California lawmakers are again attempting to set the groundwork for limiting religious beliefs and silencing those with differing opinions, beginning with law enforcement.
San Jose's Assembly Member Ash Kalra recently introduced a bill, AB-655, that, if passed, would ban police officers from serving their communities if they have used "hate speech" or are associated with any "hate groups."
The California Law Enforcement Accountability Reform Act or CLEAR Act states its purpose is to fight "the infiltration of extremists in our law enforcement agencies."
To achieve this, the bill would require a background check for all in law enforcement who have "exchanged racist and homophobic messages."
The bill's writer says it is vital to stop additional events like the Jan. 6 Capitol infiltration, which had "the apparent cooperation, participation, and support of some law enforcement."
Opposition To The CLEAR Act
Opponents of the bill are concerned with how the bill will be used. It says hate speech is "as advocating or supporting the denial of constitutional rights of, the genocide of, or violence towards, any group of persons based upon race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”
On the surface, it is a bill that is easy to agree with. However, Pacific Justice Institute Senior Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds is concerned that the bill's definition is too broad-based. The bill can allow Christians and conservatives to be called "hateful" if they do not approve of abortion or support same-sex marriage.
McReynolds also pointed out that the Muslim faith could be greatly affected by this bill since their mosques and followers have a solid anti-homosexuality stance.
“Under the guise of addressing police gangs, the bill at the same time launches an inexplicable, unwarranted, and unprecedented attack on peaceable, conscientious officers who happen to hold conservative political and religious views.” wrote Reynolds.
“Indeed, this is one of the most undisguised and appalling attempts we have ever seen, in more than 20 years of monitoring such legislation, on the freedom of association and freedom to choose minority viewpoints.”Matthew McReynolds
Between the Lines
While officers are public servants, they do not automatically forfeit their rights to having an opinion, and they are entitled to their religious beliefs.
The concerning part of this is that legislators will start disallowing law enforcement to hold opinions different from the majority and move on to everyone else.