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.”

Click ‘like’ if you are PRO-LIFE!

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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

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By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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