In a month thick with madness, on and off the basketball court, it was football, curiously enough, that breathed a little sanity into the national conversation.
“Conversation” has been hard to come by, lately, in a nation crowded with increasingly volatile views on everything from the war to the candidates of an election still well over a year away. Amid the general din, though, no issue is raising more voices and blood pressures in the nation’s courtrooms and legislatures, newsrooms and churches, than the morality of homosexual behavior – and the effort to silence those who oppose it.
Now, ordinarily, the NFL isn’t considered one of our great bastions of insight on either moral dilemmas or free speech. And indeed, this is an issue on which a surprising lineup of big-time media players have already fumbled the ball.
Isaiah Washington may yet lose his job on television’s top-rated drama, for using a slur in referring to a fellow cast member who openly practices homosexual behavior. Ann Coulter tossed the same epithet at Democratic candidate John Edwards, and unleashed the furies of even her fellow conservatives. And no amount of apologizing could help former NBA star Tim Hardaway after he told an interviewer, “I hate gay people.”
Statements like these are despicable and unacceptable in civil discourse. However, they’re not the main reason these celebrities have been sacked by a brutal onrush of profoundly hostile public opinion. After all, much of this country revels in prurience and profanity … prides itself on its obscene gestures … embraces the “genius” of comedians who’ve made a career out of lewd slurs and crude insults. Why should the crudities of these latest “stars” suddenly be considered offsides?
Because the backhands against these blackguards are based less on what they said than on the fact that what they said offends the wrong people: the media caretakers of political correctness.
Free speech, these days, is in the gimlet eye of some sharply suspicious beholders, and it’s now a de facto crime in America to express any opinion contrary to that of the cultural dictators. Christians are regularly chided about a few Puritans who long ago stuck people in stocks for offending their communities – but the Left relentlessly uses cameras and cable shows for exactly the same effect.
Should personal abuse be encouraged, in the name of free speech? Absolutely not. Indeed, discrimination is deplored by every thoughtful Christian and every real American. But the root of this growing cultural lynch-mob mentality is not intolerance for intolerance – it’s intolerance for disagreement.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.