Thursday, June 28, 2007
John Russo criticizes a George F. Will column. The factual claims below all come from Russo's column and I haven't even read the Will column, in order to make a point.
The Good News Employees Association was formed in response to an openly gay councilmember's e-mail inviting both gay and straight employees to support a National Coming Out day. Two Oakland city employees formed the association as "a forum for people of faith to express their views ... with respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values" and generated a flyer titled: "Preserve Our Workplace Integrity".So, what's the problem? Haha. Just kidding. Okay, so the problem is obvious.
The employees who drafted the flyer actually declared under oath that they wanted to inject their intolerant worldview into the workplace.OHMYGOD!!!! The issue? Certainly it's not the worldview-injection, since the councildude was doing that, too. I guess it's the "intolerant" part that's the issue. What makes it intolerant? I guess since doesn't tolerate open homosexuality or gay marriage or something. But then, neither did the councildude's piece tolerate the view that both of those things are wrong. So I guess the issue is that it was intolerant towards the wrong thing.
Supervisors reviewed the flyer and explained to the plaintiffs why the flyer had been removed. Will never tells his readers that the plaintiffs were invited to submit a new flyer without the discriminatory language.Because it doesn't matter? If the issue here is "political correctness," the fact that the supervisors told them they could write a new, "political correct" flyer doesn't really detract from the point.
Ultimately, the association wanted to use city time and resources to validate their personal neurosis -- which is that heterosexual marriage can only be validated by invalidating same-sex marriage.Aha! See, the same argument can't be made about the councildude using city time and resources to validate National Coming Out day because it's not a "neurosis." This is why it's okay to restrict the speech of those who disagree with us: They're crazy. They have to be. What other possible reason could they have for not agreeing with us? Therefore, their opinion isn't really an opinion, and there's no need to treat it like one.
Furthermore, the seemingly harmless flyer was not an isolated incident but part of a deliberate pattern of harassment.Ah, finally, we get to a legitimate argument. This kind of argument is fine with me, but it doesn't change the stuff that's already been said, which stands even without the harassment.
But you gotta love George Will and his ilk. With neither a hint of shame nor a shadow of a blush, those who denounce the use of "specious" lawsuits to dictate morality and who shed crocodile tears over the ways trial lawyers have "interfered" with the prerogatives of workplace management, will gladly race to the courthouse when it suits their dogmatic purposes.... Uh... yeah. I think one can hold the position that some types of lawsuits are specious while others are not without too much dissonance. Free speech is not "morality" that is to be "dictated" by the courts. It's a "right" that is to be "protected" by the courts. That's why we have courts. And since these are government employees, there is no issue with government "interference."
Anyway, Russo's piece is an excellent insight into the way attempts to limit speech as "harmful" gives way entirely into viewpoint censorship, which is exactly the kind of speech limitation the First Amendment is concerned with. The same can be said about those who argue it's okay for folks to shout down and attack speakers at college campuses because they have "dangerous" opinions. The philosophy that those with power can and should limit speech they find bad is an acceptable philosophy, I suppose, but the United States has a tradition which rejects that philosophy, and with good reason (because you can't fully trust "those with power").
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