Sunday, March 18, 2012

Things You Aren't Allowed To Say

Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively has been filed in Springfield, Massachusetts federal court.  A gay rights group is arguing that:
  • Under the Alien Tort Statute, Scott Lively, who runs a Christian organization that opposes homosexuality, should be held liable for actions taken against homosexuals in Uganda because Lively has spoken in Uganda about why homosexuality is a bad thing.  
  • Because the Uganda Parliament considered a bill to make second offense homosexuality a capital crime (and which Scott Lively opposed), Scott Lively should be held liable for crimes of violence committed by individuals (not by government officials or employees) in Uganda.
  • They are alleging that this was a conspiracy involving Scott Lively, but they do not seem to provide any evidence that Lively had any contact or provided any support to those who actually committed the crimes.  The basis of the claim of conspiracy is that because Lively spoke about what he considers the evils of homosexuality, and at least one member of the Ugandan Parliament heard Lively speak, Lively therefore caused persecution of homosexuals in Uganda.
I don't completely agree with Scott Lively.  I certainly do not support making homosexuality into a criminal offense (although such laws are certainly constitutional, contrary to Lawrence v. Texas).  But if making statements in support of such laws becomes unlawful, then almost any expression of a political opinion is in serious danger.  Neo-Nazis are obnoxious and repulsive, but they have a right to free speech.  Homosexuality is a very great danger to our society, but they certainly have the right to speak their mind and argue for their position.  Communism was a very real threat to the United States, but we allowed Communists to speak their mind as long as they did not advocate the violent overthrow of the government.

A civil suit like this has the potential to bankrupt Scott Lively, which I am sure is the goal: to intimidate those who disapprove of homosexuality into silence.  Remember when AIDS activists liked to use the slogan, "Silence = Death"?  It's true.

Once again: free speech; homosexuality.  Pick one.  It does not appear that both can co-exist in a society.


  1. While it doesn't fit into the timeline of the lawsuit, I suppose we also aren't allowed to point out the backlash from Hillary! and company's "Bold but Risky Plan to Make Africa Gay-Friendly". That's a sympathetic account, but it still points out that these countries are not unreasonably interpreting this as potentially being linked to foreign aid in the future.

  2. Playing devil's advocate here:

    How would you feel about an ATS suit against a US-based imam who traveled to Nigeria to speak in favor of imposing sharia law?

    Could he - should he - be potentially liable for the crimes of Boko Haram?

    If an American visitor to Slobbovia campaigned for the enactment of iniquitous laws there, should he be liable for the harm caused by those laws?

    For instance, Al Gore. Suppose Gore, Soros, and company mounted a lavish campaign to impose draconian fossil-fuel restrictions and 'green energy' mandates in a semi-developed country, which succeeds. The effects include massive corruption and a serious local economic depression, wiping out the investments of several US businesses. Should those businesses be able to sue Gore and Co. in the US?

    Suppose American dope advocates lobbied Fredonia into legalizing all dope, with the dreadful effects you and I would expect. Could Fredonians harmed by this policy sue in the US?

    I agree that it is absurd to ban all speech critical of homosexuality. But speech which leads to bad laws or violence is arguably a tort.

  3. Lobbying a government to pass a law is never a basis for suing someone.

  4. I would diagnose it this way:

    Those who agitate for homosexual rights have aligned themselves with a political group (Progressive) that will subvert free speech when it harms the Progressive cause.

    This is why it is very hard for University professors to discuss the racist assumptions underneath Affirmative Action.

    This is why it is unpopular for psychologists to discuss people who desire to leave the homosexual lifestyle. (Is it professional suicide? Or is it just resignation to a professional ghetto?)

    This may be why the research that led to The Bell Curve caused so much froth and name-calling about the book.

    This is also related to the problems documented in your book My Brother Ron. Certain portions of the Progressive movement have made questions about treatment of the mentally-ill unaskable.

    The Progressive movement uses slogans about freedom to mask its desire to remove the freedom to disagree with The Cause.