I appreciate that the Courier-Herald endeavored to spur thoughtful debate on the tension between the protections afforded Americans under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. Thoughtful consideration of the balance between the two is vital to protect the liberties that we enjoy.
However, I was dismayed that Mr. Miller-Still promptly undermined his attempt to fairly moderate the debate. Instead of framing the issues and allowing the readers to “form their own opinions on the matters at hand,” the editor chose to apply superfluous labels to Ms. Stutzman’s legal counsel. He admonishes the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as a “hate group”. This designation is applied by the Southern Poverty Law Center – an organization to which the reader is implicitly expected to abrogate their own critical faculties. Perhaps the ADF has a track record of blatant discrimination; however, Mr. Miller-Still never tells his readers what the firm has done to earn this moniker, yet they are expected to trust that it is warranted. Furthermore, the ADF is “right-wing” and “extreme”, two rather imprecise phrases that are subject to wide interpretation, but are used in this context to sow skepticism. Regardless, the labels present a smokescreen and are irrelevant to the issues. Alas, no broad characterizations are presented to describe the state’s assumedly measured intentions.
I agree with Mr. Miller-Still that “extreme bias should be met with extreme scrutiny”. I suppose we must look elsewhere for a moderator to lead a measured debate.