All Americans should protest the “anti-hate” bills before Congress, HR 256 and 262, which threaten our freedom of speech. But pro-lifers are especially at risk of arrest and censorship for “hate speech.” Incidents in Germany and Canada—as well as recent events in our own “free” nation!—demonstrate the danger of hate crime laws to pro-lifers.
Last Thursday, nine college-age pro-lifers were arrested and jailed in Alabama on charges of “criminal trespass.” They were giving out literature at a local high school, while standing on the public sidewalk! Police “handcuffed and arrested all nine [pro-lifers] without warning. One of the team members who did not assist in the distribution of literature was also arrested and handcuffed so tightly that it caused her to cry in pain… police confiscated the team’s video cameras and personal belongings, and impounded and searched the Campus Life Tour van. The police also asked the team members where they were staying so they could conduct a search in their hotel as well.”
Pro-lifers fare even worse in other states. In Oakland, CA, pastor Walter Hoye faces up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine for carrying a sign, “Jesus Loves You. Can We Help?” outside an abortion clinic. He is charged with “harassment.”
Police were sensitized to Hoye and other pro-lifers by California’s 2004 “anti-hate” law SB 1234. Police in California now receive hate crime training called "multi-mission criminal extremism." A new category has been added: "anti-reproductive-rights crimes." Pro-lifers are automatically suspect.
Janet Folger of Faith2Action writes, “If I lived in California, I have a feeling my picture would be found at the local post office. If you think killing children is wrong, they're training people against you, too.”
Since pro-lifers are already persecuted under existing statutes, we can only imagine how the crackdown will intensify if federal “anti-hate” laws HR 256 and 262 are passed. Soon all American police will be trained to specifically target “hateful” pro-lifers, as they already do in California.
No Freedom for Canadian Pro-Lifers
Persecution of pro-lifers under existing statutes demonstrates the ferocity of public authorities to attack defenders of the unborn. As we have warned all along, the plight of our neighbors in Canada—where federal hate laws have already shattered free speech—will soon be ours if we don’t stop these bills. In 1994, Canadian pro-lifer Bill Whatcott spent 6 months in jail for praying on the public sidewalk outside an abortion clinic. In 2003, he was sentenced to 8 days in jail for displaying images of aborted fetuses. Police charged him with “criminal mischief” and “disturbing the peace.” In 2004, he was fined $15,000 for protesting Planned Parenthood on a public sidewalk. His total legal debts to date in defense of these charges, and others stemming from criticism of homosexuality, total at least $250,000.
In Canada, as in Europe, the government, and university administrators, are now speech police. Toronto Sun columnist Michael Coren writes of “pro-life clubs defunded and barred from meeting on college property in two universities in Ontario, pro-life stalls vandalized in Manitoba…” The German Law Journal explains, “Although the dangers of hate speech are concededly abstract, they are nevertheless seen as being real enough to warrant management by the government, whose task in this area can be termed as control of the political climate [emphasis mine].” This is the clear intent of hate crime laws: ultimately to control whatever the government defines as “hate speech,” thus “controlling the political climate”—and silencing objectors like those who fight for life.
But more on Germany later—there’s even more bad news from Canada. Last November, students at the University of Calgary faced police intimidation for their campus pro-life display. The university demanded that their large color photographs “face inwards”—obvious censorship—and threatened arrest and expulsion. The students courageously erected their display, which was no less gory than previous displays such as of torture in China.
“Under the watchful eye of numerous media cameras, the university did not arrest the students. But two months later, the university instructed Calgary police to deliver summons to these same students -- privately at their homes, with no media present.” This quote comes from John Carpay, a lawyer for the students, published in the National Post. These students have been charged with “trespassing” on their own campus, and will appear in court this Feb. 27.
Also this month, in Nova Scotia, pro-life presenters at St. Mary’s University were commanded to disband. Protestors descended on the event, which was called “Echoes of the Holocaust,” with “chants and yells,” disrupting the main speaker less than a minute into his speech, yelling, “No hate speech in our school!”
“They continued to shout until [the speaker] was forced to type on the projected screen in order to get his message to the audience…” Campus security did nothing, and then an administrator told the pro-lifers to break up the meeting!
Federal “anti-hate” laws were not even used in every case—official antagonism is so great that authorities used trumped-up charges of “harassment” and “trespassing” to persecute pro-lifers. Hate laws turn this antagonism into a clubbed fist because they empower the government to define the pro-life position itself—regardless of any action taken—as “hate.” That makes any pro-lifer vulnerable to prosecution the moment he or she takes a stand.
Hate Laws in Germany
Elsewhere, federal hate laws have already shown their practically exponential power. In 2007 in Ireland, a pro-lifer was arrested for displaying “offensive” material. She was detained and her “display board showing photographs of abortions was also seized.” Police showed up after just an hour of sharing leaflets and collecting signatures. Apparently someone found the work “offensive.”
It is terrifying that the words “offensive,” “hurtful,” or “hateful” have now become actionable legal concepts. This alone should spring pro-lifers into protest against hate laws. What could be more “hurtful” than showing an image of an aborted fetus to a woman who killed her child? What could be more “hateful” than stating the truth that abortionists kill babies?
The simple truth about this loaded issue can unsettle communities and hurt feelings—and that’s the point of pro-life protest! Few areas of public debate are more threatened by hate laws.
The German Law Journal explains the intentional vagueness of Germany’s own federal “anti-hate” law:
Similar to applicable provisions of international law, German statutes specifically refrain from requiring that racist [or other politically incorrect] messages lead to a clear and present danger of imminent lawless action before becoming punishable [emphasis mine]. A distant and generalized threat to the public peace and to life and dignity, particularly of minorities, suffices for legal sanctions irrespective of whether and when such danger would actually manifest itself…hate speech is generally prohibited—it is "speech minus" or "low-value speech," even if it addresses issues of high political importance.
Shamelessly this journal says German laws criminalize pure speech—even if it doesn’t incite violence! Any speech that might create a “distant and generalized threat to the public peace…suffices for legal sanctions!”
Germany first picked on Johannes Lerle, an outspoken Lutheran pastor few people will defend. In 2007, Lerle was sentenced to one year in prison for a sermon comparing abortion to the Holocaust. He was charged with “inciting the people.” According to one source, Lerle previously spent 8 months in jail for calling abortionists “professional killers.” The court said that was slander since the unborn aren’t humans, so abortionists aren’t killers.
There is controversy over whether Lerle was jailed for being pro-life or being “anti-Semitic.” Regardless, the pastor was jailed for speech, not a physical crime or violent act. Tragically, his association with “anti-Semitism” and his alleged Holocaust denial caused most American Christians to either fail to defend, or retract their defense, of Lerle.
Two years previously, “In 2005, a German pro-lifer, Günter Annen, was sentenced to 50 days in jail for saying 'Stop unjust [rechtswidrige] abortions in [medical] practice,' because, according to the court, the expression 'unjust' is understood by laymen as meaning illegal, which abortions are not.”
Throughout Europe, pro-lifers face stigmatization which will eventually make them as detestable as Lerle the “anti-Semite.” In Britain, the BBC this month again aired a two-part drama that portrays pro-lifers as violent terrorists who kidnap children and lethally inject one of their hostages.
These incidents in Canada and Europe pose a sober warning to the American pro-life movement. For the last decade, our National Prayer Network has faithfully warned pro-lifers that they are in the crosshairs of “anti-hate” legislation. Yet, many seem to view white supremacists or critics of homosexuality as the only ones who should fear hate laws. Wake up!
If you believe in the sanctity of life, you must protest HR 256 and 262 to Congress. Call 1-877-851-6437 toll free or 1-202-225-3121 toll. Also, alert your pro-life organization about how hate laws can persecute and even destroy the pro-life movement in America. Watch our recent 10-minute video, How to Kill the Hate Bills — and take action.
We must rescue the lives of women and helpless, innocent babies from abortion. But pro-lifers must also save the freedom of the living. Otherwise, we will have no voice left to speak for the unborn.
Harmony Grant writes and edits for National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog group.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
Learn how ADL took away free speech in Canada and wants to steal it now in the U.S. Congress. Watch Rev. Ted Pike's Hate Laws: Making Criminals of Christians at video.google.com. Purchase this gripping documentary to show at church. Order online at www.truthtellers.org for $24.90, DVD or VHS, by calling 503-853-3688, or at the address below.
TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this topic. Call (503) 631-3808.
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