Even Intolerant Fools Deserve Free Speech

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 8, 2008 — 6 Comments

On Monday, the city of Salem will be hearing the case of Michael Marcavage, founder of Repent America, who was arrested on Halloween night on charges of disorderly conduct.

“A “Witch City” trial is scheduled Monday for a street preacher who was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct for expressing his belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ on a public street in Salem, Mass., on Halloween night in 2007. “Michael [Marcavage] is guilty of nothing more than preaching the Gospel,” said Ben DuPre, an attorney with former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, who is representing Marcavage.”

Michael Marcavage

Let there be no mistake, Marcavage is an intolerant caricature of true Christianity, an annoying hate-monger who hopes to “win” people to Jesus by threatening them with hellfire and damnation. Marcavage travels every year with a cadre of followers to harangue and cajole the thousands of Witches, Pagans, and merry-makers at Salem’s yearly Halloween festivities. An activity that has seen him come into conflict with local Christians, and made him a part of the circus-like atmosphere of the city. This along with other inconceivably stupid statements concerning God’s wrath, have made Marcavage something of a folk-hero among ultra-conservative born-again Christians.

However, if the video posted by Repent America accurately portrays the (alleged) events of Halloween night, then Marcavage’s First-Amendment rights were indeed violated.

Freedom of speech means that Repent America can publicly expound on our sinfulness all they want, so long as they don’t break other laws in transmitting that message. This freedom, in turn, grants Witches, Pagans, and other idealogical opponents of Repent America (a long, long list) the right to vociferously disagree. If on Monday the evidence truly points to the narrative portrayed in that video, all charges should be dropped, and the officers in question should be investigated for misconduct.

Of course, there is always the chance that there is more to this situation than meets the eye. We have no idea what transpired before that video clip, it is entirely possible that these would-be Christian crusaders did indeed engage in “disorderly conduct”. Many of these street-preaching/protesting organizations knowingly push at the boundaries of the law, engaging in activities that are little better than group harassment and intimidation. Then, once arrested, portray a monolithic government out to silence Christianity in order to boost monetary contributions (and status within certain Christian circles).

So whether Marcavage was “calmly preaching the gospel”, or spitting hellfire at the crowds of heathens, even intolerant fools deserve free speech. However, if Repent America was breaking the law, painting yourself as a First Amendment victim will only work for so long.

Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Hecate

    Well, at least they didn’t burn him.

  • Robin Edgar

    Jason there were, and still are. . . some very clear parallels between what happened in Salem and what Montreal Unitarian U*Us have been doing for years. Why did you “memory hole” aka cover up and hide my comment that pointed out how Montreal Unitarians have repeatedly misused and abused the Canadian Criminal Code and Montreal municipal bylaws in deeply misguided and outrageously hypocritical attempts to misuse state law in order to impose Unitarian Church censorship on my peaceful public protest against the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of “Humanist U*Us and other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy?

  • Robin Edgar

    And please don’t try to argue that there was no connection with paganism in my comment. I made it quite clear in my comment that pagans, U*U pagans and otherwise, have been subjected to similar anti-religious intolerance and bigotry by “Humanist” Unitarian*Universalists. One thing I did not say but which is also pertinent here is that Creation Day, the inter-religious celebration of Creation, that Rev. Ray Drennan and other “Humanist” leaders of the Unitarian Church of Montreal falsely and maliciously labeled as a “cult”, had very strong participation from the Montreal Pagan Grove. Although Montreal pagans were initially wary of participating in an inter-religious event with Christians and Muslims etc. and vice versa. . . the Montreal Pagan Grove did decide to participate and peformed a complete Circle of Power ritual in full view of all other participants except those who walked out of the church or hid in the kitchen. 😉

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    Robin, I have told you on more than one occasion that this web site isn’t a forum for you to detail your troubles with the Montreal UUs. It doesn’t matter if you mention Pagans or not, I am telling you that this isn’t the forum for discussion of your ongoing conflict.I have let you plant links to your web site on several posts for anyone interested to follow, but I draw the line at rants only tangentially connected to the subject at hand. Which is why I deleted your post. Not to throw your conflict down the “memory hole”. If you want to continue this conversation, e-mail me privately.

  • Robin Edgar

    The general subjects of this blog post are religious intolerance, freedom of speech, public protest, and the apparent unconstitutional police suppression of free speech. My alleged “rant” about how “intolerant fools” at the Unitarian Church of Montreal have repeatedly misused and abused the Canadian Criminal Code and Montreal city bylaws in outrageously hypocritical attempts to censor and suppress my peaceful public protest against U*U anti-religious intolerance and bigotry was thus by no means only “tangentially connected to the subject at hand”. As my follow-up comment to the original comment that you “memory-holed” says, there are “some very clear parallels between what happened in Salem and what Montreal Unitarian U*Us have been doing for years.” My “rant” was very much on topic to the serious issues raised in this blog post. In fact the highly questionable, and now repeated. . . misuse and abuse of the Canadian Criminal Code by Montreal Unitarians is arguably a worse case of misuse of the law (aka malicious prosecution) to attempt to suppress constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and peaceful public protest than what happened in Salem. That is my final word here unless you choose to contest it but I believe that it should be public so that your readers can make up their minds about this matter rather than privately sent in an email.

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    I repeat, this web site isn’t a forum for you to detail your troubles with the Montreal UUs. Something I have explained to you before. You can accept that, or you can choose to not comment. Further comments on this subject are closed.