The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, December 14, 2015 10:01 pm

Safe space - but for whom?

PETER J. SCAER

The First Amendment guarantees our rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. Yet, college campuses have implemented speech codes and created "safe spaces" to protect people from opinions they find disagreeable. Corporations have followed suit, as have governmental agencies. Increasingly, differences of opinion are labeled "hate speech," thus ending reasonable debate.

Now the Indiana legislature, through Senate Bill 100, is on the verge of weaponizing this politically correct movement by giving protected-class status to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. People with differing worldviews can coexist as neighbors who care for one another. This, sadly, is not where the politicized LGBT movement is leading. Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla Firefox, was stripped of his position simply for supporting a traditional marriage amendment. Kelvin Cochran, an African-American fire chief, lost his job for writing a book on marriage. ESPN commentator Craig James was fired for expressing his views on traditional morality. Government agencies and corporate America have grown inhospitable to people of faith.

I believe in marriage equality, but I hold to the definition of marriage that has itself defined civilization. Every child has a reasonable right to a father and a mother.

Parents are equal but not interchangeable. Not every couple has a child, but every child has a biological mom and dad, and for that there is marriage. While some disagree, this position is based on reason and love.

Meanwhile, as our society moves from same-sex marriage to legalized polygamy, polyamory, temporary, open and even incestual marriage, we do well to encourage public discourse. Together, we need to ask, "What is marriage?"

Our opponents seem to think that marriage is a societal construct, something we can change as we please. But any type of marriage that purposefully deprives a child of a mom or dad is unjust.

SB 100 is called a compromise by offering certain protections for churches and religious institutions. There are two basic problems to this approach.

First, SB 100 turns our inalienable rights into privileges and exemptions. Second, rights belong not simply to groups, but to individuals. The free exercise of religion is more than the freedom of worship; it is the right of every single person to live according to his conscience.

The bill’s details are also troubling. There are exemptions for only the smallest of businesses, suggesting that people lose their rights when they succeed.

This bill would also establish a permanent and unelected commission. It would have the power to issue subpoenas, compel attendance, issue citations of contempt and create advisory agencies and conciliation councils.

This is Orwellian. Why would a free people ever trust its liberty to unelected bureaucrats whose definition of rights is at odds with the Constitution?

Justice Samuel Alito, protesting the flawed Supreme Court ruling on marriage earlier this year, predicted, "I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers and schools." Indiana’s SB 100 would only hasten this process.

In the name of tolerance, we are rapidly moving into an era of intolerance. Jail time and fines do little to advance a free society.

We used to say, "Live and let live." We used to believe in the kind of freedom that cherished diversity of thought. That is the kind of safe space I desire. SB 100 would do little but create a dangerous minefield.


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