Hippies Turn against Free Speech

newsphotos-hippies.02.27.17

Do you remember the good old days, when liberals believed in the freedom of speech? The University of California Berkeley is arguably the birthplace of the free speech movement. Indeed, beginning in 1960’s UC Berkeley was one of the epicenters of powerful counter cultural movements that spawned the hippies and a radical commitment to question, protest and overthrow existing authority structures with a robust commitment to the freedom of speech. The ACLU and other free speech advocates often took to quoting Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Now, Berkeley has ironically become one of the centers of free speech suppression.

What a difference a few decades make! Now that some of the very same individuals who were leading protests in the 60’s and 70’s have matriculated, and have grown up to teach and lead institutions of higher education, many have decidedly turned against the First Amendment’s promise of the freedom of expression. Now that the liberal elites control these institutions, they seek to abuse their power by aggressively turning against all free thought and speech that would dare question now-entrenched leftist orthodoxies or undermine their ability to seamlessly indoctrinate the next generation with collectivist leftist group-think. There are now two classes of speech on most American college campuses: politically correct liberal speech, which is allowed, and politically incorrect conservative speech, which is not.

The clear message to everyone paying attention is that academic elites will only permit ideas and speech with which they agree, but will target for eradication ideas and speech with which they personally disagree. The dominant target for thought and speech suppression on college campuses today is all things conservative, especially ideas informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview. Completion of their radical decades-long revolution apparently means they now must actively suppress, punish, and silence thoughts and words that do not perfectly align with the now institutionally entrenched leftist worldview.  But if the freedom of speech means anything, it certainly does not mean that some speech is more “free” than others or that the state can support speech it likes and obliterate speech it doesn’t.

This decidedly dark Orwellian trend was highlighted recently when Milo Yiannopoulos, a very controversial Trump supporter and an openly gay member of the right, was invited by the campus Republican Club to speak and UC Berkeley.  More than 100 “tolerant” faculty members referring to Milo’s presentations as “harassment, slander, defamation, and hate speech” signed a letter demanding that the University cancel the event. Protestors clad in black clothing and masks smashed windows, set fires, and pepper-sprayed a young female Trump supporter in the face, while carrying posters and signs claiming, quite ironically, that Milo is a “fascist.” Rather than protecting Milo and his speech, UC Berkeley officials and police folded like a cheap suit, allowing the protesters to prevail in their “heckler’s veto” by canceling Milo’s talk. Unfortunately, Berkeley is not alone. Ben Shapiro’s event at UCLA faced similar opposition recently. But, as Yale Law Professor Jose Cabranas pointed out in the Washington Post, “No one can doubt that we should strive for civility. But problems arise when we are told that “uncivil” speech has made a campus “unsafe” — and that university officials should make a campus safe again by punishing uncivil speakers.”

As George Orwell wrote, “If freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Yet, today in our universities, once the bastions of the freedom of thought and expression, the Freedom of Speech is being destroyed, sacrificed on the false altars of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” “hate speech” and all other forms of mind-numbing snow-flakery. Academic freedom increasingly means liberty only for liberals. Conservatives need not apply or should at least remain silent.

This is no small matter. Our very freedom and the continuation of our republic are at stake. As a conservative constitutional attorney, I do not always agree with former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. However, I must wholeheartedly agree with Warren’s prediction about the republic-ending threat of political correctness when he wrote that either “teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and evaluate,” or “our civilization will stagnate and die.” (Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957”)).  Benjamin Franklin agreed that the “freedom of speech is a principal pillar of government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected in its ruins.”

Yes, the freedom of speech includes religious speech. But in this hostile environment, many believers have stopped talking about God and sharing the gospel. Why? Fear of man—fear of retribution. Yet, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so elegantly wrote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” George Washington warned, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Although liberals have lost their love of free speech, we must be different – if not for ourselves, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Let us this day, as free Americans, commit to steadfastly oppose every authority, government, or other influence, that seeks to suppress, destroy, or silence the freedom of speech. Long live the freedom of speech!

California to Christian Colleges: Bow to the idol of sexual liberty, or perish!

SB 1146 Testimony

Religious liberty is on the political chopping block in California. Two heinous bills, targeting California’s religious colleges and universities for legislative destruction, have been silently slithering their way though the halls of the state Capital.  They accomplish liberty-stripping, conscience-decimating goals by first, blocking student aid at  faithful private secondary institutions, and, second, opening the floodgates of financially crippling litigation, giving liberal judges the power to control internal religiously rooted student and personnel policies.

We have been warning Christians that the radical LGBT agenda’s goal is not to embrace diversity and peacefully coexist in a harmonious state of inclusive tolerance with Biblical Christianity.  Their goal is simply to force us to adopt and embrace their vision of radical sexual liberty or to silence us completely–period.  We predicted they would first target Christian businesses, would next attack Christian ministries and educational institutions, and finally finish off churches and pastors.  I wish we were wrong!

California’s assault started several years ago when California adopted Education Code § 66250 et seq. (the Equity in Higher Education Act), which mandated colleges and universities not discriminate on the basis of “gender expression” and “sexual orientation.”  However, as is true with similar federal laws, California’s religious colleges could claim a broad institutional exemption if the application of the law would not be consistent with the religious tenets of the organizations.  But the golden state’s far-left legislature did not wait long to tighten the noose around the necks of Christian Colleges.

In early 2016, AB 1888 was introduced.  This horrific legislation seeks to cut off state and federal funding of Christian colleges by requiring all institutions participating in the Cal Grant program to certify they will not discriminate with regard to students or employees on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. It would also prohibit current Title IX waivers from the US Dept. of Education if the college participates in the Cal Grant program.

SB 1146, following closely on the heels of AB 1888, has the potential of effectively “finishing off” faithful Christian colleges and universities, even if they opt out of federal and state financial aid.  This draconian legislation would radically narrow, if not destroy the existing exemption for religious institutions.  If this bill passes, only schools controlled by religious institutions could claim a religious exemption, but only narrowly, essentially only protecting for their religious study’s departments (ministerial or theological training programs)!  When read in conjunction with existing legislation, SB 1146 coerces religious colleges to choose between keeping their financial aid and abandoning their religiously rooted personnel and student policies.  In other words, bow or die!

Many Christian colleges are pervasively religious—because faith and learning are fully integrated in all subjects. Indeed, the scriptures declare that, in fact, everything is religious or theological, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it….” (Psalm 24:1 (NIV)). Therefore, trying to make clear distinctions between the secular and sacred at these institutions is both a very foolish and invasive effort.  But SB 1146 gives judges the power to pierce the existing religious bubble of protection, inquire into the various programs at Christian colleges, decide what programs are “religious,” and allow lawsuits to proceed and injunctions issues to stop or control activities deemed sexually discriminatory.

Among the parade of hypothetical horribles, SB 1146 would conceivably allow a biological male, who subjectively believes he is a girl, to sue a Christian college that insists he reside in the male dorm—to sue for gender identity “discrimination” be awarded damages, and obtain an injunction ordering the school to allow him quarter in the girl’s dorm, bathrooms, and showers. This would allow a professor, living with his or her same-sex partner, to sue if terminated.

The attempt to cut off state and federal funding to Christian colleges, granting the “right” to sue and financially cripple institutions, and obtain injunctions to curb “discriminating” religious decisions may be the beginning of the end for biblically faithful Christian colleges.  These egregious bills are the latest example of sexual liberty steam-rolling and crushing religious liberty and are an existential threat to Christian colleges and universities. If we can’t stop them here in California, they may be soon coming to a state near you. These institutions are essentially being told:  either bow to the new American idol of sexual liberty, or watch your institution be “legally” burned at the stake.  This is not a choice, this is tyranny.

These bills are another example of sexual liberty crushing religious liberty and are a direct existential threat to Christian colleges, attempting to force them to embrace the LGBT agenda, even if it contradicts sincerely held religious beliefs and rights of conscience. The NCLP is actively involved with a broad coalition of California and national organizations working to stop AB 1888 and SB 1146.  NCLP Chief Counsel Dean Broyles testified against SB 1146 at the Senate Judiciary Committee in Sacramento on April 19, 2016.