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Strange speech bedfellows, legislative legerdemain

In my previous post I made brief mention of limitations on freedom of expression for hate speech. Today I found this interesting item on topic via Infidel Guy.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law, representing several Pennsylvania Christians, argued in a brief filed today in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the state legislature violated the state constitution in 2002 when it added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s “hate crimes” law

Judge Roy Moore said about this important case:

“There is a dangerous trend surfacing in other countries and here in America where governments are trying to make it illegal to speak out against homosexuality …”

I think people should be able to say nasty things about homosexuality if they want, but not for the same reasons as Judge Moore:

even when such an immoral lifestyle is publicly paraded in the streets. … God alone has the ability to see, and the right to judge, the hearts and minds of men.”

Like most people (imo), he seems to simply be supporting free speech on a subject he agrees with. I assume if the bill had instead added penalties for hate speech directed at Christians, he would have found it reasonable.

An interesting facet to this story is how the contentious provision was attached to unrelated legislation to get it pushed through. For those who agree with any particular rider, this process is championed as a tool for the underdog. The opposition can equally well characterize it as a tool of asymmetric legislative warfare. But it gets used so often and to such a ridiculous extent that it loses any moral context and becomes business as usual– the easiest way to enact your agenda, sidestepping the quaint notion of debating a bill on its merits.

I support the One Subject At A Time Act, because I think that legislative compromise should mean coming to an agreement on something, not a back room quid pro quo. I’m not so naive to think OSTA would have only positive immediate results. In our current two-party feedback loop system, the minority party can use riders as a check against being steamrolled by the majority. But there must be a way to balance power that doesn’t involve this kind of trick.

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