That would seem to be the conclusion of Chris Hedges, a former New York Times reporter who now turns out hateful screeds against evangelical Christians. The Volokh Conspiracy quotes from Hedges’ book, American Fascists:
This is the awful paradox of tolerance. There arise moments when those who would destroy the tolerance that makes an open society possible should no longer be tolerated. They must be held accountable by institutions that maintain the free exchange of ideas and liberty.
The radical Christian Right must be forced to include other points of view to counter their hate talk in their own broadcasts, watched by tens of millions of Americans. They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication. They must be made to treat their opponents with respect and acknowledge the right of a fair hearing even as they exercise their own freedom to disagree with their opponents.
Passivity in the face of the rise of the Christian Right threatens the democratic state. And the movement has targeted the last remaining obstacles to its systems of indoctrination, mounting a fierce campaign to defeat hate-crime legislation, fearing the courts could apply it to them as they spew hate talk over the radio, television and Internet.
Just in case there’s any question about what Hedges is advocating, Professor Volokh continues with a citation from National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program last week:
JIM (Caller): Yes. Yes, I am. I needed to ask the author — I mean, I myself am a Christian, but I wouldn’t even somewhat agree with Pat Roberts. But the author stating that you need to restrict someone’s free speech just for mere words, he’s advocating — I mean, what he’s advocating is fascism, is he (unintelligible)? …
Mr. HEDGES: I think that, you know, in a democratic society, people don’t have a right to preach the extermination of others, which has been a part of this movement of – certainly in terms of what should be done with homosexuals. You know, Rushdoony and others have talked about 18 moral crimes for which people should be executed, including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and all – in order for an open society to function, it must function with a mutual respect, with a respect…
Mr. HEDGES: …for other ways to be and other ways to believe. And I think that the fringes of this movement have denied people that respect, which is why they fight so hard against hate crimes legislation — such as exist in Canada — being made law in the United States.
[NEAL] CONAN: But Chris, to be fair, aren’t you talking about violating their right to free speech, their right to religion as laid out in the First Amendment?
Mr. HEDGES: Well, I think that when you preach — or when you call for the physical extermination of other people within the society, you know, you’ve crossed the bounds of free speech. I mean, we’re not going to turn a cable channel over to the Ku Klux Klan. Yet the kinds of things that are allowed to be spewed out over much of Christian radio and television essentially preaches sedition. It preaches civil war. It’s not a difference of opinion. With that kind of rhetoric, it becomes a fight for survival….
The reference to “Rushdoony” is to R. J. Rushdoony, the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist movement that advocates applying Old Testament law to American criminal law. Well, it’s not exactly a movement. It’s more like a couple of kooks (Rushdoony’s son-in-law Gary North and Greg L. Bahnsen, and a handful of others no one’s ever heard of) tirelessly working to push a collection of ideas that no one is interested in. Christian Reconstructionism and its evil twin, “Dominion Theology,” are being thrown up by certain secular and far-left types as somehow representative of evangelical thought and political goals, despite their utter marginality. (Others who have spilled ink warning about the apocalyptic influence of Rushdoonyism include Michelle Goldberg of Salon.com, political analyst Kevin Phillips, and Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee.) Truth is, people like Hedges sound more like 1950s John Birchers in their methodology (bringing together far flung, out-of-context, and irrelevant quotations from disparate sources, then tying their sources to one another through guilt-by-association, and then pronouncing it all proof of a giant conspiracy). What’s different is that he’s thought of as a mainstreamer by virtue of his previous work at the Times and NPR, and he’s essentially advocating repeal of the First Amendment as it effects those with whom he has political or religious disagreements. Oh, and his book is #41 on Amazon’s best-seller list.
(Thanks to the wonderful Anglican site Stand Firm for the heads-up.)