Oakland Permits Anything But Good News

The infamous and frequently overruled Ninth District Court of Appeals strikes again, this time describing “[Christians’ speech rights] as ‘vanishingly small…’” So is it time to put them on the Endangered Species List?

An employee bulletin board and e-mail system for the city of Oakland, California, has been used by employees to advertise events and issues on the “war, health-care, peace, employee outsourcing, racism, slavery, spirituality, hate, the Gay-Straight Employee Alliance, tolerance, homosexuality, ‘coming out,’ diversity, sexuality, etc.,” Employees could post on nearly anything but threatened or actual violence against other employees.

The city approved emails on establishing an “altar” for Day of the Dead. Other e-mails have said, “I personally think the good book (Bible) needs some updating…”

The local Gay-Straight Employees Alliance “was openly allowed to attack the Bible in widespread city e-mails, to deride Christian values as antiquated, and to refer to Bible-believing Christians as hateful.”

But when two ladies posted an advertisement for a Good News Club, they were threatened with termination. They posted a sign saying:

“Good News Employee Associations is a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family values.”

“If you would like to be a part of preserving integrity in the Workplace call…”

Upon seeing the posting, however, the ladies’ supervisors ordered the announcement taken down. They said that “homophobic” literature like the posting could lead to penalties including termination.

Besides noting that some religious free speech rights are “vanishingly small,” the court wrote, “Public employers are permitted to curtail employee speech as long as their ‘legitimate administrative interests’ outweigh the employee’s interest in freedom of speech.”

Free speech can only be limited if they incite immediate violence, are obscene, and three other categories that I have forgotten. Governments can also impose time, place, or manner restrictions, in some public and semi-public venues such as protest permits, etc. But when groups are permitted to speak on controversial issues that are offensive to some, religious issues should not be precluded because they are offensive to others.

This topic reminds me of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated radio and TV stations to show both sides of a controversial issue. The concept initially sounds fair, but when critiqued from a free market perspective, is full of logical fallacies. I’ll post on it tomorrow.

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