Living in a democracy today is no guarantee we will live in one tomorrow. People in democracies do not always value or protect the freedoms they enjoy. Often, they are willing to vote away their freedoms. Recall that the Nazis were democratically elected in Germany in the 1930s.
Thus we must be eternally vigilant about the liberties we do have, lest they be lost or snatched away from us. We can lose our freedoms by our own apathy and short-sightedness. But it is not just a matter of our carelessness and indifference. There are plenty of groups working overtime seeking to whittle away our freedoms.
An activist judiciary pushing various radical political agendas is one such example. Often our unelected and unrepresentative judges are introducing legislation which is anti-freedom as well as anti-faith and anti-family. Consider the raft of equal opportunity laws, vilification bills, anti-discrimination legislation, and so-called hate crime laws. All can have the effect of curtailing freedoms and promoting various politically correct agendas.
Hate crime legislation is especially nefarious in this regard. These laws not only punish people for their actions, but punish people for their thoughts as well. And they require a slew of thought police to enforce such draconian legislation.
America is currently debating whether hate crime laws should be introduced there. Unfortunately a hate crime bill has already passed in the House and is awaiting ratification in the Senate. Charles Colson picks up the story:
“Never judge a book by its cover, so goes the old expression. But what’s true about books is even more true about legislation. For example, a bill pending before the Senate is titled the ‘Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.’ Since few people want to promote ‘hate crimes,’ preventing hate crimes sounds like a laudable goal. Right? Not if you read what’s between the covers: The title of this bill ought to be the ‘Thought Control Act of 2007’.”
He explains, “This bill would give the federal government jurisdiction over local criminal offenses believed to be ‘motivated by prejudice.’ Not just any prejudice, mind you, but prejudice based on ‘race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.’ Watch those phrases sexual orientation and gender identity, because they tell you which groups are pushing hardest for this bill. The committee rejected amendments that would include other groups, like veterans, the homeless, and senior citizens.”
The real aim of this bill is to force all Americans to embrace the homosexual lifestyle, and never speak ill about it. “Do crimes against homosexuals go unpunished? Are people free to attack gays with impunity? Of course not. There are already laws against assaults on people and property. Moreover, according to the FBI, crimes against homosexuals in the United States have dropped dramatically. In 2005, out of 863,000 cases of aggravated assault, just 177 cases were crimes of bias against homosexuals – far less than 1 percent.”
“See, the bill is not about crime prevention or even civil rights. It’s about outlawing peaceful speech – speech that asserts that homosexual behavior is morally wrong. That’s why the House judiciary committee rejected an amendment stipulating that nothing in this law would limit the religious freedom of any person or group under the Constitution. We’ve seen where laws like this can lead: Hate crimes have been defined to include verbal attacks – and even peaceful speech. The Thought Police have already prosecuted Christians under hate-crime laws in England, Sweden, and Canada. And in Pennsylvania, 11 Christians were prosecuted under the state’s hate crime law for preaching on a street corner against homosexuality.”
Concludes Colson: “If we do nothing, the book under the seemingly innocuous cover will turn out to be 1984 – and it will no longer be fiction, but the law of the land.” Quite right. It is hoped Americans will do the right thing by the bill, and heavily lobby their Senators on this, urging them to vote no. And we in Australia also need to remain vigilant. The threats to our freedom and our values are many and insidious. We dare not let down our guard at this crucial time.