For two decades Ive told people my job is to fight for their rights and never was this truer than on Saturday. I had come from Chicago to defend free speech and oppose an archaic, unconstitutional blasphemy law that was being enforced by a rogue District Attorney in Bedford, Pennsylvania.
The DA, Bill Higgins, was viciously targeting a 14-year-old teenager after he posted an obscene photo on Facebook in which he was simulating oral sex with a ceramic Jesus yard gnome. Of course, this prank was offensive or what some might call being a teenager. However, the self-righteous Higgins took it upon himself to be the great defender of Christendom and threw the book(s) the Bible and the Law at this young man.
This religiously motivated action was quite odd coming from Higgins, who hasnt exactly been a pillar of morality. For example, six years ago the renegade District Attorney admitted to having sex in his courthouse office with a woman following a meeting of the Bedford County Republicans, in which he then served as vice-chair. His sexual liaison accused him of sexual assault and sued him, but the charges were eventually dropped.
Higgins decided to prosecute the child under an obscure Pennsylvania law which states that desecration includes physically mistreating [objects] in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.
While Higgins maintains that he is simply an upstanding district attorney who wishes to uphold a Pennsylvania blasphemy law, his own statements on this case betray that claim. In an interview with local media, Higgins stated:
This troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of our community. His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments crowd, I make no apologies.
I guess if anyone should know about desecrating Christianity it is Higgins, who seems to be a troubled man who is desperately battling his private demons on the public stage at the expense of a teenage boy. By making this incendiary statement, it is clear that Higgins is more of a frustrated right-wing ideologue than a responsible district attorney. Instead of fighting real crime, Higgins is fighting a culture war.
Which brings us back to Saturday. Three organizations, American Atheists, Pennsylvania Non-Believers, and Truth Wins Out, which I am the Executive Director, held a successful protest, where several dozen people rallied in favor of free speech.
Unfortunately, it was marred when a belligerent group of counter protesters, including two from what appeared to be a motorcycle gang, crashed the protest and threatened those in attendance, including me and the 14-year old boy arrested for suggestively posing with the Jesus statue.
Read more here:
Protecting Free Speech is Worth Fighting For