Yes, you read that correctly.
If there’s one thing our politically correct culture has told us, it’s that we have the right to speak our minds unless, of course, someone gets offended.
But there’s so much misinformation and confusion about what free speech means, honestly to the point that liberals and conservatives routinely hold themselves and each other to different standards depending on who is offended by whom at what particular moment.
In an interesting twist this week, Christian author and TV personality Jen Hatmaker is facing the full fury of the conservative Christian fundamentalist right. Not for anything recent or overtly political, mind you, but for comments about homosexuality in itself.
She said that Christians and the church should embrace homosexual people, support them in their relationships and marriages, and that neither gay nor straight nor anyone was any less evil by themselves or more loved by God than anyone else.
Apparently, in our day and age, there isn’t a lot of room for neutrality on this issue. There isn’t much room for making general moral statements without getting drug into one side or the other of the culture war, either.
Following a Matt Walsh blog post and a viral series of attacks by the far right blogosphere, LifeWay, one of the largest Christian publishers in the country, has pulled all of her books. This is the part where people defend the original speaker.
Then comes the part when people offended by the original speaker are offended by those who defend them. Then the first group is offended by the offense of the second group. Ad infinitium, ad nauseam.
Let me just clear something up at the outset.
The First Amendment applies, legally speaking, to government action, not private action. If you own the TV station, publishing company, blog, or any other platform, you get to dictate who speaks and who doesn’t.
If LifeWay thinks their book sales are in danger, they can cut a controversial author out of the picture. They have no obligation to tie their reputation as a publisher to the views or actions of anyone. They equally have no obligation NOT to tie their reputation to someone.
That’s what Free Speech means. And it means you can shut down views you don’t agree with if they want to speak them through your platform.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with applying the spirit of Free Speech to private discrimination. If you think there’s too much private intolerance for different viewpoints in the world, fine. Just realize you’re not entitled to have the law on your side.
If you think it’s reprehensible that a Christian author thinks the church should love gay people, then contact her publishers. Make sure she gets ostracized. If you think it’s reprehensible that people think it’s reprehensible, then call her publishers and tell them to keep her on.
They’re businesses. They want your money, and they’ll adapt to what their customers demand or they’ll be replaced by someone who does.
That’s why there’s nothing wrong with Change.org petitions to take a show off the air, put a show back on the air, or anything you please. The beauty of the information age is that everyone is susceptible to public opinion.
The downside of the information age is that everyone is susceptible to public opinion.