February 24, 2009
Dotting the streets on a certain online map are hundreds of red teardrops. Click on a teardrop at a particular address, and come up with the words, “Patricia Greenwood. Insurance agent. $100.”
Miss Greenwood had better watch her back. Angry supporters of same-sex “marriage” are using Google Maps to tell the world exactly where she lives, and that she donated money to support Proposition 8—the California initiative banning same-sex “marriage.” Now, I made up the name Patricia Greenwood, but the names and addresses on this map belong to real people.
The only point of identifying Proposition 8 supporters is to encourage people to harass them. And the tactic is working.
Opponents of traditional marriage have sent threatening emails and vandalized churches. They have forced supporters out of their jobs and boycotted their businesses. They’ve made abusive telephone calls and even threatened their neighbors with death. Hundreds of cases of harassment have been documented.
Ron Prentice, chairman of the pro-Proposition 8 group ProtectMarriage.com, says the message of the maps “is unmistakable: Support traditional marriage, and we will find you.”
This is unbelievable in a democracy. In fact, domestic terrorism is not too strong a word to use for what’s occurring in California—and it’s a reminder of what happened when citizens allowed similar tactics to go unchallenged in another time and place.
Seventy-odd years ago, Adolf Hitler turned loose his brown shirts on Germany. These vicious young thugs went street by street, seeking out Jews and communists and trade union leaders. They beat them up and destroyed their places of business. In this way, Germany, a strong country, was taken over by an evil man and regime.
How much easier the brown shirts’ job would have been with a Google map! If vigilante-type movements are allowed to bully their opponents, we’re not just talking about suppression of religious freedom. We’re talking about the undermining of the very character of democracy. Political zealots of every stripe will learn that if they cannot persuade their fellow citizens by reason, they can “persuade” us another way—with clubs, scorn, and social ostracism.
It could get to the point where people will be afraid to get involved in politics at all—and if that happens, it will sound the death knell of representative liberal democracy. This is precisely why laws were passed giving Americans the right to a secret ballot.
ProtectMarriage.com and the Alliance Defense Fund have gone to court to protect the privacy and free speech of those who contribute to future campaigns—and to protect them from harassment. They are challenging state campaign finance laws that force disclosure of personal information of those who donate even small amounts of money to political campaigns.
Campaign disclosure laws must balance the public’s right, of course, to know who is donating money to political campaigns with an individual’s right to privacy, freedom of expression, and the freedom not to be threatened for their beliefs.
And we need vigorous law enforcement. If we prosecute hate crimes, why shouldn’t federal and state prosecutors go after those thugs who are abusing innocent people for exercising their right to vote?
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.