The Governor’s statement today announcing his veto of SB 236 was at once intellectually incoherent while at the same time frighteningly intolerant. It gives us, however, some real insight into the ideology of this Governor, his party, and the political left, and into their intellectual feebleness when it comes to the first amendment. Just a couple of phrases from his statement are particularly revealing.
The Governor says, “…the bill actually infringes on students’ rights to be free from coercive prayer and religious messaging at both voluntary and required school events.”
There are so many things wrong with just that statement, from both a Constitutional perspective and a logic perspective, that it’s hard to know where to begin, but here’s a shot:
1. There is absolutely no Constitutional right to be “free” from hearing messages you don’t like. None. Not anywhere. Not in the Constitution, anyway. There may be some penumbra made up by SCOTUS that claims such a right exists, but that’s not a Constitutional right, it’s a made-up, government created “right.”
2. How in the world can someone be “coerced” into hearing anything at an event where attendance voluntary? Read the statement. The Governor is basically saying that, even at events you don’t have to be at, your “right” to be free from hearing a message you don’t like is absolute. Even if one buys the coercion argument for required school events, transposing that to voluntary events is intellectual gymnastics at its worst.
3. What defines a “coercive prayer and religious message”? How are words coercive? If that’s the case, the First Amendment is the most dangerous statement in the free world because it protects people using words, which according to this governor, are in and of themselves, coercive!! Or is it only religious words that are coercive? Not political words? Or only words he doesn't like? Or the ACLU doesn't like? When is a prayer or religious message not coercive?
Later in his statement, McAuliffe says, SB 236 is “not necessary to ensure students’ freedom of religious expression. The freedom of religious expression is already protected from intrusion by Virginia school divisions.”
Wait…what? You just spent half your statement arguing that religious expression is dangerous and coercive and implied that it shouldn’t be allowed, and then you argue, “But hey, it’s all good, cause it’s already protected. Drinks are on me!”
Okay, I made that last part up. But seriously, only the left can get away with such intellectual nonsense and have it go completely unchallenged by the media. On the one hand, the Governor argues religious speech is dangerous and shouldn’t be protected but then he says it’s already protected, so what’s the big deal? Talk about trying to have it both ways.
There’s more to his overall statement that is simply nonsensical, but those two phrases are just so incoherent and illogical it’s painful to realize they came from the Governor of Virginia, where we once had people who wrote things like the Statute for Religious Freedom.
Only the ACLU would be proud of this nonsense.