The Cost of Free Speech: Miss California's Plight

Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Cost of Free Speech: Miss California's Plight

May 20, 2009

Last week I spent two days talking about how Christian doctors, businesses, schools, and ministries have been persecuted for refusing to embrace same-sex “marriage.” Some were sued, some lost their jobs, some went out of business.

Much of this takes place, of course, under the radar screen. Christians know about the harassment, but many other Americans do not.

That changed last week with the very public persecution of a 21-year-old beauty queen—one who, like most Americans, supports natural marriage between one man and one woman.

First, Carrie Prejean, Miss California, lost the Miss USA crown—one she might have won if she’d given a politically correct answer about same-sex “marriage.”

Then, she was viciously attacked on a pageant judge’s blog site. Other bloggers joined in. Soon previously unpublished—and let me say unfortunate—topless photos of Prejean began to appear on the Web. Others accused her of lying about the photos.

A few days ago, Prejean finally responded. And what she said is so important I want to share it with you.

First Prejean thanked God for giving her the strength to stand by her belief in traditional marriage. Then, she publicly forgave her tormentors. And then she talked about her grandfather, who fought in World War II under General Patton.

Fighting back tears, Prejean said, “[My grandfather] never spoke of the Battle of the Bulge that he participated in as a rifleman, or the honorary medals he received because of his bravery. But he did speak about the freedoms he fought for, and taught me to never back down, and never let anyone take those freedoms away from [me].”

Prejean then pointed out that she was being punished for exercising her first amendment right to free speech—the very constitutional right her grandfather risked his life to preserve. “This should NOT happen in America,” she said. But it did.

Most of you know the Prejean story, but what has escaped most attention is what this really means for future of civil discourse in America.

Prejean concluded her remarks by saying, “I hope at the end of the day that others could respect my rights as I respect theirs . . . together we can bring back civility in our social and cultural discussions… For everyone out there listening—do not be silenced.”

Well, bravo, Carrie! Civil discourse and freedom of speech are essential to democracy. Prejean is not just standing up for her beliefs; she’s standing up for the right to express them openly. The amazing thing is that she has to stand up to defend her right to free speech in the first place! But today, when it comes to the homosexual agenda, we are suffering from, as John Stuart Mill put it, the “tyranny of prevailing opinion.”

I hope that many Americans who believe in traditional marriage and civil discourse will take their cue from Prejean and refuse to be pushed around by bullies. We need to speak up respectfully, but boldly, whenever the subject of same-sex “marriage” comes up.

Punishing people for what they believe should never happen in America. Out of honor for the God we worship, and for the sake of our country, we should—we must—refuse to be silenced.

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.