Craig Parshall

Religious Right Activists Either Totally Clueless Or Utterly Dishonest About Net Neutrality

This week, spokesmen for the American Family Association and National Religious Broadcasters, two of the country’s top Religious Right groups, came out strongly against net neutrality, while simultaneously demonstrating that they have no idea what net neutrality actually is. Yesterday, both groups weighed in again, as NRB’s Craig Parshall spoke with Dan Celia of the AFA, both of them completely misrepresenting net neutrality as a threat to freedom.

Parshall and Celia were upset by President Obama’s recent call to reclassify broadband services as a public utility in order to preserve net neutrality rules jeopardized by a recent D.C. Circuit Court ruling. Under net neutrality, internet data must be treated equally by providers rather than allow companies like Comcast or Verizon deliver data at different speeds or charge premium rates.

Celia, however, sees net neutrality as a Big Government plot, describing Obama’s announcement as a “social-control grab, power grab” and a sign of “scary, scary times.”

“This is a huge power grab,” Parshall replied. He said he doesn’t have an issue with companies like Comcast or Verizon but “has a much bigger problem with Apple and Google and Facebook” who he says “have decided that they’re not going to allow certain orthodox Christian or conservative viewpoints being aired on their platform.”

Parshall then absurdly claimed that people should oppose net neutrality if they want to “protect the internet” as a free and open “village green being the place where the public can get together to exchange ideas, that’s going to go the way of the Dodo bird.”

In other parts of the interview, Celia wondered if net neutrality undermines the “freedom of speech” and the ability to “proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” while Parshall maintained that net neutrality is wrong because “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” which completely misunderstands the fact that it is net neutrality opponents who seek to dramatically alter internet regulations.

Janet Jackson, ISIS And The Amish: Religious Right Group Fears First Amendment On Last Legs

When Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), told the Values Voter Summit on Friday that the U.S. is witnessing the rise of “self-imposed Sharia law” due to the gay rights movement, it turns out that he was just getting started.

The next day, Johnson — whose group represents evangelical radio and television programs — hosted a panel discussion on how the First Amendment is “under siege” by liberals. Johnson and his fellow panelists Craig Parshall, an NRB official and husband of right-wing talk show host Janet Parshall, and Canadian Religious Right activist Charles McVety, stoked fears about the persecution of Christians in the United States, including warning that Janet Jackson’s decade-old “wardrobe malfunction” could lead to laws criminalizing anti-gay speech.

Johnson suggested that the anti-gay Benham brothers somehow had their constitutional rights violated when HGTV dropped their planned reality show, and repeatedly made misleading claims about a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. He warned that without Citizens United, “private citizens” would be barred from “weighing in on elections,” which of course implies that citizens did not have those rights prior to 2010, when the case was decided.

McVety, the Canadian, claimed that the U.S. is on the verge of doing away with the First Amendment because he has heard “whispers of hate speech” laws on the horizon, alleging that even quoting from the Bible may soon become a criminal offense in America. Outside of the “whispers” he claims to have heard, McVety cited no evidence at all substantiating his claim about the imminent passage of unconstitutional hate speech laws.

McVety explained his theory that U.S. activists will use ISIS propaganda videos of hostage beheadings as an excuse to enact laws banning hate speech. “I can see it coming in America,” he said.

Johnson also tried to find evidence to back up the panel’s dire warnings of constitutional collapse, warning that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may cite the fines levied against Janet Jackson for her 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” as a precedent for fining conservative TV personalities under the guise of preserving public order and decency.

The halftime show controversy, of course, occurred a decade ago without any of the horrible results that Johnson predicted, and the NRB actually supported the FCC in the case. Seeing that the NRB filed an amicus curiae brief under Parshall’s name defending the FCC’s fine [PDF], Johnson appears to suggest that his own organization is threatening the First Amendment.

Parshall also grasped at straws in an effort to find evidence of imminent dangers to the First Amendment.

After discussing “Spanish inquisition-type investigations” taking place in America and a “tsunami” of threats to the freedom of speech, Parshall could only cite the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that struck down anti-sodomy laws. He said the ruling paved the way for hate speech laws because of the majority opinion’s use of international law in its decision.

Since U.S. courts citing foreign laws is nothing new, we can only assume that Parshall merely cited Lawrence to raise fears about the gay-Sharia menace that Johnson previously warned about.

Parshall then railed against hate speech policies on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, which of course have their own policies that users agree to uphold and do not represent the government.

Parshall also pointed to the Amish beard shaving case — in which a group of people from an Amish sect were charged with breaking federal hate crime laws, among other counts, for forcibly and violently shaving the beards and cutting the hair of former sect members — to claim that the Justice Department used the hate crime charges against the Amish beard-cutters in order to give them more leeway for future prosecutions over hate speech.

An appeals court recently overturned the religious-based hate crime conviction, finding that prosecutors couldn’t prove that the attacks were motivated for religious reasons, rather than familial, political or personal disputes (two of the victims were the parents of their assailants).

Essentially, the NRB panel’s extreme claims about the imminent annihilation of the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution came down to a string of possibly-maybe-this-could-happen incidents that wed together Janet Jackson, ISIS and Amish beard-cutters.

Johnson concluded his remarks by saying that the “NRB will be for the First Amendment what the NRA is for the Second Amendment.”

If that means making completely outlandish statements and developing doomsday conspiracy theories to spur political outrage and raise money, then his comparison is right on.

Craig Parshall: Marriage Equality Victories Will Lead to 'Suppression of Speech'

Craig Parshall of National Religious Broadcasters added to the torrent of right-wing doomsday prophesies about marriage equality yesterday, claiming that a Supreme Court victory for gay rights would ultimately lead to hate speech laws wielded against Christians. In an interview with his wife Janet Parshall, a talk show host with Moody Radio, he warned that “the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.”

We have a hate crimes law on the federal level now that we didn’t used to have. It’s only been in play for a few years, but I’m already seeing indications that it could migrate toward the suppression of speech. So there’s no question in my mind that if either or both of these decisions go the wrong way, the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.

He was also upset that Justice Kennedy, during the arguments on Proposition 8, had brought up the well-being of California children being raised by same-sex couples. “There are some 40,000 children in California…that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?,” Kennedy asked.

Parshall, who has previously called the children of gay and lesbian parents “victims of gay mentality,” said that in this case the views of children shouldn’t be considered. “We don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions,” he said. “Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions.”

(Of course, in this case, the parents are not able to make the decision to get married because they are legally barred from doing so).

The issue was, I thought, brought to a head in a very interesting, but I think wrong-headed, question by Justice Kennedy, the swing vote again, who said, ‘Well, but what about those 37,000,’ and actually, excuse me, he said, ‘the 40,000 children living in same-sex relationships in California?’ Actually, the number’s 37,000, I think he rounded it up, that’s fine. The 37,000 children. ‘What about them? They want their putative father and other significant other to be called a married couple.’ Well, number one, do they? I don’t think a survey has been made of those 37,000 children. But, number two, we don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions. Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions. The child doesn’t make the decision about whether marriage should be instituted for the purpose of gay parents.

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