The windbags of the Christian Right often claim that Christians are being persecuted as part of their demagoguery used to shake down money from the ignorant and uninformed. Sadly, the news media generally gives these professional Christians a pass and never challenges their experts or asks hard questions that, if asked, would cause the Christianist story line to begin to unravel. Fortunately, the same rules do not apply in litigation in court cases and the experts cannot avoid cross-examination that can readily expose their lies and/or demonstrate that their claims boil down to nothing more than religious based bigotry and animus.
Instead, today's Christian extremists if they have their way would plot, scheme and work to take away the civil legal rights of others hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Unfortunately, a new Newsweek article plays to the Christianists advantage by yet again mouthing their lies with little serious challenge.
While the article does quote Justice Antonin Scalia's statements that democracy requires some courage, the piece fails to rise to serious reporting. Here are some highlights:
One of the hot new trends in litigation this year is fear. Witnesses in important gay-rights cases have claimed they were too afraid to testify because they feared they would be subject to reprisals for their views. It's one thing to hear this kind of talk from eyewitnesses in gang shootings. But now it has become a common complaint among opponents of gay rights who say they are afraid to take part in civic life.
The conservative majority of the [U.S. Supreme] court sympathized with the anti-gay-marriage witnesses even though, as Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in dissent, these terrified witnesses were "experts or advocates who have either already appeared on television or Internet broadcasts." The trial went dark.
In mid-January, when the supporters of Prop 8 cut their witness list from six to just two, they again said that their witnesses were too afraid to testify.
This spring the Supreme Court heard another case involving frightened citizens in Washington state. They had successfully campaigned to put a referendum on the ballot that would have allowed voters to reverse a state law granting certain benefits to domestic partners. After the measure was defeated, the group that pushed for it asked the Supreme Court to keep the 138,000 signatures on the ballot petitions private. Their argument was based heavily on the harassment suffered by proponents of California's Proposition 8. James Bopp, who argued for the ballot signatories, warned the court that gay-rights activists planned to post the names of anyone who had signed a petition on the Internet.
While he acknowledged that threats of violence and hate mail can be scary, Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed concerns that one's political opponents are just a mouseclick away from hunting you down as "touchy-feely, oh-so-sensitive" and warned that "you can't run a democracy this way, with everybody being afraid of having his political positions known."
The same folks who oppose making signatures public are waging a war to do away with campaign-finance rules that would require disclosing the names of campaign donors. They argue that all such moves expose contributors to intimidation. Justice Clarence Thomas agreed in a concurring opinion in the court's blockbuster campaign-finance case: "I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in 'core political speech,'" he wrote.
It's pretty sad that those who would readily denigrate the lives of others, take away constitutional rights of others and spread hatred in general are being coddled as if they were the victims. It is also a very frightening development for the political future of the nation if groups are allowed to secretly conspire and inject religion into the civil laws without having to every reveal their identities.