Will this installment of “Common Sense” be subpoenaed by the City of Houston?
The city first subpoenaed the sermons of pastors who oppose a controversial equal-rights ordinance and who have “ties” to conservative activists suing the city. When that raised howls of protest, the city, in its infinite wisdom, issued new subpoenas for “speeches” by these pastors.
The difference between sermons and speeches? None.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance expands what counts as illegal discrimination in the workplace to include any based on sexual orientation or “gender identity or pregnancy.” The ordinance seeks to eradicate the “diminution of dignity, respect and status” that it declares must result from any unequal treatment — regardless of the reason — related to any of 15 or so protected characteristics. The vagueness and catch-all character of this further workplace regimentation would doubtless spawn new lawsuits by dignity-diminished employees eager to interpret motives in the most lawsuit-conducive light.
My point, though, is not about governmental bullying of employers and violation of their rights, but governmental bullying of critics of government policy and violation of their right to speak freely. Speech that vexes you is not thereby properly subject to legal action. Indeed, political speech is precisely the kind of feather-ruffling communication that the First Amendment was designed to protect.
Nobody would bother trying to curb the flow of sermons (or speeches) about the weather.
Houston needs to be sued again — for issuing all of these subpoenas.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.