TWO Questions the Peculiar Relationship Between Bill Higgins and a Hooligan That Threatened Those Who Protested the DA
CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out today condemned the results of a juvenile court hearing in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, wherein rogue district attorney Bill Higgins prosecuted a fourteen year-old child for blasphemy after the child posted a picture of himself on Facebook simulating a sex act with a statue of Jesus. The child is on probation, banned from social media for six months, and must perform 350 hours of community service for offending the religious sensibilities of Bill Higgins. Further, the child is not allowed out of his home past 10 PM. The owners of the statue did not wish to prosecute the child, but Higgins, a big fish in a small pond who seems to value the right wing culture wars over the rights of his constituents, took up the charge on his own.
“This is an outrage and a blatant violation of the United States Constitution,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “It’s pitiful that this man’s sense of his own responsibilities is so malformed that he felt the need to go after a minor child who apparently hurt his feelings. We do hope Higgins feels like a big man today.”
Higgins released a statement on the case, explaining his reasoning:
“I know that there are many groups that say this case is about religious rights, and quite frankly, they are right,” said Higgins in a written statement. “But it is the religious rights of the Christian organization that owns the statue and has placed it for display on their private property that have been implicated. They have every right to practice their faith unmolested. In American, we all enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to practice our religious beliefs without interference, but that right ends where those same rights of another begin.”
Higgins’ contention that outside groups said the case was about religious rights is incorrect, as Truth Wins Out has noted from the beginning that this case is about freedom of speech, which includes the right to criticize religion. Moreover, if the members of the religious organization which owns the statue felt that their religious freedom had been violated, they didn’t show it, as, again, they did not wish to prosecute the child. Perhaps they have a better understanding of religious freedom than their District Attorney, who seems to believe that the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution includes the freedom to never have one’s beliefs challenged or feelings hurt. For the record, it does not. Higgins is correct that religious freedom ends when it begins to infringe upon another’s First Amendment rights, whether freedom of religion or freedom of speech.
“It’s unclear why Higgins brings up the limits of the First Amendment, considering the fact that in doing so he’s making our argument for us,” added TWO’s Besen. “Perhaps he is too busy claiming the mantle of religious persecution at the hands of a fourteen year-old child to realize the legal implications of his own quote.”
Truth Wins Out, joined by American Atheists and Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, protested this past Saturday in Bedford, Pennsylvania, speaking out strongly for the First Amendment rights of this teenager, and of all Americans. During the protest, at which no police protection was offered, organizers were confronted by a belligerent group of counter protesters, including two from what appeared to be a motorcycle gang. Further investigation by Truth Wins Out has revealed that the most vocal biker look-alike, who threatened attendees including the child in question, was Randy Delozier, owner of the Bedford County Free Press. Local residents have suggested that Delozier enjoys a close friendship with DA Higgins, and that just this year they have been photographed together amicably. Even stranger was the fact that Delozier repeatedly and loudly demanded that protest organizers not mention the DA’s past indiscretions, referring to the fact that Higgins was accused in 2008 of sexually assaulting a woman in his office. The case did not proceed after Pennsylvania’s then-attorney general Tom Corbett judged that there was not enough evidence to pursue charges against Higgins. It is reported that Higgins is a friend and close political ally of Corbett, who is now the governor of Pennsylvania. Truth Wins Out had never brought up Higgins’ history at the time of the protest.
“If it’s found that Higgins directed Delozier to threaten and frighten American citizens exercising their right to assemble and speak out, that is an offense of the utmost importance,” said Besen. “Higgins may believe he has the right to run Bedford County, Pennsylvania like a lawless banana republic, but the United States Department Of Justice would likely disagree.”
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.