Brother Tatsuo is a man who likes to talk about his best friend, Jesus, outside the Torrance, California, Department of Motor Vehicles. He talks with anyone who wishes to engage and leaves alone those who do not. While talking in February, he was surrounded by police, handcuffed, and arrested. He was charged with what amounted to offending someone by speaking about God in front of a government office.
Brother Tatsuo retained attorneys from Pacific Justice Institute, but the judge abruptly dropped all charges. Someone figured out it is not a crime to exercise First Amendment rights in front of the DMV. My question is whether Brother Tatsuo will now sue the Torrance Police for false arrest and assault under color of authority. I think he should. I think he should because I think we should all be sick and tired of being harassed by officials who neither know nor care what the law actually says.
I think we should be just as sick and tired of wimp demagogues like Al Sharpton who encourage riots and then leave town for the next racial hot spot they can find. I would like to see him in jail – inciting to riot is actually a crime in most places – or bankrupted in civil court for the damage he causes to many lives before escaping what he foments. Speech like his – exhorting and encouraging crime – is not protected under the First Amendment, nor should it be.
I would like to see Dan Savage, the gay activist who loves to mock and bully high schoolers when they are a captive audience, lose his television program and live on unemployment checks. His repulsive speech is constitutionally protected, but so is my call to shun the man and his bigotry toward any who disagree with him. I am betting he is not so brave when he doesn’t have paid security all around him.
I would like to see sued the wimp city officials in New York, Baltimore, and Oakland who ordered police to stand down during recent rioting in those cities because they wanted to limit the violence to mere burning of buildings and businesses. I would like to see those officials living on welfare and in the projects so they would know what it is to be afraid to close their eyes at night. Free speech and faith is a right for Americans and for Christians; wimp officials who hide in their high rise government offices should lose what they gain when they refuse to protect those rights.
Kirsten Powers is anything but a wimp. A left-leaning pundit, the Fox News contributor and USA Today columnist calls her friends “the illiberal left” and accuses them of hijacking free speech and expression in her book “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” She cites the smear campaign against Chic Fil A President Dan Cathy for daring to say he supported traditional marriage; this was more a mob than a government action, although the mayors of several cities illegally declared Chic Fil A unwelcome in their cities. She refers to government-owned universities expelling Christian clubs from campus – this has been wholesale in California and present in other states – for expressing their beliefs. Returning to the private sector, we find the firing of Brandon Eich as head of Mozilla for making a contribution to Proposition 8; bouncing back to the government sandbox, we note the persecution of military chaplains like the highly decorated Wes Modder for expressing their faith to their flocks. Whether the government or the activist mob, the attitude is: “We know what you need to hear, and we will permit only what we endorse to be spoken.”
Reality is that free speech and faith amendments are not in place to protect what people want to hear, but to guarantee the right to speak what some do not want to hear. Whether the speech and expression is correct or incorrect – short of fraud – is irrelevant to any discussion of these rights. But more important is the obligation we have to place responsibility where it belongs.
I hear speakers and writers every day decrying what the left will not let them say. (By the way, when I was a boy in the good old fifties, it was the right in power and the disciples of Joe McCarthy suppressing free speech; it is ugly and wrong in any form.) I don’t blame the suppressers of speech; I blame and hold accountable the wimps who have something to say and permit themselves to be bullied into resentful silence. Freedom is ours – to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin and every biblical prophet – if we have the courage to keep it.
When I testified against SB 128 before a state senate committee, I was booed by some two hundred supporters of the bill when I said we Californians have blood on our hands and are hellbent on adding more. I was accosted and insulted by one witness for the other side and glared at by many. Big Whup! It is time for we-who-have-something-to-say to man up – or woman up – and say it. Spare me the complaining.
The truth is I don’t really wish evil on anyone. I want to see the evils and the perpetrators I described earlier stopped, not punished, and certainly not destroyed. I serve a God whose will is that none perish. I choose to live in the tension between God’s call to confront evil wherever it rises and the recognition we contend not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in non-material realms, as St. Paul (that always contentious apostle) states so clearly. When I fail in that choice, I repent and ask God for a do-over. I can only really appreciate this as a Christian, and one whose old nature is ever ready to take over if I permit it to rule. But by His grace, I can speak what I am called to speak and bless without prejudice. That grace under pressure is what is needed in this season of desperate aggression and easy cowardice.
Once a while back, I was leading a prayer team through the streets of Downtown Redding. We stopped in front of the Old City Hall, which is now the city-owned home of the Arts Council. As we prayed blessings on the building, staff, and even the pagan statue in front of it (what God blesses He transforms), a staffer came boiling out of the building demanding to know what we were doing. When I explained we were praying on this public sidewalk, he demanded we stop because of the separation of church and state. I explained that this separation is exactly why we have every right to pray in public walks and other places. He began waving his arms around and again demanded we cease prayers in front of his building. This time, I said: “But we only wish to bless you.” When he growled that he did not want our blessing, I smiled and said: “Too late.”
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth