found out that their free speech rights had effectively been outlawed.

The women, who are Oakland government employees, had formed an organization called the Good News Employee Association. As their flyer put it, their group was “a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With Respect for the Natural Family, Marriage, and Family Values.” As columnist George Will relates, the women posted their flyer after other employee groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their activities on the city’s email system and bulletin board. When Good News asked for equal opportunity, they were told to forget it. City officials destroyed their flyer. They accused the women of Good News of being “determined to promote harassment based on sexual orientation. If the women posted any more flyers, or sent their message via email, the city warned, they would be disciplined and perhaps terminated. In effect, as Will notes, Oakland “has proscribed any speech that even one person might say questioned the gay rights agenda and therefore created what that person felt was a “hostile environment.” While homosexual rights groups used the city’s email system to advertise “Happy Coming Out Day,” the terms “natural family” and “marriage” and “family values” are considered intolerably inflammatory, he adds. This is why so-called “hate crimes” laws, like the one being considered by the U.S. Congress, are so dangerous. They can be used as a weapon to censor peaceful political speech that someone doesn’t like. The goal of homosexual groups is not to stop violence, or truly hateful speech; it’s to silence anyone who says that homosexual behavior is a biological disorder or a moral wrong. Mere disagreement is redefined as hate. The Good News group has gone to court over Oakland’s attack on their First Amendment rights, and the super-liberal Ninth Circuit Court, not surprisingly, has ruled against them. The group now hopes the Supreme Court will intervene. You and I need to be aware of attempts to encroach on our right to speak out against moral evils. We must also understand that this is ultimately a spiritual battle. The Bible and natural law teachings tell us that God’s law is written upon our hearts and are known to all. As Christian philosopher J. Budziszewski writes in his book The Revenge of Conscience, those who rationalize their sins find it to be so much work that they require other people to support them in it. Society itself must be transformed so that it no longer stands in awful judgment. This is why gay activist groups want to change the law to suppress any speech that identifies homosexual behavior as either a biological disorder or a moral wrong. You and I must pray for those who are caught up in homosexuality; their lives are tragic. But we must also remember that, as the Apostle Paul puts it, we must witness to the truth, no matter what human lawmakers say or do, because we owe our ultimate allegiance to the eternal lawgiver: God.
Today's BreakPoint Offer
Learn more about the Wide Angle worldview curriculum and how you can purchase it.  
For Further Reading and Information
George Will, “Valuing Speech,”, 24 June 2007. J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience (Spence, 2004). John Russo, “Debunking Will on Oakland Anti-Harassment,” The Argus, 4 July 2007. Haven Bradford Gow, “The Right to Freedom of Expression,” Liberty Magazine, July/August 2007. Larry Jacobs, “World Congress of Families Reacts to Allegation that the Words 'Natural Family' Constitutes Hate Speech,” Christian Newswire, 29 June 2007. Summary of proposed Hate Crimes Prevention Act prepared by the Alliance Defense Fund. John C. Rankin, “A Conversation with Homosexual Advocates: Taking a ‘Pro-Active’ Approach to Sin,” Breakpoint Online, 27 October 2003. Breakpoint Commentary No. 050816, “Words Matter: Combating Orwellian Distortions.” Breakpoint Commentary No. 940318, “No Such Thing as Free Speech: Debunking American Liberties.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary