If there's one thing religious nutbars absolutely do not comprehend, it's the concept of "free speech," as we can see here. Let's briefly set the stage:
... To come to the rest of the "mirror image" point, let's turn briefly to the case of Chris Kempling. He, after all, represents a case which, at first glance, appears totally related to free speech.
Kempling is the Quesnel, BC, public school counselor who was censured by both his local school board and the BC College of Teachers (the accrediting group for that province's public school system). His apparent departure from the college's professional standards came about because he wrote several letters to a local newspaper, criticizing gay and lesbian lifestyles.
The college maintained that his public criticism placed him in conflict, by hampering his ability to deal empathetically with gay and lesbian students who came to him for counseling.
Let's first understand that this situation is not primarily an issue of free speech, Rather, it's an issue of Kempling being an ignorant, bigoted dumbfuck who is hopelessly unqualified for that particular job.
I can't believe I have to explain this but, as a public school counselor, it would be Kempling's responsibility to counsel all students who might be having problems. That would, of course, include gays or lesbians, for whom that stage of life would be particularly traumatic and emotionally trying. It's hard to see how those students could even imagine going to Kempling for advice after he'd publicly, in the local newspaper, criticized gay and lesbian lifestyles.
As you can see, this has nothing to do with free speech. Kempling is simply unqualified for the position of counselor, in the same way that someone would be unqualified for the position of, say, math teacher if they didn't know any math. This is not a difficult concept. If you clearly dislike gays and lesbians, it's not going out on a limb to suggest that you are not the right person for a job that might require giving them wise counsel. How difficult can that be to understand? But there's more to it than that. In another way, this really is all about free speech, but not in the way you might expect.
Some folks undoubtedly argued that Kempling was being denied his right to "free speech," but those people would be hopelessly deluded. In fact, if you bear with me for a minute, Kempling still had every right to say what he wanted, as publicly as he liked, and no one was stopping him. If he wanted to continue to write letters to the local paper castigating gays and lesbians, he was completely free to do so. But here's the catch.
If he chose to exercise that right to free speech, he did not simultaneously have the right to continue to work as a public school counselor. This is also not a difficult concept -- it's based on the idea that, as conservative wanks love to lecture us, actions have consequences. If Kempling wants to continue to be an anti-gay bigot, no one's going to stop him but, at the same time, he shouldn't expect everyone to continue to accommodate him.
As another example, I personally despise Microsoft software, which I consider to be overpriced, bug-ridden crap, and my right to free speech lets me say that whenever and wherever I want. However, if I were to accept a job with Microsoft, I shouldn't be surprised if they made it clear that they wanted all that bad-mouthing to stop.
One might argue (if one was a moron, that is) that Microsoft is trampling on my right to free speech. Hogwash. In fact, I still have the freedom to slag their software as much as I want, provided that I'm prepared to accept being fired for it. My freedom of speech is still entirely intact, as long as I understand that that goes along with Microsoft's freedom to kick my sorry ass out the door for exercising it.
Perhaps the best example of this total lack of misunderstanding involves the tax-exempt status of churches in the United States. Those churches enjoy the delightful status of being tax exempt, in exchange for which they are not allowed to get blatantly involved in politicking. It's a simple idea and yet, year after year, evangelical wingnuts complain about how this ban on political involvement is somehow an infringement on their right to free speech.
But no one is stopping those churches from getting as political as they want. If they truly want to start promoting political candidates, the solution is trivial -- they need only give up their tax-exempt status, at which point they're welcome to go totally bananas. Not surprisingly, that doesn't interest them since what they really want is to have their cake and eat it, too. They want all the perks that go along with being a church, with none of the legal obligations.
What this boils down to is a simple idea -- actions have consequences -- and the citizens of Wankerville are certainly familiar with that idea. Witness the latest dust-up involving Michelle Malkin and the publication of the personal contact information of those anti-war protestors. None of Malkin's adoring, brain-damaged groupies denied that those protestors had the right to protest. Rather, they argued that, if those protestors were going to do that and publish their contact info, well, they deserve what they get. Sound familiar? Yup -- actions have consequences.
Unless you're a Bible-pounding loon like Lloyd Mackey, who seems to want all of the rights of free speech without having to deal with any of the associated consequences. Sorry, Lloyd, it doesn't work that way. You (and Chris Kempling) have the right to be as publicly homophobic as you want. But if you are, you have no right to complain when the rest of us make you pay the price for it.
Actions. Consequences. See how that works?
BY THE WAY, it's not like you need another example to pound this home but, when it comes to mangling the entire idea of free speech, one doesn't even have to leave the confines of religious silliness.
Several years back, The Right Rev. Bill Phipps of the United Church of Canada made waves when he expressed doubts about the divinity of Jesus. But wait ... freedom of speech and all that, right? He was entitled to his thoughts, no? Fuck, no:
Sadly, it seems that all that some people are able to hear in Bill Phipps comments is heresy. But heresy, properly understood in origin is 'choice' or 'chosen path'. i.e. there is 'heresy' only when the choice is genuinely different not when certain lines are transgressed. And Bill Phipps has chosen to be and remains a follower of Jesus Christ.
And yet, in spite of this, a person like John Trueman, the President of the Community of Concern, (which is an alliance of conservative members and congregations within the United Church) has requested that Bill Phipps resign and even be disqualified from United Church membership.
Whoops. Apparently, there's more to this "free speech" thing than meets the eye. Apparently, actions have consequences. The mote in one's eye and all that. I'm sure you're shocked.