Michael Coren Journalist for Life

Michael Coren Journalist for Life

To an intelligent, open-minded person who sincerely believes in pluralism the entire Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty incident from December should have nothing at all to do with where one stands on gay issues or what one thinks of the man’s opinions, but whether we believe in freedom of speech or prefer intolerance, and censorship. Tragically, many people – especially those on the left – are increasingly of the latter variety.

And please spare me the sophomoric argument that the whole thing was a market and not a free speech issue. There is no free market when there is a monopoly or near-monopoly of power and influence. It’s like saying that it’s a fair fight because there are only two people in the ring; that one is Mike Tyson and the other a schoolboy is suddenly irrelevant.

The reason I write about this subject now is that it while A&E backed down and Robertson was reinstated, a few days after it was first revealed that Robertson had been suspended by A&E for expressing the views of at least 100 million Americans, comedian Bob Newhart announced that he had cancelled his booked speech at the Legatus Summit in Florida for that group’s February meeting. Legatus is an organization of Catholic businessmen and is renowned for it’s charitable work.

The reason for the Newhart cancellation was that the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the same group that had campaigned to have Robertson removed, had applied their usual pressure and told Newhart that Legatus was somehow homophobic. It’s not but such is the enormous influence of the gay community in Hollywood and in media that the man ran away. He’s 84-years-old, near the end of his career if not his life, and has no need to be scared of or beholden to anyone. I could understand, if not support, a young man starting out in show business panicking at a threatened boycott by a powerful community, but Bob Newhart. It shows, I suppose, just how intimidating this particular lobby can be.

As it happens, I am also speaking at the Legatus Summit, am proud and delighted to be doing so, and will not change my mind no matter what a gang of censorship thugs and their enablers do and say. I suppose, Mr. Newhart, that I care more about freedom, truth, courage and democracy than I do about being slandered.

I speak to Legatus chapters all over North America, and of the hundreds of members I have met none has expressed a bigoted remark to me or said anything in any way unpleasant about gay people. They are Christians, and as such believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, but they are also kind and loving. You see, the only people who seem to obsess about gay issues are gay radicals.

The other point is that as far as I know not one speaker intended to even mention homosexuality, and I certainly had no intention of doing so. I will now, and I am sure I will not be alone. Nor have I escaped the censure and threats of some gay radicals and just recently one extremist tried to influence advertisers to abandon my employers at Sun News in an effort to have me fired. He failed, utterly and miserably. Other attempts have been in the past, but I like to think I have established enough of a reputation both with those who pay my wages and with the many moderates in the gay community to be able to defend my position and my right to freedom of speech.

Do be wary of some who claim that they have suffered because of all this, in that we have to appreciate context and backstory. I know full well the influence and intolerance of gay radicals, but I also know how some Christians can claim martyrdom when the truth is a little more nuanced and may involve their own past behavior and current attitudes as much as anything else.

Be that as it may, the battle for the right of moral conservatives to speak their mind without fear of attack is authentic and sometimes painful. Oddly enough, the very day the Robertson nonsense became public there was an episode of Law and Order UK on the television, with the preposterous plot line of a devout Christian policeman allowing a fellow officer to die in the line of duty because the man was gay. Lawyers and cops were angry and shocked at the fatal hatred of these awful Christians; a far from unique example of anti-Christian propaganda. My response to the libel was to watch a different show.

This was virtual hate speech, what the Duck Dynasty fellow said was mere difference of opinion. Grow up you little fascists, grow up.

 Michael Coren’s latest book is The Future of Catholicism. He can be booked for speeches at www.michaelcoren.com