Ben Johnson

Property destruction: the new ‘free speech’?

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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April 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life advocates, pro-family organizations, and traditional Christians do not expect to get a fair shake in the media, but the dogged, seasoned journalists of the prestige publications have overlooked a disturbing new trend: an increasing number of left-wing activists claim that destroying or defacing other people’s property is part of their First Amendment “free speech” rights.

At LifeSiteNews.com, I have reported on the desecration of a pro-life display at Western Kentucky University. After a campus pro-life group got university permission to set up 3,700 crosses to represent the number of children aborted every day, a student named Elaina Smith placed condoms over each one. When a pro-life student confronted her, Smith complained, “I think it’s kinda weird that you’re allowed to express yourself, and I’m not.” Her art instructor, Kristina Arnold, gave her permission to deface the crosses as an “art project,” defended her actions, and may give her college credit for her act of vandalism.

Earlier this month at Northern Kentucky University, pro-life students hung up baby clothes and marked every fourth one with an “X” – symbolizing that one of every four babies is aborted – only to have their work destroyed. One of the left-wing students who dismantled it, Kyle Pickett, told the Kentucky Post, “Tearing it down was expressing our right to free speech.”

The actions follow another incident at NKU in 2006, when women’s studies professor Sally Jacobsen was fired after she incited her students to tear down a pro-life display of crosses. In an Orwellian turn-of-phrase she admitted, “I did…invite students to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy the display if they wished to.” Her behavior was doubly acceptable, Jacobsen claimed, because her feelings were hurt. “Any violence perpetrated against that silly display was minor compared to how I felt when I saw it,” she whined. “Some of my students felt the same way, just outraged.”

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What Jacobsen, et. al, describe is not the exercise but the extinguishing of free speech. The notion that if someone objects to a message, he may prevent others from expressing it is formally known as a Heckler’s Veto and is a violation of the First Amendment.

And of course, vandalism is not “speech” at all. Destroying other people’s property is not a missive; it’s a misdemeanor. It is also thuggish, imperious, and fascistic.

One can hardly be surprised when such notions of entitlement to the use of force bleed over into, well, the use of force. On Tuesday, a group calling itself the “Angry Queers” threw rocks through 100-year-old stained glass windows at Mars Hill Church in Portland. Its crime? The pastor of another church, with which it happens to be affiliated, said homosexuality is a sin. The local pastor, Tim Smith, agrees but has reached out to the local homosexual community to find common ground.

The possibility of human harmony and reconciliation was more than the liberal activists could bear.

In the wee hours, masked protesters threw baseball-sized rocks through nine church windows, causing thousands of dollars in property damage. “We hope this small act of vengeance will strike some fear into the hearts of all of Mars Hill’s pastors,” they wrote in an e-mail to a Portland TV station. Although there are apparently two versions of their statement, both included the line, “The only dialog we need with scum like Mars Hill is hammers through their windows.”

No media source reported the homosexual activists’ intent to terrorize their political opponents, nor that they committed themselves to violence in perpetuity. In effect, Big Journalism’s gatekeepers collaborated with the extremists to make them look more mainstream.

Can one believe for a moment if a pro-life organization – “The Fetus Fanatics,” let’s say – had thrown bricks through an abortion mill’s windows, dropped the f-bomb on any Christian who talked to the other side, then incited further violence, the media would be so docile?

Reporters in the liberal media have detected 50 of the last zero acts of “pro-life terrorism,” and zero of the last four anti-Christian hate crimes. After a certain critical mass, one has to assume the oversight is intentional. 

As these rage- and bigotry-fueled acts go unreported, and unpunished, one has to wonder: What will their perpetrators do next?

It’s All Been Done Before

The other side believes it has the inalienable right to silence speech of which it disapproves and to destroy property used in the commission of thoughtcrime. What is the next step – breaking up pro-life meetings like the brown-shirts of old, so the other side cannot express itself in the first place?

Sadly, that has already been done. Extremists have been invading and shutting down Right to Life meetings all year. Occupy Wall Street interrupted the March for Life Youth Rally in Washington, D.C., and threw condoms at Catholic school girls at a pro-life event at the Rhode Island statehouse. The campaign of intimidation is well underway.

If we are already to that point, what will come next? The right to batter, maim, or kill someone whose speech might offend you? As remote as it seems, recent history teaches us the rationale for war creeps inexorably from defense toward preemption. If social mores allow you to attack someone after an offense, why wait until it is inflicted?

That, too, is already a reality.

The right to preemptively kill another person, not only for inflicting harm but who may potentially inconvenience you in any way, is already legal. It’s called abortion.

The self-centered disdain for others is the logic that ties the action and its advocacy into one seamless, violent continuum.

As this month’s entitled acts of desecration prove, their disrespect for others and pursuit of autonomy at any price does not end at birth.

This article originally appeared on TheRightsWriter.com and is reprinted with permission.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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