Chris Matthews brought his cable news show “Hardball” to Louisville yesterday. In advance of the mid-term elections next month, Matthews focused on Kentucky politics with students and faculty from the University of Louisville.
But in one segment, the conversation turned to U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck from Colorado. If you missed it, Buck appeared on “Meet the Press” last Sunday and answered a question about whether being gay is a choice. Buck said in no uncertain terms that homosexuality is a choice.
Chris Matthews brings in Representative John Yarmuth and gay activist Nicole Kersting to discuss Buck’s now infamous answer. There are a couple of items in this conversation worthy of brief comment.
1. Ken Buck gave a terrible answer to the question on “Meet the Press.” He was technically correct to say that gay people can “choose their partners,” but he opened himself to criticism when he gave the impression that sexual orientation itself is a choice. If he’s going to speak about this (which a smart politician probably wouldn’t), then he needs to refine the way he speaks about “nature vs. nurture” issues.
2. Even though Buck didn’t give a great response, it goes way over the top to call his answer “hate speech.” Yet that is exactly what Nicole Kersting does in her conversation with Chris Matthews. She goes on to say that speaking of homosexuality as a “sin” is also hate speech.
What caught my attention in this conversation is not the in’s and the out’s of the Colorado senate race (which I haven’t been following). What caught my attention was the casual discussion of what constitutes hate speech. If calling homosexuality a sin is hate speech, then every Bible-believing Christian would be guilty. Though some are concerned that Ken Buck gave a poor answer, I’m more concerned that Christian conviction is seen by many people in our society as hate speechâ€”which is, as you know, a category of speech that many people would like to outlaw.
There’s a lot at stake in the national discourse on homosexuality. This is just one more small example of how high the stakes really are.