Lively Responds to Lawsuit
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.”