The First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”) is for all Americans. I know that seems obvious, but the folks at Salon seem to need a reminder.
Jenny Kutner has taken offense to a group of Catholic women expressing their opinion. The topic is birth control. (Let me just say that good Christians disagree on this topic. I’m not discussing the legitimate use of artificial birth control here, but rather the right to express one’s opinion on the topic.) In response to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Hobby Lobby, Buzzfeed featured a group of women holding signs that expressed why they chose to use birth control. About a week later, Buzzfeed featured another group of women who held up signs explaining why they chose not to use artificial birth control. And that’s when Kutner lost it.
She began by pointing out that women who don’t use birth control represent less than 1 percent of American women. Then, she claimed that the reasons given by the women who don’t use birth control were “totally putative,” showed a lack of understanding of how birth control works (everyONE knows Christians don’t grasp science, right?), and “preachy.” All of their responses, Kutner says, are “scary;” clearly these women are “anti-feminist” and they don’t know the facts of reproduction. Their thinking, Kutner opines, is “yet another example of twisted understandings of religion being used to control sex and sexuality, particularly for women.”
Here’s the thing. These signs could have featured a group of vegans and a group of meat-lovers, people who were proud of their fit physiques and those who are happy being larger than average, or one group of folks who loved a daily cocktail and another that believed alcohol is evil. Both sides have a legitimate right to express their opinions. We may disagree – in fact, in the human experience, we WILL disagree about some things. Calling the other side names, telling them their are ignorant, and “twisted”? That’s a middle-school, note-passing, mean girl response.
The First Amendment applies to everyone: minorities, Catholics, conservatives, people we don’t like. The women featured on Buzzfeed on both sides of this issue get this. Why doesn’t Salon?
The Law was originally published in French in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat and is the work for which Bastiat is most famous. This translation to American English is from 1874.