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There were several conservatives who were hopeful that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would jump in the Republican presidential race. I was not one of them. Christie's subsequent endorsement of Mitt Romney demonstrated why: though certainly holding fast to some conservative principles when it comes to fiscal policy (for now), Christie is not a three-pronged (ie, full) conservative.
His recent performance on the free speech and traditional family front demonstrates what I mean. Let's set the stage, courtesy of Janet LaRue's report at Townhall.com:
Christie told CNN's Piers Morgan on June 15 that he doesn't think homosexuality is a sin even though his religion does. To be sure that the citizens of New Jersey are aware of Christie's beliefs, the interview and transcript are posted on the official New Jersey web site. Okay, that's his opinion. But read on.
Actually, let's stop for just a second and acknowledge what that says about Christie. He's a do-it-yourself brand of Christian. He knows better than God's Word. He's got it figured out. God's inspiration of Biblical authors worked in some places, but not in all, and Christie has a good feel for what parts we can just ignore or skip over. It aint Burger King, Governor, it's the Word of God. Sheesh. Okay, so that's the religious problem Christie has - he's a part time humanist. But then comes the free speech issue that is simply unacceptable:
New Jersey high school teacher Viki Knox may have been inspired by Christie's comments to think that it was okay for a New Jersey public employee to express an opinion about homosexuality, as if the First Amendment is alive and well in New Jersey.
Knox believes homosexuality is a sin. She posted her belief, not on an official school web site, but on her personal Facebook page. The Union High School District is investigating Knox to determine if she violated school policies.
If Knox's First Amendment rights aren't shed at the schoolhouse gate, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., surely her rights aren't shed at the gate of her house:
"First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
According to Jeanette Rundquist and Peggy McGlone writing for the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Oct. 18:
"Knox, 49, used her Facebook page to criticize a display in her Union Township school marking Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month. She called homosexuality a ?perverted spirit' and a ?sin' that ?breeds like cancer.'"
Christie could have seized the chance to shed his reputation as a "bully" of New Jersey teachers and educate his constituents on the First Amendment. He is a lawyer, after all. And Tinker was on the books when Christie attended law school. At a minimum, he should have declined to comment pending the outcome of the investigation.
Instead, Christie weighed in against Knox, giving impetus to homosexual activists and others who are demanding that Knox be fired. He told 77 WABC Radio host Joe Crummey:
"I think that kind of example is not a positive one at all to be setting for folks who have such an important and influential position in our society. I'm really concerned about those kinds of statements being made."
Christie thinks Knox's comments justify investigating her conduct in the classroom. His comments jeopardize Knox's due process rights to a fair and impartial hearing.
So let's put this plainly: a true conservative would not have answered this situation in this way. A true conservative stands up for traditional morality, stands against the ridiculous leftist posturing that says any speech that contradicts the left's agenda is hate speech, understands the difference between right and wrong - morality and immorality, and defends the free speech rights of his fellow American.
But not Chris Christie. He's more than ready to jump on board with the liberal social crusade and toss a few faithful Christian believers under the bus along the way. Some had suggested that he's one of the Mitch Daniels-style "trucers." I don't think so. Mitch was wrong in thinking you could call a truce with those who are in the midst of a cultural revolution. They have no interest in a truce and would keep pursuing their agenda. Christie is a tad different. He isn't sitting idly by waving a white flag. No, he's helping advance their cause and has joined the left's cultural revolution himself.
Newsflash Mr. Christie, it is possible for a Christian to morally object to homosexuality and do so out of love and concern for another person. It's the same response we have to other sins. Not endorsing, encouraging and embracing something is not equivalent to bullying people. However, going on a radio show as the chief executive of the state and browbeating citizens for having and speaking to their convictions comes a lot closer.