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Lively Responds to Lawsuit

Jim Burroway

March 15th, 2012

Scott Lively yesterday responded to the lawsuit filed in Federal District Court by Sexual Minorities Uganda alleging that Lively engaged in a decade-long effort to help plan and encourage the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda in violation of international law. Lively defends his actions as the simple exercise of his freedom of speech, telling The New York Times, ““That’s about as ridiculous as it gets. I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.” He also told Bob Unruh at World Net Daily:

I am an American citizen [being targeted] over the persecution of homosexuals as they define it as a crime against humanity – for speaking the truth of the Bible in a foreign country,” Scott Lively, of Abiding Truth Ministries, told WND today after he found out about the legal action.

Warren Throckmorton responded to that rather quickly:

Where does the Bible say that homosexuality is responsible for the Holocaust? For the Rwandan genocide? That gays are pedophiles? Are those Biblically based beliefs?

Warren also notes that Exodus International board member Don Scmmierer and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge also spoke at that 2009 conference, but neither of them are named in this lawsuit.

Lively also told World Net Daily:

“Frankly, I don’t this is actionable,” Lively told WND. “They make it clear that this suit is … premised on speeches or writings.

“I spoke to members of parliament in their assembly hall, and advised them to focus on therapy and not punishment [for homosexuality],” he said.

“What they’re suggesting here is that the duly elected legislative representatives of Uganda, the cream of Ugandan society, cannot be responsible for their own [legislative] actions – that they adopted legislation because a white evangelical came and said something to them,” he said.

Casting this in racial terms is desperate. The complaint also notes that Lively has traveled to Moldova, Russia and Latvia with similar goals. The measure if his influence in those areas are mixed. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, notes that there was a clear difference in the atmosphere for LGBT people in Uganda after 2009 when compared to the time before that fateful 2009 conference.

Lively’s strongest argument so far however is his contention that “this suit is … premised on speeches or writing.” The Center for Constitutional Rights senior staff attorney Pam Spees emphasized that the suit is not about his speeches or beliefs, but about a series of planning meetings that took place since 2002 that reached its fruition in the events of 2009. “He was the go-to guy,” she told reporters in a conference call, “the man with the plan.” The challenge in court will be for CCR to provide enough evidence to support their contention of that plan to keep the lawsuit away from being solely about Lively’s speech and beliefs.

While speech alone cannot be the sole basis for this lawsuit (It would, and should, be thrown out immediately if it is), I can envision that Lively’s speeches can be a major part of the evidence presented. Since Lively opened the subject of the Rwandan genocide during his talk in Kampala in 2009, let me return to those events as an example. As the Hutu militias were engaged in a bloodthursty orgy of murder and mayhem in 1994, they were urged on by radio announcers broadcasting anti-Tutsi propaganda, complete with announcements of which Tutu’s live where so that mobs could find them. Were the radio announcers simply exercising free speech? Or were they accomplices in crimes against humanity? International law sides with the latter.

When Lively appeared on Ugandan media, he too broadcast his own virulent brand of anti-gay propaganda, although he didn’t call out people by name and address and urge that they be hunted down. His friends did that instead. Mercifully, Uganda did not slide into genocide, although the proposal before Uganda’s Parliament, if enacted into law, would result in a state-sanctioned outcome that would be remarkably similar. (Lively disavows the proposed death penalty, although he struggled with it a while before finally deciding that it was not something that he would support.) The real question, then, is what specific role did Lively play, in addition to his public talks, which led to the events of 2009? That is CCR’s challenge before the court.

Finally, Lively also had this response for the Associated Press:

“Most of the ostensibly inflammatory comments attributed to me are from selectively edited video clips of my 2009 seminars in Kampala,” he said. “I challenge the plaintiffs and their allies to publish the complete footage of the seminar on the Internet. They will not do this or their duplicity would be exposed.”

It’s my understanding that the Kampala-based Family Life Network, who sponsored the 2009 conference, owns the copyright to the video. While it is legal to publish excerpts of the video under the “fair use” clauses of U.S. copyright law, it would be illegal for anyone who is not the copyright owner to post the entire video. Why hasn’t Stephen Langa’s Family Life Network published the video? Who knows. It’s theirs to do as they wish. But by not publishing it, they leave the door open for Lively to complain about “selectively edited clips.”

Comments

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Priya Lynn
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

If Lively loses can he go to prison, or would he just be charged a financial penalty?

StraightGrandmother
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

And notice the name of the group “Sexual Minorities Uganda”

I so wish I could convince bloggers to try an experiment for one week, to replace LGBT with the words “Sexual Minorities” Just try it for one week only and see how your messages surrounding those words are transformed and elevated.

Timothy Kincaid
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

If I read this correctly, Lively is not being held responsible for:

* speeches
* writing
* beliefs

but is being tried for

* attending meetings
* being “the man with the plan”
* being “the go-to guy”

Perhaps they should review the arguments of Roy Cohn. I believe he made similar distinctions and may have some points they can borrow.

But in this latest round of media, I find Simms even more troubling. I see no claim that Lively was involved in writing the Rolling Stone, crafting or passing the legislation, killing David Kato, or actually “persecuting” anyone. By “go-to guy” and “man with the plan”, Simms really means that Lively was the one whose views were being advanced – the “ideas” guy.

And her suggestion that it isn’t the content of his beliefs for which Lively should be tried, but for the effectiveness with which he articulated them seems to me rather improbably.

I do not share Simm’s beliefs that ideas which she finds abhorrent should be illegal as well. I can easily see some of my beliefs violating Simm’s standards for international acceptability.

Timothy Kincaid
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

SG,

I appreciate your campaign for “sexual minorities” and understand the goodness in your heart behind it.

And it is undoubtedly true that this term would appeal to some people. But it would have the opposite visceral reaction in others.

And having fought for so long to be seen as a part of nature’s diversity rather than a small handful of people engaging in abnormal sex acts, I would not want to adopt a term that defined our existence as “people who don’t have sex the way the rest of us do”.

Timothy Kincaid
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

By the way, I very much hate defending the rights of people like Lively. It can appear to the less-careful reader as though I’m defending the man or his views.

Perhaps it’s useful to know that in this process, while Lively is the target in this example I’m really not defending Lively’s right to rail against people like me; I’m actually defending my right to rail against people like him.

Jim Burroway
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

Her name is Spees, not Simms.

If all this case is about is speech, then the case is built on sand and should be dismissed very quickly.

But if there is evidence behind SMUG’s charge that Lively helped to organize and launch a concerted effort to persecute gay people (and that is the complaint, not that he said a lot of nasty things) — in the same way that hate groups have done similar acts here in the U.S. in our own history — then should that not be brought before the court?

Are you suggesting that there is no difference between giving a speech (which is protected) and engaging in a conspiracy to foment violence against a class of people?

Admittedly, there is a huge grey area inbetween. And I’m not saying that Lively is guilty of the latter. But if he is and there is evidence of it, does that not make him liable for the outcome of his actions?

Or is everything the man does off limits because of the First Amendment? Because that seems to be what you’re arguing.

Jim Burroway
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

Priya,

To answer your question, no he cannot go to prison. This is a civil case.

Jim Burroway
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

I want to add one more thing personally. My comments do not reflect whether I think this case is wise or not. I think CCR would have to have a whole lot more to show than what is in the complaint before this should go forward. I have no idea what their plans are for witnesses, testimony, evidence, etc. I’m interested in seeing what they have when the rubber hits the road, and to be honest, I think it will be an extremely difficult case to prove. If I were a betting man, I’d probably bet that Lively will prevail.

But civil cases are brought when people experience real, legitimate harms because of the actions of other people. If SMUG can prove that their harms came as a result of Lively’s actions, then I see no reason why they should not be allowed to pursue their claim in court.

Jim Burroway
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

It looks like we’re online at about the same time Timothy. I just saw your third comment. It makes me wonder if maybe we should have some kinda public chat app for this thing?

Anyway, I appreciate what you’re trying to defend. I don’t think whatever the outcome of this case would be, that anyone should be prohibited from “railing” against anyone. But there’s “railing” and then there’s railing.

Lynn David
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

I doubt if anything can come of this. It reminds me of John Metzger’s trial for his role in inciting neo-Nazi skinheads in Portland, Oregon. But the connection is even more tenuous than that.

Lynn David
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

Although it just struck me that Exodus came ‘near’ to apologizing for the conferenc with their letter to M7, which was belatedly signed by Schmierer. That could be somewhat evidence of remorse and a guilty conscious, something that Lively has, of course, never allowed to show.

Bernie
March 15th, 2012 | LINK

Jim, et al, As I said to Warren, I say to you, Bravo! Bravo, Gentlemen!

Warner
March 16th, 2012 | LINK

It should be known that american’s only have freedom of speech in America, and countries that grant freedom of speech to visitors… If i remeber correctly, uganda is not one of them.

Timothy Kincaid
March 16th, 2012 | LINK

Jim

Lively helped to organize and launch a concerted effort to persecute gay people.

Oh Noes!!! Lock him up!!!

Yes he wants to treat gay people badly. That’s not a secret. He advocated for the mistreatment of gay people.

I dunno. I guess it’s a left/right thing. I just can’t bring myself to believe that wanting to enact social rejection and cultural intolerance of people whom you believe are engaging in destructive behavior is an international crime.

Maybe it’s because I WANT to persecute child molesting priests and right-wing bigots.

Timothy Kincaid
March 16th, 2012 | LINK

And Jim I think it is constructive when we disagree. In an odd way it works against the group think, my camp, good guys v.evil guys thinking that is the enemy of progress.

DavidinWashington
March 16th, 2012 | LINK

Isn’t it funny that a hater can’t take the heat. If you’re gonna hate, you better be prepared for what comes afterward. HOLD ALL HATERS ACCOUNTABLE!

Timothy Kincaid
March 16th, 2012 | LINK

ALL haters, David?

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