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02/16/2007

Why rationally evaluate facts when you can politicize myths?

by Jeremy Hooper

You know what we find beyond disturbing? When our opposition deliberately, flat out misrepresents a situation in order to use it for their own political gain. But that is what the folks at the Concerned Women For America once again do today, when CWA's Matt Barber and Martha Kleder chat with Repent America's Michael Marcavage about the 2004 arrest of eleven anti-gay protesters (of whom Marcavage was the leader).

In the chat, the trio use the 2004 arrest of protesters at Philadelphia's Outfest to try and decry hate crimes legislation nationwide. To further their anti-hate crimes legislation stance, the three continue to paint the '04 arrest as if the protesters were merely arrested for "ministering the gospel on a public sidewalk in Philadelphia." Only problem? They weren't arrested for their message -- what happened was that they were using a bullhorn to drown out a stage performance with anti-gay shouts, which led several on-site to confront them. This then led the police to ask them to move in order to prevent any potential violence, which they reportedly refused. Then and only then did lead to the demonstrators to be arrested for such charges as failure to disperse, possessing an instrument of crime (a bullhorn), obstructing a highway, criminal conspiracy, and disorderly conduct. And yes, under Pennsylvania's hate crimes law they were also given the charge of "ethnic intimidation" (charges that were later dropped in criminal court) -- but in order to receive this additional charge, they had to first engage in behavior that the officers found unlawful!

Now, just last month a federal judge determined that even though the criminal charges were later dropped, police acted well within the law when they arrested the Marcavage and Co. for the aforementioned reasons. And in his ruling, Judge Stengel noted that the city DID allow the protesters entrance (against the wishes of gay activists) and DID offer them a place to stage their protest, and therefore did not stifle their free speech. However, Marcavage depicts the situation like this:

(1:23) MARCAVAGE: This judge simply did not follow the law, he made up his own law. The law requires that the police control the crowd. What had happened is that when we arrived at the event, we were blocked by homosexuals who didn't want us there, who were beginning to yell and to chant and to do different things to block our message. And what the law requires under...a decision in court...the "heckler's veto," where it says that you can't silence the speaker because people are upset with the message. And we were there simply to proclaim the truth that there is hope and freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ. That was the message we were there with. We were doing that through the signs we had, the literature we had, through speaking with people, and, uh, we were in song when we had been arrested, So, the heckler's veto would require the police to actually deal with those who are acting disorderly, not remove the people who were there to speak.

But here's the thing -- in terms of the arrest itself, it wouldn't have mattered if the anger-inciting message was that "Drag queens wear too much makeup." Again, the issue that led to the arrest had to do with the way the anti-gay demonstrators' were disseminating their message and their ultimate failure to comply with the officers' wishes, not in the message itself. What Mr. Marcavage fails to mention about the so-called "heckler's veto" is that if a real threat of violence is detected, authorities have every right to ask the divergent party to cease or alter their action in order to avoid a confrontation! This is exactly what happened! However, wanting to martyr himself and turn this situation into an example of anti-Christain hostility, Marcavage and crew will stop at nothing to paint an inaccurate picture!

In addition to their attempt to parlay the situation into an attack on hate crimes laws, what bothers us so much about this particular case is that they fail to even acknowledge what is so easy to understand! Whereas we can look at and rationally debate things like whether or not the hate crime charges were correctly dropped (we think they were), their side cannot stop for one second and analyze the ideas that we have just put forth (at least not publicly). It would seem to us that their case would be much stronger and their reasons for pushing this story would look far-less bias-driven if they would even for a second consider what our side (and the courts) are saying! Like if they would take religion out of the picture altogether and rationally ask themselves, "Hmm..if I would have followed the cops' request that I move to another area rather than question his motives, would I have been arrested? And had I not deliberately tried to drown out the pro-gay message with my bullhorn, would I have been arrested?" But instead they paint it as if it is a non-debatable case of anti-Christian discrimination, a cut and dry stance that makes their motives look all the more suspicious.

National ‘Hate Crimes’ Law Looms [CWA]

**Oh, and Mr. Barber. This anti-hate crimes legislation idea...

(11:57) BARBER: So correct me if I'm wrong, if an old lady were walking down the street and she were violently and brutally assaulted and a 6 foot four, 250 pound homosexual man were attacked by the same assailant, under hate crimes legislation, he would be treated as a more worthy or more valuable victim than the old lady, isn't that right?

...is just as flawed now as it was when you used it back in January:

Picture 3-49

**Another note: Yes, we have many times looked at and rationally considered the videotaped evidence that Mr. Marcavage uses to justify his stance (which can be viewed on Repent America's website). We genuinely think it works to further validate our case.

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