Right Wing Watch in Focus

Meet the Extremists Who Are Holding Up Gun Violence Prevention Reforms

Here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve been closely following the right-wing freak-out over President Obama’s proposed gun violence prevention reforms. The president’s proposals, which include requiring background checks on all gun sales and restricting access to certain assault weapons aren’t exactly radical -- about three-quarters of Americans support them. But right-wing politicians and organizations are going off the rails in opposition, claiming that the president wants to set up gulags and gas chambers in order to bring about the “complete destruction of Western civilization”; that he is preparing the military to “fire on American citizens” and kill hundreds of thousands; that he using Obamacare to collect information on gun owners; and he is instigating a race war pitting “Christian, heterosexual white haves” against “black Muslim and/or atheist…have-nots.”

Stunningly, this small, extreme faction has for many years succeeded at defeating gun violence prevention efforts at the federal level. A new report from Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery takes a closer look at the activists and groups who are holding up federal gun violence reform, how they have succeeded, and how they can be defeated. Peter writes:

While the White House, governors, Congress and other public officials grapple with policy responses to last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, many Americans wonder whether the massacre of young children will provide momentum for more effective laws that previous killing sprees – even one that gravely wounded a member of Congress – have not.

Some assume, wrongly, that nothing can be done.  Politicians’ fear of the $200+ million National Rifle Association (NRA) is generally cited as the reason for weak gun laws that undermine law enforcement and put citizens at higher risk from gun crimes.  The power of the NRA to determine the outcome of elections may well be more myth than reality, but even the perception of such power can give the group tremendous political muscle, along with its aggressive lobbying and strong-arm political tactics.

The NRA is not alone in attempting to prevent effective regulation of guns and promoting reckless policies that leave Americans vulnerable to crime.  Its efforts are supported by the same kind of coalition that undermines the nation’s ability to solve a wide range of problems.  Corporations, right-wing ideologues, and Religious Right leaders work together to misinform Americans, generate unfounded fears, and prevent passage of broadly supported solutions.
Understanding the extremism and dishonesty at the heart of right-wing obstructionism is crucial to overcoming it.

You can read the full report, The Lobby Against Common Sense: The Right’s Campaign Against Gun Violence Reform and How We Can Defeat It, here.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

  • PFAW: ABC Drops Andrew Breitbart.
  • Right Wing Watch In Focus: The Tea Party and Religious Right Movements: Frenemies with Benefits
  • Eric Lach @ TPM: Palin Gives Tancredo Last-Minute Endorsement In CO-GOV.
  • Bruce Wilson @ Talk To Action: Bachmann Gave To MN Addiction Recovery Center Credited With Exorcisms.
  • Good As You: America's Gay Obsessed: Culture, politics, marriage, even the military -- why anti-homosexuality is evidencing.
  • Steve Benen: Bachmann to join GOP leadership?

Right Wing Watch In Focus: "Rogues' Gallery"

Today, People For the American Way released out latest Right Wing Watch In Focus report examining the slate of extremist GOP Senate candidates running for office this year.

Entitled "The Rogues' Gallery: Right-Wing Candidates Have A Dangerous Agenda for America and Could Turn the Senate," the report examines the radical agendas and views held by Joe Miller, Carly Fiorina, Ken Buck, Christine O'Donnell, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Roy Blunt, Sharron Angle, Kelly Ayotte, Richard Burr, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Dino Rossi, plus the role that Sen. Jim DeMint has played in dragging the GOP further and further to the right.

Here is the introduction:

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have already broken all records for unprincipled partisan obstructionism, preventing the administration from putting people into key positions in the executive branch, blocking judicial confirmations, and delaying and preventing Congress from dealing with important issues facing the nation, from financial reform to immigration. Now a bumper crop of far-right GOP candidates threatens to turn the "deliberative body"into a haven for extremists who view much of the federal government as unconstitutional and who are itching to shut it down.

Fueled by the unlimited deep pockets of billionaire anti-government ideologues, various Tea Party and corporate-interest groups have poured money into primary elections this year. They and conservative voters angry about the actions of the Obama administration have replaced even very conservative senators and candidates backed by the national Republican establishment with others who embrace a range of radically right-wing views on the Constitution, the role of government, the protection of individual freedoms, and the separation of church and state.

Recently, Religious Right leaders have been grousing that Republican candidates arent talking enough about abortion and same-sex marriage. But this report indicates that anti-gay and anti-choice activists have little to worry about, as the right-wing candidates profiled here share those anti-freedom positions even if theyre talking more about shutting down federal agencies, privatizing Social Security, and eliminating most of the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. A number of these candidates oppose legal abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina is helping to lead the charge with his Senate Conservatives Fund. DeMint, an absolute favorite of both the Tea Party and Religious Right political movements for his uncompromising extremism on both economic and social issues, is at the far right fringe of the Republican Party and has committed himself to helping elect more like-minded colleagues. Sarah Palin, also popular among both Tea Party and Religious Right activists, has also injected her high-profile name, busy Twitter fingers, and PAC cash into numerous Senate races.

Among the right-wing insurgents who defeated candidates backed by national party leadership are Christine ODonnell of Delaware, Joe Miller of Alaska, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Mike Lee of Utah. Others, like Carly Fiorina of California, came through crowded primaries where right-wing leaders split their endorsements, but have now coalesced around her candidacy.

And thanks to the conservative Supreme Courts ruling in the Citizens United case, which said corporations have the same rights as citizens to make independent expenditures in elections, right-wing candidates across the board will be benefitting from a massive infusion of corporate money designed to elect candidates who will oppose governmental efforts to hold them accountable, for example environmental protections and government regulation of the financial industry practices that led the nation into a deep recession.

This In Focus provides an introduction to a select group of right-wing candidates who hope to ride a wave of toxic Tea Party anger into the U.S. Senate. The potential impact of a Senate with even half of these DeMint-Palin acolytes would be devastating to the Senates ability to function and the federal governments ability to protect the safety and well-being of American citizens.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Right Wing Round-Up

Dismantling the Right Wing Campaign Against Elena Kagan

Our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus in now available and it examines the Right's plan of attack against Elena Kagan and her nomination to the Supreme Court.

It explains how, from the very moment Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, the Right was vowing to fight any nominee that President Obama put forward to replace him, without even having any idea who it might be, even though they knew that probably would not be able to defeat them. 

So when President Obama nominated Elena Kagan, they swung into action, raising concerns about her so-called "radicalism": 

The right-wing's routine charges of "radicalism" have settled into a tight little rhetorical circle which leaves no room for actual facts or logic. Here's how it goes: because Obama is dangerously radical, anybody he appoints to anything should be assumed to be radical. And the fact that he is appointing radicals just proves how radically radical he himself is.

While any Supreme Court nominee would draw close scrutiny from across the legal and political spectrum, including someone with Kagan's widely acknowledged intellect and her academic and public service credentials, those who were ready to scream "radical" no matter what the facts might actually be have been screaming about Kagan's alleged radicalism:

  • Fox pundit Sean Hannity said "her background is strident radical left like the president's."
  • Robert Knight of the Coral Ridge Ministries charged that the nomination was Obama's "in your face" selection of a "radical lawyer."
  • FRC's Perkins decried Kagan as an "ideological twin" to President Obama and said her "ultimate agenda" is "to reshape the court with a profoundly radical bent."
  • Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery calls her nomination "a triumph for liberal ideology and judicial activism."
  • And this from the Traditional Values Coalition's Andrea Sheldon Lafferty: "President Obama's pick of Elena Kagan demonstrates his willingness to subvert the Constitution for his personal agenda and impose his leftist ideology on our nation for the next 30 to 40 years."
  • Vision America's Rick Scarborough, in a piece called Elena Kagan and the War Against Christianity, calls her nomination "the latest step toward the moral abyss for America." He calls Kagan "a doctrinaire radical leftist with a written disdain for the Constitution of the United States…."
  • David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society, criticized Obama for nominating "an individual who has demonstrated a lack of adherence to the limits of the Constitution and a desire to utilize the court system to enact her beliefs of social engineering.

Those pushing the radical charges won't hear anything else. Sean Hannity asked former Clinton advisor Dick Morris, "So is this just another Obama radical being elevated to the highest levels of our government?" But when Morris repeatedly told Hannity that Kagan had been a moderate-to-conservative voice in the Clinton administration, and predicted based on his experience working with her that she would be a moderate voice on the Court, Hannity would hear nothing of it, cutting Morris off to insist "no way."

This was, of course, just one part of a multi-faceted strategy of lies that the Right has undertaken as they try anything and everything in an effort to sink Kagan's nomination - so be sure to read the entire report to understand how Republicans and the Right are trying to use this issue to boost their political standing.

Anti-Immigration Group Demands Sen. Graham Admit He Is Gay

One of the strategies we didn't include in our Right Wing Watch In Focus, "(P)reviewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration Reform," was "attempting to out a sitting Republican Senator" because, frankly, we could never have imagined it would come to this.

But here you have the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC attempting to do just, sending out this email demanding that Senator Lindsey Graham admit to being gay as part of its effort to stop him from supporting comprehensive immigration reform:

The national border security organization known as Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) is officially calling for US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to make his homosexual lifestyle public knowledge in the interest of political integrity and national security.

ALIPAC's President, William Gheen, addressed Graham's homosexuality in a speech before thousands of Tea Party supporters on Saturday, April 17, 2010, in Greenville South Carolina where Lindsey Graham has offices. A brief clip of Gheen's speech, which is out of proper context, has already gone viral on YouTube and been reported by Keith Olberman on MSNBC, Metro Weekly, The Guardian, and Metro Weekly without proper permissions or attributions.

"US Senator Lindsey Graham is gay and while many people in South Carolina and Washington DC know that, the general public and Graham's constituents do not," said William Gheen President of ALIPAC. "I personally do not care about Graham's private life, but in this situation his desire to keep this a secret may explain why he is doing a lot of political dirty work for others who have the power to reveal his secrets. Senator Graham needs to come out of the closet inside that log cabin so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret."

Senator Lindsey Graham is the lone Republican in the US Senate trying to lobby other Republicans to sponsor a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty bill, which would legalize millions of illegal immigrants and turn them into competitive workers and voters, when the United States has over 25 million under or unemployed workers. ALIPAC considers Graham's support for Comprehensive Amnesty legislation to be against the wishes of 80% of his constituents and against the best interests of the American people.

Senator Graham served in the US Military, which adopted a policy of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell" regarding homosexuality during the Clinton administration. Prior to the policy change, homosexuality was considered a vulnerability to our national security because those with access to classified information and strategic resources were often blackmailed by foreign powers.

"Barney Frank has more integrity and bravery than Senator Lindsey Graham right now," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "When you are a US Senator, the public deserves to know what might influence your decisions. Obama and Napolitano know about Senator Graham, now it is time for the rest of the country to know."

ALIPAC, one of America's largest groups fighting against illegal immigration and amnesty, is releasing this full version of William Gheen's speech containing the request for Senator Graham to confess his homosexuality to the public at this link....

And to think, just a few weeks ago Gheen and ALIPAC were almost forced to shut down because they couldn't raise the $30,000 they needed to stay in business and survived only because of some last minute donations.

Arizona Follows Right Wing Playbook In Passing Draconian Immigration Law

It was not too long ago when Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce was considered an embarrassing crank by the state's Republican establishment, and with good reason:

Russell Pearce, had long been considered a politically incorrect embarrassment by more moderate members of his party — often to the delight of his supporters. There was the time in 2007 when he appeared in a widely circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference. (Mr. Pearce said later he did not know of the man’s affiliation with the group.)

In 2006, he came under fire for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment — inadvertently, he said — from a white supremacist group.

Not surprisingly, Pearce holds ultra-militant anti-immigration views and has used his position as chair of the Senate’s Appropriation Committee to turn them into law: 

Passage of the law, which would, among other things, allow the authorities to demand proof of legal entry into the United States from anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, testified to the relative lack of political power of Arizona Latinos, and to the hardened views toward illegal immigration among Republican politicians both here and nationally.

...

The bill makes it a state crime for immigrants not to carry authorization papers, requires the police “when practicable” to check the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally and allows people to sue cities and counties if the law is not being enforced.

Just as we predicted in our recent Right Wing Watch In Focus, "(P)reviewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration Reform," supporters of this draconian legislation engaged in a variety of standard right-wing strategies for justifying the need for the bill, from portraying immigrants as terrorists to accusing them of "invading" America:  

But supporters of the bill pointed out the problems caused by illegal immigration. Republican Senator John Huppenthal, a sponsor of the bill, says he’s seen evidence of neighborhoods that have been “nuclear-bombed by the effects of illegal immigration.” Republican Senator Al Melvin pointed to the murder of an Arizona rancher last month, possibly at the hands of an illegal immigrant, and the federal government’s failure to act on illegal immigration as the reasons for his vote; and another senator cited 40 murders committed by illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration was called an “invasion” several times on the Senate floor.

Isolated, Unsolved Murder in Arizona All President Obama's Fault

When we released our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus, "(P)reviewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration Reform" a few weeks back, one of the tactics we highlighted that the Right has used in that past to oppose any effort to reform our immigration laws is to try and "portray immigrants as criminals and terrorists":

An important part of the far right's anti-immigrant rhetorical tactics during previous immigration debates at both local and national levels was portraying undocumented immigrants as criminals responsible for new waves of crime (a persistent portrayal not backed up by crime statistics) or as potential terrorists. Rep. Steve King, for example, has called "illegal immigration" a "slow-motion Holocaust," and a "slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States."

To see this tactic in action today, one need look no further than the recent murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, who was shot to death while tending his land on Saturday.  Nobody has been arrested and authorities have no idea who may have killed Krentz, though various theories are floating around:

One, a drug cartel scout. The Chirachua mountains in southeast Arizona are 11,000 feet tall, rugged and remote. It is a popular drug corridor and the killer may have been clearing the way for a load of drugs moving north when Krentz surprised him.

Two, the suspect belonged to a band of thieves terrorizing the remote ranches spattered around the area — an idea supported by other ranchers.

"Two days earlier a 9mm and a 9mm Glock had been stolen from a home in Portal," said rancher Roger Barnett. "There is no way to know for sure it was the murder weapon. But the bullet the killed Rob and his dog was a 9mm."

Three, retaliation. The day before the killing, Krentz's brother Phil stopped a caravan of illegal immigrants carrying 280 pounds of marijuana. All eight were arrested by the border patrol and the pot was impounded.

But just because nobody has any idea who killed Krentz or why, that is not stopping anti-immigration activists from blaming President Obama:

Tom Tancredo happened to be visiting Cochise County (Arizona) when the shooting occurred on Saturday. Longtime rancher Robert Krentz was found shot to death in his all-terrain vehicle, with the engine still running. Investigators believe he was attacked by a single perpetrator, probably an illegal immigrant.

Tancredo, who now serves as chairman of The Rocky Mountain Foundation, believes the border is clearly not secure.

"Anybody that tells you that is a liar," he contends. "And the people who have been ignoring this problem for now years have blood on their hands."

The Foundation chairman says several things must be done, including resuming work on the border fence that President Obama halted.

The former U.S. lawmaker suggests that "a layered barrier -- a fence, a road and another fence" be constructed. "That's a strong barrier. Not just vehicle barriers -- that's all they've got around on the Krentz ranch. This guy wasn't driving a car. He was walking, and he killed Bob Krentz. We need a physical barrier, and we need the National Guard," Tancredo urges. "It's a war zone. People are dying."

Tancredo adds that now that Obama and Napolitano are talking openly about pushing a new amnesty program, the border invasion has resumed.

Ken Blackwell likewise dedicated his latest column to the topic, using the murder as a justification to blame the Democrats and oppose their efforts at reform:

The tragic murder of Robert Krentz shows just how abysmally the federal government has failed us all in this regard. Secretary Napolitano needs to admit that the system did not work. And President Obama had better drop the hyper-partisanship to address immigration in a way that meets Republican demands to uphold the rule of law and not reward illegal behavior.

This is not the time for far-left pandering or promises of amnesty in the galling hopes of political gain. Nor is this the time for cramming through a law instead of beginning a long, slow, deliberate conversation with the opposition party and the American people. This is the time for addressing a serious problem for this country, a problem that quite clearly includes a deadly threat to our citizens.

Let me note again that nobody has any idea who committed this murder or why ... except those on the anti-immigration Right, who already know that it was an illegal immigrant and it was all Obama's fault.

Straight Out of the Right-Wing Playbook

Yesterday when we posted the link to our new Right Wing Watch In Focus on the Right's playbook for stopping immigration reform, one of the strategies we highlighted was the effort to "Portray Immigrants and Their Supporters as Invaders, Conquerors, Enemies of the U.S."

Today, NPR ran a story about the immigration reform rally taking place in Washington, DC this weekend which featured exactly that sort of attack

Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce defends Arizona's reputation as one of the most unwelcoming spots for undocumented workers in the U.S. He says those headed to the nation's capital are promoting anarchy.

"These folks who march with no respect for the law, have no regard for the victims of crime and the damage and cost to America," Pearce said. "Shame on them. Shame on them! They're as treasonous and as un-American as anyone I know."

Preparing For the Inevitable Fight Over Immigration Reform

Yesterday, People For the American Way released our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus entitled "(P)reviewing the Right-Wing Playbook on Immigration Reform" which lays out the attacks the Right used to fight efforts at immigration reform in the past and will undoubtedly deploy again the issue is taken up by Congress in the near future: 

The public debate over comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007 was marked by appalling anti-immigrant rhetoric and was accompanied by a rise in anti-Latino hate crimes tracked by the FBI. In a report last year, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights called "the legitimization and mainstreaming of virulently anti-immigrant rhetoric" one of the "most disturbing developments of the past few years." Among the pundits promoting "fear and loathing" on cable television was Glenn Beck, who said "our country is on fire, and the fuel is illegal immigration." Since then, the swine flu scare and the deep economic recession in the United States have given right-wing opponents of comprehensive immigration reform new fuel for inflaming anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment. In September 2008, for instance, right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin even blamed "illegal immigrants" for the mortgage crisis.

The 2006-2007 push for comprehensive immigration reform was supported by the Bush administration, much of America's business and labor establishments, and congressional leaders from both parties. But in spite of that broad support, the passage of reform was derailed by right-wing pundits who inflamed anti-immigrant sentiment, some members of Congress who gleefully participated in the fearmongering, and others who were simply afraid to resist it.

In October 2008, the Anti-Defamation League criticized anti-immigrant groups for utilizing the strategies of hate groups and "resorting to hateful and dehumanizing stereotypes and outright bigotry to demonize immigrants." To the categories identified by the ADL we can now add demagoguery over the swine flu virus and exploitation of the nation's economic woes.

Here is a review of the rhetorical strategies used to inflame anti-immigrant sentiment and build political opposition to comprehensive immigration reform.

The report lays out nine specifc attacks the Right has used in the past to kill immigration reform legislation:

1: Appeal to Racial Fear and The 'Brown' Threat to 'White' America - "What is happening to us? An immigrant invasion of the United States from the Third World, as America's white majority is no longer even reproducing itself." - Pat Buchanan

2: Appeal to Racial Resentment by Portraying Immigrant Rights Advocates as Racists -- "[NCLR is] the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people" - Michael Savage

3: Portray Immigrants and Their Supporters as Invaders, Conquerors, Enemies of the U.S. - "The homegrown multiculti-mau-mau-ers know exactly what they believe, and they know exactly what they are doing. They aim to mainstream the 'Stolen Land' mantra and pervert history. They aim to obliterate America's borders by sheer demographic and political force." - Michelle Malkin

4: Portray Immigrants as Criminals and Terrorists - "Illegal immigration" is a "slow-motion Holocaust," and a "slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States." - Congressman Steve King

5: Portray Immigrants as Carriers of Disease and Weapons of Bio-Terrorism - "The next time you eat in a restaurant or sleep in a hotel or motel....just remember to bring your own food, dishes, untensils [sic], glasses, towels, and maybe your own water. The person who cooked your meal or made your bed may very well be the one who picked your fruit and vegetables, yesterday....and we've heard the stories about what they do in the fields....haven't we?" - Mothers Against Illegal Aliens

6: Stop Reform by Shouting 'Amnesty' - "'Comprehensive' is the code word for amnesty." - Pat Buchanan

7: Denigrate Reform Efforts as Vote-Buying -- "The Democrats know it's to their advantage to bring in Third World hordes who will one day become Democratic voters." - Rick Scarborough

8: Portray Anti-Immigrant Stance as 'Pro-Worker' (While Voting Against Worker Interests) -- "If they were not in the country, we wouldn't have to worry about emergency room or health insurance costs at all. And Americans would have these jobs." - Congressman Virgil Goode

9: Push Divisive Black-Brown Wedge - "[Illegal immigration is] the greatest threat to black people since slavery." - Ted Hayes

For those who are committed to passing much-needed immigration reform, it is vital to know the various strategies used by anti-immigrant, right-wing activists in the past ... and that is exactly what our latest report seeks to chronicle and analyze.

PFAW to Americans for Limited Government: "What Are You Talking About?"

Last week, we released our latest Right Wing Watch In Focus entitled "Rise of the New McCarthyism: How Right Wing Extremists Try to Paralyze Government Through Ideological Smears and Baseless Attacks" which contained this one passage that mentioned Americans For Limited Government:

Among the most recent targets is presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, a longtime associate of the president’s. A group calling itself Americans for Limited Government has launched a campaign against her, claiming that her role is “to enforce Barack Obama’s will inside and outside the Obama White House” and saying:

A radical leftist with a ruthless agenda, she is the Obama advisor most responsible both for originating and orchestrating his most egregious attempts to impose a socialist regime upon the American people.

But apparently that passing reference really chapped ALG's hide, so the organization has now called us out

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today directly challenged People for the American Way Chair Lara Bergthold to substantiate her organization’s claims that ALG had engaged in a “McCarthy-era” attack against top advisor to Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, on the ALG website, StopJarrett.com.

“We ask you to find one factual error on StopJarrett.com,” Wilson wrote in a letter to Bergthold. “Unlike the People for the American Way, whose website is riddled with inaccuracies, StopJarrett.com is meticulously researched. Perhaps the reason you don’t like it is because Ms. Jarrett is a radical who should have never achieved her position of power.”

Give us a break! We said in our report that ALG and others on the Right are behaving like Joseph McCarthy, "who frightened many Americans with charges that the government was infested with communist sympathizers."  The fact that ALG declares that Jarrett is "responsible both for originating and orchestrating [Obama's] most egregious attempts to impose a socialist regime upon the American people" is proof of our claim.  End of debate.

Another Right Wing Hate Crimes Horror Story Goes Down

During the debate about expanding hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation, one of the standard scare tactics employed by the Religious Right was to point to pastors in other nations who had been arrested for speaking out about homosexuality and warning that, if this legislation passed, the same thing would start happening here.

One of the incidents they regularly pointed to involved Canadian pastor Stephen Boissoin ... in fact, Sen. Jim DeMint explicitly mentioned Boissoin in his speech on the Senate floor opposing the legislation:

Today in the United States, only actions are crimes. If we pass this conference report, opinions will become crimes. What is to stop us from following the lead of European countries and American college campuses, where certain speech is criminalized?

Can priests, pastors, and rabbis be sure their preaching will not be prosecuted if they say certain things are right and wrong? Again, in Canada, for instance, Pastor Stephen Boissoin was so prosecuted by Alberta’s Human Rights Commission for publishing letters critical of homosexuality.

Or will this provision serve as a warning to people not to speak out too loudly about their religious views, lest federal agents come knocking on their doors?

What about the unintended consequences, such as a pedophiles and sex-offenders claiming protected status under this provision as being “disabled”?

There is no such thing as a criminal thought, only criminal acts. Once we endorse the concept of thought-crime, where will we draw the line? And more importantly, who will draw that line?

...

I urge my colleagues to consider the implications of what we’re doing, just the raw cynicism of attaching this type of controversial legislation to the bill that funds the defense of our country. What type of legislative extortion will they consider of next? I have a choice to vote for hate crimes legislation that I feel would undermine the very justice system in our country or against the defense of my country. I don’t think we could be more cynical.
 

Well, guess what happened yesterday?

A Court of Queen's Bench judge has ruled an anti-gay letter written by a former Alberta pastor in 2002 was not a hate crime and is allowed under freedom of speech.

Justice E.C. Wilson overturned a 2008 ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission that the letter by Stephen Boissoin that was published in the Red Deer Advocate broke provincial law.

At the time, the commission said it may even have played a role in the beating of a gay teenager two weeks after it was published.

The commission had ordered Boissoin to refrain from making disparaging remarks about homosexuals and to pay the complainant, former Red Deer high school teacher Darren Lund, $5,000 in damages.

Neither order can now be enforced, as Wilson declared them "unlawful or unconstitutional."

The letter carried the headline "Homosexual agenda wicked" and suggested gays were as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.

Boissoin had argued he was simply commenting on government policy by criticizing homosexuality being portrayed positively in the public school curriculum.

On Thursday, Boissoin said he was thrilled with the judge's ruling, calling it a victory for "freedom of speech and religious expression in Canada."

Of course, this won't stop the Religious Right from continuing to cite this case as proof of their claims, just as they continue to cite the case involving two grandmothers arrested a few years back in Philadeplhia, as we explained in our Right Wing Watch In Focus on the issue:

One story Religious Right leaders like to tell revolves around the arrest of some Repent America protestors at a Philadelphia gay pride rally. This incident has become the stuff of mythology on the right, in part due to ads produced by Repent America in 2007 featuring a couple of grandmothers who were supposedly arrested for sharing the Gospel. The way they tell it, it’s understandable that it would concern people. So it’s worth finding out what really happened.

The kernel of truth under the pile of propaganda is that a group of Repent America activists were in fact arrested while protesting Philadelphia’s OutFest, and a local prosecutor did charge them with violations of several laws, including the state’s hate crimes law. But none of those charges were for “sharing the gospel.” Repent America – and the religious and political leaders who tell the same story – don’t mention that the police in fact were careful to protect their right to protest. The court found that among other things the protesters “blocked access to vendors, and disobeyed direct orders from the police, who were trying to preserve order and keep the peace.”

The First Amendment allows equality advocates to rally, and allows those with a different point of view to protest. But it doesn’t mean that the protesters have the right to disrupt the rally or drown out its speakers. It is universally recognized that public safety officials can place reasonable “time, place, or manner” restrictions on people exercising their First Amendment rights in order to preserve public order and prevent one group from trampling another’s rights. The court, which noted that Repent America did not get a permit for its protest, found that the police applied the law reasonably when the bullhorn-wielding Repent America protesters refused a request to move to another location and instead sat down in the street.

It’s also important to note that the court ruled that the prosecutor’s decision to file charges under the hate crimes law was a misapplication of the law – and charges against the protesters were dismissed. The court affirmed that the hate crimes law did not apply to the protesters’ speech or even to their disruptive behavior and refusal to obey police requests. That’s not exactly the impression you’ll get from listening to Religious Right leaders. It’s also important to note that federal courts rejected Repent America’s claims that the city and Outfest organizers had violated their First Amendment rights.

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Right Wing Watch in Focus Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Thursday 02/28/2013, 2:19pm
Here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve been closely following the right-wing freak-out over President Obama’s proposed gun violence prevention reforms. The president’s proposals, which include requiring background checks on all gun sales and restricting access to certain assault weapons aren’t exactly radical -- about three-quarters of Americans support them. But right-wing politicians and organizations are going off the rails in opposition, claiming that the president wants to set up gulags and gas chambers in order to bring about the “complete destruction of Western... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 04/22/2011, 5:35pm
Right Wing Watch In Focus: The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection. Justin Elliott @ Salon: Trig Trutherism: The definitive debunker. Robin Marty @ RH Reality Check: Man Who Wants Full Abortion Ban In Louisiana Once Advocated Sterilizing Poor Women. Joe.My.God: Hate Groups Unite On DOMA Letter Campaign To Congress. Tim Murphy @ Mother Jones: Anti-Sharia Bill Sponsors Are Kind of Clueless. MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/13/2011, 5:36pm
Right Wing Watch In Focus: The Bullying Advocates: Report Exposes the Religious Right's Effort to Stop Anti-Bullying Programs in Schools. Good As You: Marinelli: There's a secret, underground NOM. Rob Boston @ Wall of Separation: My Birthday Wish For Thomas Jefferson: An End To The Religious Right’s Lies About Him. Warren Throckmorton: More on Thomas Jefferson and Christianity. Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion: Jim Bakker Predicts. Alvin McEwen: Peter Sprigg accuses Perez Hilton of having 'a known interest in children.' Carlos Maza @... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 03/24/2011, 5:53pm
Right Wing Watch In Focus: How Not to Respond to Political Bullies: Lessons from the Smithsonian’s Response to the Manufactured Right-Wing Controversy Over Hide/Seek. Julie Ingersoll @ Religion Dispatches: Republicans Tell Iowa Homeschoolers Education Not Government's Role. Warren Throckmorton: Bryan Fischer: Freedom of religion only for Christians. Towleroad: Two Iowa Republicans Plan to Call Out Anti-Gay Activist Bob Vander Plaats on Campaign to Oust Judges. Kristin @ Bold Faith Type: Denying Peter: King Dismisses Broad Coalition of Religious... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 02/24/2011, 7:03pm
PFAW - Right Wing Watch In Focus: Citizenship in the Balance: How Anti-Immigrant Activists Twist the Facts, Ignore History, and Flout the Constitution.    Steve Benen: How The Media Covers Health Care Rulings, Cont'd.    Jim Burroway @ Box Turtle Bulletin: Tennessee Lawmakers Propose Ban on Mentioning LGBT People in Schools.    Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Fact-check: Religious Right Overstates Opposition to Expanding Marriage.    HRC Back Story: Hawaii Governor Signs Civil Unions into Law.   ... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 02/24/2011, 7:03pm
PFAW - Right Wing Watch In Focus: Citizenship in the Balance: How Anti-Immigrant Activists Twist the Facts, Ignore History, and Flout the Constitution.    Steve Benen: How The Media Covers Health Care Rulings, Cont'd.    Jim Burroway @ Box Turtle Bulletin: Tennessee Lawmakers Propose Ban on Mentioning LGBT People in Schools.    Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Fact-check: Religious Right Overstates Opposition to Expanding Marriage.    HRC Back Story: Hawaii Governor Signs Civil Unions into Law.   ... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 12/15/2010, 7:10pm
Right Wing Watch In Focus: Meet the Leadership: Corporate America and the Religious Right’s New Team in the House. Ben Dimiero @ County Fair: Fox boss ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science. Nick Wing @ Huffington Post: Jon Kyl: Harry Reid Would 'Disrespect' Christmas By Extending Senate Session. Steve Benen: What Jim DeMint considers 'sacrilegious'. Ian Millhiser @ Think Progress: Cuccinelli’s Anti-Health Reform Argument Has A George Washington Problem. Candace Chellew-Hodge @ Religion Dispatches: Irony Thick in Bush Interview with... MORE