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Kirk Cameron and freedom of speech
March 6, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
The 1980s "Growing Pains" star Kirk Cameron is taking quite a bit of heat for expressing opposition to gay marriage and calling homosexuality "unnatural" and "detrimental to civilization" during an interview on a cable talk show last week.
Cameron is an evangelical Christian who now works mainly in Christian ministry and makes evangelical Christian movies. I know and like too many people who are gay to agree with Cameron, but I also don't find his views as shocking as some of his critics appear to. They're based on a traditional conservative Christian stance and conservative churches from the Catholics to Baptists don't support gay marriage. They teach that being gay in and of itself is not a sin but gays and, in fact, all unmarried adults, should be celibate. It's hardly shocking that a conservative Christian responded to an interview question like a conservative Christian.
People obviously don't have to agree with those teachings and have every right to express vocal disagreement of Cameron's views. Critics have pointed out that Cameron's statements might negatively impact gay and lesbian teenagers, who already have a higher suicide rate and are more likely to be bullied at school. At the same time, I hope we never come to the point where conservative Christians are shouted down or people pressure them not to air their views in the public square. This is a country that should be big enough to let many viewpoints be expressed freely. The response from too many in the media, including The View's Joy Behar, is that Cameron should "just shut up."
Cameron made a valid point in his response to his critics on Tuesday: "I spoke as honestly as I could, but some people believe my responses were not loving toward those in the gay community. That is not true. I can assuredly say that it's my life's mission to love all people. I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."
He's right. In this country, the only proper response to speech you disagree with is more speech, preferably civil speech about why you disagree with a given position, not to tell someone to shut up.
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