Christine Flowers, 5/29/2015 [Archive]

Shutting Down Conservative Discourse

By Christine Flowers

There are a lot of things I don't like. Jello molds with miniature marshmallows trapped inside the viscous goo. The smell of sweat on the subway.Subways.Sequels (except for the Godfather II). Mosquitos, malaria, musk, Massachusetts and pretty much everything else that begins with an "m." We're not talking hatred here, just low grade aversion. Let's call this "Dislike Speech."

But you know what I don't hate? Gays.Muslims. Women (last time I checked I was one). President Obama. Liberals in general.

Of course, to hear some people, I'm filled with animus toward those who don't look, think or worship as I do. The emanations from my mouth and pen are supposedly hateful expressions of intolerance.

I'm not alone in this, of course. In fact, I'm a very small dot on the Georges Seurat landscape of conservative mean-spiritedness. Of course, don't tell that to the liberal lady blogger who labeled me a "Republic***", or to the former employee of a free weekly newspaper who makes the occasional comment about how "bad" of a person I am.

I don't like to use catch phrases like the "lamestream media" because that tends to trivialize a very real problem, namely, a willingness to shut down conservative discourse.I know this might seem strange, given the proliferation of right-wing radio programs and the almost weekly publication of books that give the inside story on how President Obama and Hillary Clinton have screwed up the country.

These shallow attempts at commentary anger me because they provide potent ammunition to people who are naturally inclined to disrespect and disregard conservatives.The glee with which a Bill Maher or a Jon Stewart will latch onto something Sarah Palin might have said or Mike Huckabee might have done is proof positive that the liberal media is filled with rabid dogs waiting to feast on "red" meat.When that meat is offered up as an easy sacrifice, you have to wonder if it's even worth defending conservative principles.

But of course it is, and of course it's important to do so with intelligence and laser-like focus.For example, the brother of democrat Jim Kenney, Philadelphia's probable future mayor, wrote a letter to the editor this week in response to a column I had written which was something less than a hallelujah chorus. The junior Kenney took issue with my comments about his sibling's attempt to bar a Christian entrepreneur from doing business in Philadelphia because of the latter's opposition to gay marriage.

According to the letter writer, "As I see it, the next mayor of Philadelphia has the audacity, the gall, albeit the belief that every single Philadelphian, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, financial status or any other difference has the absolute right to the same opportunities, chance for advancement and protection under the law."

Pretty words.I admire the sentiments behind them, too.But irrelevant to my point.Our future mayor thinks that a person should be prevented from doing business in the city where the Constitution was signed because of his religious values.It is outrageous, troubling, and completely counter to everything this country represents.And yet, the man's supporters will continue to act like rhetorical eels, slipping slimily around the fact that they want to penalize people for the status of their hearts and minds and not because of anything they have actually done.

I can deal with offensive comments.I can't deal with non-sequiturs and empty arguments.I was the moderator of a high school debate team, after all.

The really amazing part is when they turn around and call those of us who disagree with them hate mongers.Marco Rubio made reference to just this fact when he predicted that those who hold Christian beliefs and talk about them in the public square will be accused of using "hate speech."I have news for the Senator from Florida - it's already happening.

Censorship is not just the great hand of government coming down and seizing your printing press.It's not the principal at the high school telling you to keep those prayers to yourself.Censorship can be the subversive sort of social intimidation that forces you to keep those uncomfortable and uncompromising views to yourself or risk being ostracized.

This type of silence is not golden.It's deadly.


©2015 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at

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