The painting is of Sir Thomas More’s daughter saying goodbye to her father. More was beheaded by King Henry after refusing to acknowledge the State as Supreme Head of the Church of England and refusing to approve the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
“And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!” – Attributed to Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
Last week Republican leaders “cut down” the First Amendment (freedom of association) in an unprincipled attempt to uphold a questionable stance on immigration. Their position being that First Amendment protections allowing individuals to freely associate with immigrants did not need to be upheld.
Then on Thursday, Assembly Republicans reversed course and correctly upheld First Amendment protections (freedom of speech, religion) that their peers had unjustly “cut down” days before.
On Thursday, Assembly Republicans attempted to stand upright in the winds of a Democrat controlled Sacramento legislature intent on denying Californians their inherent right to freedom of speech on things many deem sexually immoral. The Assembly passed AB 2943, by a vote of 50-18, making “sexual orientation change efforts” an “unlawful business practice”.
The bill doesn’t include a religious exemption for churches or non-profits and raises a question. On what ground does a Republican challenge a Democrat for failing to uphold the Second Amendment when Republicans are treating the First Amendment arbitrarily?
When did San Diegans give Assemblyman Maienschein the right to obstruct an individual’s pursuit of happiness? If an individual lacks the authority to stop his neighbor from exercising free speech where does Maienschein, who derives his power from the consent of the governed, derive the power?
Free speech and tolerance are the price we pay to live in a free society. We might say free speech is the oxygen that secures our other freedoms. The First Amendment neither requires nor condones that our speech not offend and the right not to be offended doesn’t exist in any declaration of which I’m aware.
Each time we allow political correctness to triumph over God given rights and common sense we become complicit in undermining the freedoms on which this nation was built. Perhaps the legislature would consider taking the log out of their own eye before pointing to the speck in ours.
If the GOP wishes to regain credibility and play a meaningful role in California’s future I suggest more consistency with the First Amendment. I don’t think Madison intended it be treated as a cafeteria plan.