A group of Black Hills provocateurs plans to blaspheme marriage and Mount Rushmore… on a Sunday, no less!
“Celebrate Marriage Equality”—we all know that’s code for gay marriage, for homosexuals defying the will of God, and here promising to defile the sacred institution of marriage at our sacred Shrine of Democracy.
The Black Hills Center for Equality provokes us further by expressing their confidence that the Supreme Court will declare their sin equal to our decent heterosexual marriages in June. How dare they?!
I can imagine the National Marriage Celebration stirring passions and provoking protest. I can imagine that passion and protest posing a risk of violent confrontation. But will I ever blame the organizers of National Marriage Day for any violence that could arise from protests of their actions? No. These advocates for marriage equality are exercising their First Amendment rights. No words they say, no loving vows they make at Mount Rushmore on September 6 can justify any response with fists or bullets.
Now turn to Garland, Texas, and the attempted attack on the “Draw Muhammad” contest. The organizers are provocateurs, arguably a hate group. Their hiring of heavily armed security guards shows they anticipated that their event would invite violence.
Yet under no moral scheme can we look at the thwarted attempt of two killers from Arizona to attack the “Draw Muhammad” event and say to the organizers and participants of that event, “You had it coming.” This hateful, disgusting group is exercising its First Amendment rights. No words they say, no pictures they draw can justify any response with fists or bullets.
They’re called rights because everybody gets them, even bad people who antagonize for the sake of antagonizing and who lie with the same regularity as they breathe. But my distrust of their motives and pretty much the rest of their platform are my only criticisms, and they’re irrelevant to this situation. Even people I don’t like have the right to offend, even if their intentions are less than pure. They absolutely had the right to hold their exhibit, and it’s just cartoons [J.T. Eberhard, “Two Gunmen Shot and Killed at Draw Muhammad Exhibit in Garland, Texas,” Patheos, 2015.05.04].
Consider the spectrum of provocative speech from Pamela Geller to Charlie Hebdo to the National Marriage Celebration. The anti-Islam propagandist, the French satirists, and the South Dakotans who just want to love the people they love differ greatly in intention and tactics. Yet none of them deserve to be silenced by force. None of them are criminals; the silencers are criminals.