A Mormon high school freshman who was being peppered with put-down questions about her faith before she told them, “That’s so gay,” was officially warned by her school’s principal for using “hate speech.” According to an Associated Press report, the student, Rebekah Rice, used a common teen comeback (which generally means “that’s so stupid”) when she was being teased with insulting questions, including, “Do you have 10 moms?”The question is, what punishment will the teasing teens receive for their initiating comments? After all, if we’re going to consider Rebekah’s comment to be hate speech, why shouldn’t they also be reprimanded for making fun of a person’s religion?
Some of my LDS friends might be surprised at my support for the LDS teen, but it’s no secret that people of religious faith–whether Mormon, Christian, even Muslim–are oftentimes harassed in public settings just for their religious preference and nothing more. I remember going through a California state college being mocked by both faculty and classmates for taking a stand in a class, such as insisting there was a God or that morals were absolute (God forbid!).
I’m not sure why the homosexual lobby gets special preference here. First of all, the article does not indicate if the people at whom Rebekah aimed her comment were homosexual. And if they were, where’s the “hate”? And just where will we stop with this idea of “hate speech”? Should we haul in a third grader who calls another kid a “moron”? Do we police everything anyone says? Is there not a First Amendment?
I’m not suggesting that there isn’t inappropriate speech, because there certainly is. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre (or the like) should not be tolerated. But c’mon, a defensive retort (and a common one, at that) to insulting questions should not be something in which a principal or attorneys need to become involved. As one attorney said, “Reasonable people should say, ‘Let’s put a stop to this kind of search-and-destroy mission by school officials for everything that is politically incorrect.'” Well said. Free Rebekah!