- - Thursday, February 28, 2013

OPINION/ANALYSIS:

Liberals love the First Amendment. Except when they hate it.

Recently I wrote in my regular Washington Times Monday column, “How To Save Your Family,” a piece lamenting the confusion created by gender-bending fashion models and the emerging sentiment that little children somehow show their true, transgendered selves when they show “inquisitiveness about the other sex, and all the trappings of male or female life.” I cited a leading expert on children and gender dysphoria, Kenneth Zucker, who believes that children who seem confused about their gender identity should enter therapy with the goal to “understand themselves better” and figure out “what might be causing them to develop what I call a ‘fantasy solution,’ that being the other sex will make them happy.”

I ended my column by encouraging parents to affirm their child’s masculine or feminine identity, because “God made us male and female and that’s something to celebrate.”

And for speaking that truth, the homosexual activists have mounted a vicious campaign to silence me.

The Washington Times is under attack for carrying my column. The paper has been barraged by demands from homosexuals/transgenders and their supporters that my column be banned. And my inbox has been flooded by hateful mail from this same crowd who seek to intimidate and silence me. It’s ironic that my critics exercise their free speech by writing the publisher and using the media to criticize my words, but would deny me the same rights.

This is what passes for tolerance in Obama’s America?

I’ve seen this before. It’s not the first time the homosexual lobby has tried to shut me down.

Last year, I spoke in Australia at an event celebrating National Marriage Day where I warned against the dangers of destroying the concept of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. My speech prompted outrage from homosexuals and calls for me to be silenced for my “damaging” remarks.

The left’s intimidation campaign shows no respect for our First Amendment right to free speech — or for the rights of all Americans. They want to gag anyone who rises in the public square to speak against sexual immorality (or even to criticize liberal fiscal policy). Whether it’s reciting biblical injunctions against homosexual behavior or encouraging parents to teach their children traditional moral views, or arguing the morality of record spending deficits, it’s all got to go — according to the intolerant left.

Homosexual activists strike a particularly strident tone that goes something like this: If it’s hurtful, it’s hateful, so shut up. And if you don’t, we’ll sue you, call you names, run you out of town, and take away your right to speak.

It’s the same campaign of intolerance and intimidation that enraged homosexuals have carried out against the Boy Scouts, businesses like Chick-fil-A, radio talk show hosts and religious leaders.

A few years ago, FamilyTalk (www.MyFamilyTalk.com) radio host and world-renowned psychologist James Dobson predicted that hate-crimes legislation would “be the first step to criminalize our rights as Christians to believe that some behaviors are sinful.” (Full disclosure: I serve on the board of Mr. Dobson’s organization.) Well, just this past week, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that criticisms of homosexual behavior are not protected under Canadian free-speech laws and can be considered hate speech. Incredibly, the Canadian judges ruled that “courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct could stand as a proxy for attacks on the group itself.”

But not in America, right?

Right now, the illiberal left is engaged in unprecedented attempts to shut down the exercise of free speech in this country. Instead of embracing the public square as a forum to debate the merits of competing ideas, the voices of intolerance would ban “offensive” arguments and ideas precisely because they do oppose the “party” line.

Isn’t that what totalitarian governments do?

It’s worth considering the value of our Constitution and how fragile our freedoms really are. Will our younger generation, unschooled in constitutional history, jump on the “tolerance means you can’t hurt my feelings” bandwagon?

Or will they realize that our freedoms — all our freedoms — are secured by the right to speak freely in public, to make our best case on contested issues, and to try and change minds and hearts? Will they remember that freedom is conditioned, at a basic level, on respect for others? That each person has an equal right to his or her own opinion and an equal right to express it? And that no matter how loudly the voices of intolerance clamor, or how viciously they try to silence opposing viewpoints, our society must honor the free-speech rights of all?

If we hope to remain a free people, these are truths we must live by.

• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@howtosaveyourfamily.com.

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