The Silly and Dangerous Things Senators Say

 

Senator Tammy BaldwinReimagining the First Amendment:

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) says the 1st Amendment’s religious liberty protections don’t apply to individuals.

On MSNBC last week, Wisconsin’s junior Senator claimed that the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion extends only to religious institutions, and that individual’s do not have a right to the free exercise of their own religion.

The exact quote form Senator Baldwin is somewhat less dramatic but more worrisome:

Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. But I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.

So you can have freedom of religion in Sen. Baldwin’s America, you just have avoid talking about your religious views in public. It’s a definition of freedom so narrow it could easily fit within the confines of an authoritarian state. Even the nominally communist oligarchs who rule China don’t really care what you think, so long as you don’t offend the party with your words.

What is being established, under the cover of the gay marriage debate, is a new set of hate crime laws directed at Americans of faith. The Left has done a superb job of framing this issue as one about the rights of homosexuals. This automatically paints any critics as bigots regardless of their personal values or beliefs. Once the dust settles gay marriage will be an established legal and cultural fact. What will become apparent shortly thereafter is that freedom of speech has been dramatically narrowed in modern America.

The issue here isn’t about gay marriage. It has nothing to do with baking a cake or providing contraceptives. The vital issue is freedom of speech. If the pharmacist cited in Sen. Baldwin’s example refuses to fill a prescription, but does not say why, then he cannot be convicted of this new type of hate crime. However if the pharmacist refuses to fill out a prescription, but truthfully says he does so on religious grounds, then he has committed a hate crime. The expression of an idea is being punished, not the action or inaction of the participants.

Sen. Baldwin’s fictional pharmacist, along with the cake bakers of Oregon, are now to be guilty of thought crimes. Once that wedge has been established in First Amendment jurisprudence other forms of freedom of speech will follow. Each step along the way, the cry of “fighting bigotry” will be raised. Note the remarkable speed with which the Confederate flag became a political third rail. That rapid and ruthless process will soon be repeated on symbols, words and ideas far less historically contentious.

Much of this debate will hinge on the deliberately vague term “hate crime.” Since hate is a subjective emotion anything can be deemed hateful or offensive. The very idea of a hate crime makes a mockery of the rule of law. If consistently implemented it would transform America into a government of neurotic men instead of objectively definable laws. Yet the popular perception of “hate crime” is of a violent act motivated by bigotry.

This bait-and-switch was practiced in Canada for decades. The regime of soft censorship which emerged eventually culminated in the prosecution of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn. Levant, a well known conservative writer and publisher, was prosecuted for three years for publishing the notorious Danish cartoons in a magazine he once owned. Mark Steyn went through similar travails over an article entitled The Future Belongs to Islam.

Both prosecutions were carried out under Canada’s hate crime laws; Levant being pursued by the Alberta Human Rights Commission and Steyn by both its Ontario and federal counterparts. In the end both Steyn and Levant were victorious and the powers of these commissions greatly curtailed. But it was touch-and-go at times.

In the early years of Canada’s hate crime laws they were mainly used to prosecute a small collection of derelict neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and holocaust deniers. Having vanquished such grave threats to the peace and security of Canada the country’s Human Rights Commissions suddenly became important. Over the span of a few years, these commissions were easily manipulated by a tiny group of activists to silence mainstream conservative critiques of Islamist ideology.

What was done north of the 49th parallel in the name of fighting Islamophobia will, in due time, be attempted further south under the rubric of fighting anti-homosexual bigotry. The obvious target will be America’s most vocal Christian churches. The tactics change but the ultimate goal remains the same: To established an informal system of censorship in traditionally free societies.

Don’t for a moment believe that the First Amendment is a firewall. Constitutions are no stronger or better than the people who interpret them. Your freedom of speech rests not on the wisdom of the Founders but on the caprice of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the political intriguing of Chief Justice John Roberts.

Hopefully in the battle ahead America will have no shortage of fighters like Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. user_1830 Coolidge
    user_1830
    @HerrForce1

    Richard Anderson: Even the nominally communist oligarchs who rule China don’t really care what you think, so long as you don’t offend the Party with your words.

    Your observation quoted above succinctly summarizes what I’ve observed for years regarding political correctness. It’s not enough for the citizen/subject to comply. He or she must affirm and cheer the approved orthodoxy. Tom Nichols’ essay in the Federalist zeroes in on this issue. As Nichols notes, in many ways “The New Totalitarians are Here.”

    • #1
  2. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    I can’t keep up with these disingenuous, amoral jackwagons! Wasn’t the argument in the Hobby Lobby case that it only applied to individuals and not corporately?

    • #2
  3. Yeah...ok. Inactive
    Yeah...ok.
    @Yeahok

    Disingenuous, amoral jackwagons!
    This is a strong. Clearly a challenge to Feckless Crap Weasel.

    Can you do a Bad Pour, Rusty Rebar lacking aggregate something?

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @OldBathos

    The fundamental problem is that average Americans are not used to the idea that all of the institutions they look to and rely upon (government, judiciary, academia, entertainment, news media) are on the other side.

    Leftists have always begun with the idea that they are outsiders who need to subvert and conquer institutions. Conservatives can’t yet grasp the fact that all centers of power in their country are openly hostile to majoritarian views on patriotism, moral values etc. We are the outsiders.

    It is important for our new masters to conceal our majority status from us. Exclusion and caricature are standard weapons. Thomas Sowell does not exist. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News only preach hate. Dissent is a form of hate. Conventional religion is hate. Resenting thugs, illegal invaders or jihadis is hate.

    I suspect the vitriol directed at the GOP nominee this year will be unlike anything we have seen before. The need to suppress any questioning of the new order now that it is fully ascendant is strong.

    Conversely, a disciplined candidate who speaks candidly about our new masters and the true nature of their rule can ignite a powerful firestorm and win.

    • #4
  5. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Yeah…ok.:Disingenuous, amoral jackwagons! This is a strong. Clearly a challenge to Feckless Crap Weasel.

    Can you do a Bad Pour, Rusty Rebar lacking aggregate something?

    Too wet concrete, no rebar having, broken down so and so!

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    If a pharmacist has no right to choose which drugs they will dispense, does that mean a grocer or a department store has no right to decide which products to stock on their shelves, and therefore everybody who opens any sort of store that resells goods to the public MUST sell firearms?

    • #6
  7. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    The good Senator has it all wrong, of course, and her statement bears witness:

    Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled..?

    Of course, if a pharmacist decides not to fill a prescription based on their personal religious views, they are not deciding whether it should be filled or not. They are simply deciding that it should not be filled by them.

    I believe this is a critical distinction, and people like Sen. Baldwin fail to make it.

    • #7
  8. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    On behalf of Wisconsin, I apologize for Tammy Baldwin.

    (Not really. She’s a creature of Madison. Which is like saying “She’s a creature of the crazy, unhinged, diseased, left-wing mindset that elected her.” And since I’m not of their ilk, I can’t really apologize.)

    • #8
  9. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Wow. But then, we shouldn’t be surprised. These are the same people that said the Second Amendment right to bear arms had nothing to do with the right to own a gun.

    • #9
  10. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    She is an obvious product of public schools.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    There is no question: the left will be coming after religious people. It’s only a matter of time.

    • #11
  12. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Richard Anderson: The regime of soft censorship which emerged eventually culminated in the prosecution of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn. Levant, a well known conservative writer and publisher, was prosecuted for three years for publishing the notorious Danish cartoons in a magazine he once owned. Mark Steyn went through similar travails over an article entitled The Future Belongs to Islam. Both prosecutions were carried out under Canada’s hate crime laws; Levant being pursued by the Alberta Human Rights Commission and Steyn by both its Ontario and federal counterparts. In the end both Steyn and Levant were victorious and the powers of these commissions greatly curtailed. But it was touch-and-go at times.

    My favorite part about the Mark Steyn lawsuit with the Human Rights Commission* in Canada was that the “hate speech” he was accused of was a direct quote from an Imam who had predicted that Islam would win out because Muslims “Breed like mosquitos”.

    *Totally random aside – just noticed that the Human Rights Commission has the same initials as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    • #12
  13. user_358258 Member
    user_358258
    @RandyWebster

    Old Bathos: Dissent is a form of hate.

    And here I always thought it was the highest form of patriotism. I guess I didn’t get the memo.

    • #13
  14. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    That’s how Jews lived in Central Europe in the 1800s. Live like a Jew at home and a citizen outside.

    • #14
  15. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    It is nice to know that the two idiots elected from my state, Washington, (actually the Puget Sound basin) aren’t the two dumbest members of the Senate.

    • #15
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Eugene Kriegsmann:It is nice to know that the two idiots elected from my state, Washington, (actually the Puget Sound basin) aren’t the two dumbest members of the Senate.

    I saw a poll several years ago of Senate staffers that picked Patty Murray as the dumbest member of the Senate.

    But of course that was before the people of my state elected Ms Baldwin.

    • #16
  17. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    It seems that Ms. Baldwin did for Patty Murray what Obama did for Jimmy Carter. My deepest sympathies to you and to other sufferers in your state. I know too well the frustration of letters sent to members of my congressional delegation which are answered with the usual Liberal boilerplate BS.

    • #17

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