Is the First Amendment for Everyone?

By Charlene E Campbell
Featured Rightgrrl December 1998

Recently in the news there was a story about a pro-life group out of Oregon who owned a web site called "The Nuremberg Files". This web site listed the names and addresses of abortionists across the country. The site claimed that these men and women were war criminals and should be tried as such by the courts. Unfortunately, they took it a step further by crossing off the name of any abortionist who was murdered. Not only was this tasteless and inhumane, but it also implied that somehow the pro-life movement was involved in these horrific murders. Most pro-life groups would agree with their pro-choice counterparts that this site was offensive and morally inexcusable.

The question is not whether or not "The Nuremberg Files" was offensive: It was. The question is, did it deserve to be shut down given our first amendment right to free speech? The only time that free speech can be legally squelched is when it is slanderous or when it incites undo panic or violence. In light of this I would argue that no, the site should not have been taken off of the internet. The assessment that abortion is a war crime and abortionists should be tried as war criminals are matters of opinion. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. Noone called for their murder…they called for them to be arrested as criminals and tried in a court. Crossing off the names of murdered abortionists was tasteless, but I truly do not believe that it incited anyone to undo panic or violence.

The bottom line is that everyone has the right to free speech in this country whether or not we like their opinions: Everyone, it seems, but a few less than tactful pro-lifers.

The Ku Klux Klan marches down the streets of African-American neighborhoods spewing hate-filled rhetoric. The American Civil Liberties Union even defends the KKK's right to do this because it is their first amendment right.

Pornography has been proven to be a tool used by child molesters and sexual predators. The images on the pages of the books, magazines, and internet sites are a part of their sick rituals to harm other human beings. The government refuses to put an end to pornography based on the first amendment right to free speech.

If these activities are allowed in the name of the first amendment then anything should be allowed. Yet pro-life groups, who in no way fall into the same category as the KKK and pornographers, have their rights taken away continually.

Pro-life groups cannot even counsel women outside of abortion clinics without a judge imposing a "bubble-zone" on them. Telling them where they can and cannot stand on a PUBLIC sidewalk. Pro-life groups cannot do anything without the fear that they will be sued under FACE or RICO, which have now been interpreted in such broad ways that other activist organizations are beginning to take notice and become fearful.

In the case of the Nuremberg Files, it was argued that this group violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) law. The prosecution argued that because the site crossed off the names of murdered abortionist and called them war criminals, an environment of fear was created. This environment made it uncomfortable for abortionists, clinic workers, and patients to enter the abortion mill. Therefore, they argued, this was a violation of FACE. This website was said to limit a woman's access to abortion.

Joe Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League were sued under the RICO statute. They claimed that he was in the business of trying to shut down the abortion industry and that was considered racketeering. A part of the evidence that was presented by the prosecution was that Mr. Scheidler organized meetings once a year between his group and other pro-life organizations to share ideas and strategies. This was considered a conspiracy against the abortion industry.

What is next? Who is next? What is wrong with all of this? Why is it that the groups who scream the loudest that others are violating their rights are the same groups who work tooth and nail to limit the rights of others?

A perfect example of this is happening on university campuses all across America. A group called the "Center for Bio-ethical Reform" is engaged in a project called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). GAP is a display of large signs which depict the similarities between the genocide of the Holocaust, the Black slaves in America, the American Indians, and the Cambodians under Pol Pot with the Genocide that has taken place against the world's unborn children. The signs are disturbing, but abortion and genocide are disturbing. You can not sugarcoat them. On every campus the pro-abortion camp has argued that the Center for Bio-ethical Reform has no right to be there. They have done everything they can to squelch CBR's first amendment right to show and tell the truth. They have pleaded with the administration. They have tried to block the display with protesters. They have tried to cut the signs with knives. They have tried to run the signs over with cars. The hypocrisy is almost comical.

Pro-abortion groups devalue their own platform by advocating the position that in order to secure their rights they must sacrifice the rights of the unborn. They do this again when they advocate silencing anyone who does not hold the same opinion as theirs. These groups want their rights to choose child-murder protected. However they do not want anyone who opposes their view to have the first amendment right to disagree with them. Once again, they show their true colors. They are willing to step all over the rights of others to ensure their own perceived freedoms. This is where they fail.

This article copyright © 1999 by Charlene E Campbell and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.