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Viewpoint Neutrality Protects Both Drag Queens and Millions of American Christians

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09.09.2019

Late last week I debated Sohrab Ahmari at Catholic University. Our exchange was of course inspired by his broadside against me in May, a broadside that began (oddly enough) with a seemingly-random tweet about something called “drag queen story hour.” Sohrab wrote, “If you can’t see why children belong nowhere near drag, with its currents of transvestic fetishism, we have nothing to say to each other. We are irreconcilably opposed. There’s no polite, David French-ian third way around the cultural civil war. The only way is through.” This is the tweet that launched a thousand think-pieces.

Even though the battle over “Frenchism” began with a tweet about drag queens, I honestly did not expect that discussion of drag queens would consume so much of our debate (you can watch the whole thing here). Yet the question of how (or whether) the right should respond legally to drag queens in libraries permeated much of the proceedings. My position was simple — I don’t like drag queen reading hours, but I also want to preserve for all Americans the First Amendment-protected right of viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities when those facilities are opened up for public use. I don’t want the government dispensing access on the basis of its preferred messages or its preferred speakers. Handle bad speech with better speech. Counter bad speakers in the marketplace of ideas, not through the heavy hand of........

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