Friday, September 24, 2004

Slimy Mailings

"The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that "liberals" seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush."


But Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, argued, "We have the First Amendment in this country which should protect churches, but there is no question that this is where some people want to go, that reading from the Bible could be hate speech."

Still, Mr. Land questioned the assertion that Democrats might ban the whole Bible. "I wouldn't say it," he said. "I would think that is probably stretching it a bit far."

This is so ridiculous it hardly bears saying. No one is going to criminalize a form of speech, particularly religious speech.


Blogger Myunque said...

I am not so sure of that. Not that an intelligent person would ban religious speech, but we are talking about the people in charge.

The scenario is that certain forms of religious speech are incendiary - say your average islamist (not Muslim) cleric. Well, we like to be fair and balanced, so we pass a law or have a judicial verdict that says that while religious speech is protected some can be the equivalent of shouting, "fire in a crowded theatre". One could argue (incorrectly) that Christianity is inherently anti-Semitic, ergo bordering on hate speech or at least having the potential to incite others to hate.

Oh, I don't think a vote for Kerry will do anything of the sort, but our government is full of fuzzy thinking on both sides.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Thanks for your comment. I largely agree, but there is a rather large step between limitations on certain provocative, incendiary speech and banning the bible.

A legislature would never pass such a bill. With over 90% of Americans describing themselves as religious, the Democrats would be swept out of office for 50 years if not totally destroyed by such a bill.

No sane executive would sign it, either.

But even assuming that both of those highly improbable things happened, free exercise doctrine would result in the courts throwing that law out at light speed, since there is neither a compelling state interest in completely banning religious texts, nor a way to do it that is facially neutral, as the doctrine requires.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Oh, and I forgot the second part of that comment. A limited measure banning incendiary speech that incites people to violence, conversely, can be justified as serving a compelling state interest (preventing violent crime) without a serious burden to the religion.

6:51 PM  

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