Freedom of Speech

Larry Pratt: 'The Second Amendment Was Designed For People Just Like The President' And 'Democrats Who Want To Take Our Rights'

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, spoke to Roger Fredinburg on his far-right radio show in April about the attempt by Congress to restrict armor-piercing bullets. Pratt, responding to Fredinburg’s theory that the left wants to take away everyone’s rifles, said “we figured that’s kinda what they were up to.”

“The Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration,” Pratt said. “And yes, if the New York Times and the Rolling Stone, and whoever else wants to have a hissy fit, yes, our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they wanna go tyrannical on us, we’ve got something for ‘em. That’s what it’s all about.”

“The Second Amendment,” he continued, “is not about hunting, it’s not about target shooting, it’s about Democrats who want to take our rights.”

Fredinburg, building off of the tyrannical Democrats theory, argued that “if you’re a Christian or subscribe to traditional Judeo-Christian values today, you’re considered a hate monger...if you’re a pervert, a deviant, a derelict, you know someone who’s captured by a decadent lifestyle, whatever, your rights are protected. But the good people, their rights are not being protected.”  Pratt, agreeing that the left hates guns and religion, replied, “What a rhetorical sleight of hand, isn’t it?  They say they’re for diversity, they say they’re for freedom of speech, and ‘you’re free to say anything you’d like as long as you agree with me.’ What hypocrites!”

ACLJ: Blasphemy Laws For Me, But Not For Thee?

Yesterday, Miranda reported on the seemingly contradictory views of the American Center for Law and Justice’s European and Slavic affiliates when it comes to blasphemy laws. The ECLJ has been vocal in opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but the SCLJ supported passage of a new anti-blasphemy law in Russia. The law provides for fines, “correctional labor” and up to three years behind bars for “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers.” SCLJ’s co-chairman Vladimir Rehyakovsky expressed some reservations about the final form of the law, but said it was “very important” to have such a law in place.

So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?  On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression.  In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”

But more than a decade ago, in response to an “Ask Jay” question posted on the ACLJ’s website, the group’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said it was “an unfortunate situation” that states no longer have laws against blasphemy, something he blamed on “the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people.”  Sekulow bemoaned the fact that “religion lacks protection in the law.”

Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.

So it appears that the ACLJ is ready to champion free speech when it comes to opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but supports restrictions on blasphemy in place where Christians are in the majority.  Perhaps that double standard is not much of a surprise, given that the ACLJ, which portrays itself as a champion of religious liberty, helped lead opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in New York that critics inaccurately called the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The ACLJ is a legal group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and run by Jay Sekulow and his son Jordan in a manner that is very lucrative for the Sekulow family.

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love And Liberty Mean To The Religious Right

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love and Liberty Mean To the Religious Right

As Smithsonian Continues to Duck Controversy, PFAW Report Draws Lessons On How Not to Respond to Political Bullies

A new report from People For the American Way draws lessons on ways institutions can respond to right-wing-generated controversies, by evaluating the chain of events that led to the Smithsonian’s removal of a work of art from the National Portrait Gallery.

How Not to Respond to Political Bullies: Lessons from the Smithsonian’s Response to the Manufactured Right-Wing Controversy Over Hide/Seek

A new report from People For the American Way draws lessons on ways institutions can respond to right-wing-generated controversies, by evaluating the chain of events that led to the Smithsonian’s removal of a work of art from the National Portrait Gallery.

Smithsonian Gives in to the Far Right, Censors the Artist Who “Spoiled Christmas”

Yesterday GOP leaders called for censoring a privately-funded exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Museum director Martin Sullivan has announced that the disputed work has been removed from the exhibit.

Rev. Samuel Statement on Marriage Hearing

Today, the DC City Council will hear public testimony on legislation that would allow same sex couples to be legally married in the District. Reverend Kenneth Samuel, Senior Fellow at People For the American Way and a member of PFAW's African American Ministers In Action program, said, "I'm proud that our nation's capitol is poised to give equal marriage rights to all the citizens of the District, and I want to thank the council members who are standing up for the rights of all people."

California State University and People For the American Way Foundation Reach Agreement in Fullerton Lecturer Case

(Fullerton, CA) — The California State University (CSU) and Wendy Gonaver, represented by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation, have worked out an agreement over a dispute concerning the requirement that all state employees sign a "loyalty oath" as required by the California Constitution.

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