Two months ago I blogged on a strange religiofascist crew from out-of-state who decided to protest in front of a mosque in Bridgeport, Connecticut, screaming “Islam is a lie!” at it, among other things. At the time, I had never heard of their leader, Flip Benham, and assumed him to just be some run-of-the-mill hyperreligious nutjob with a lot of time on his hands. But authorities in North Carolina have known who he is; they prosecuted him for harassing doctors and he was recently convicted of this, as station WSOC TV-9 in Charlotte, NC explains (WebCite cached article):
A local pastor was found guilty Monday of stalking a doctor who performs abortions. He was sentenced to 24 months probation and plans to appeal.
Reverend “Flip” Benham posted wild west-style “Wanted” posters which gave the doctor’s name and home address. Benham said this was a free speech issue, that he has a constitutional right to speak his mind.
Now, I was surprised by a few things about this story. For example, the Connecticut Post had reported back in August that Benham was from Dallas, Texas (cached article). That turns out not to have been the case … he is, instead, from Concord, NC. I also had not realized he’s an ordained minister, of the Free Methodist Church, but he is. I also had not realized he was a founder of Operation Rescue … I’d thought that had Randall Terry had been its founder.
Quite aside from all of this, however, Benham is obviously off his rocker. And now, he’s a convict. His defense for what he did is rather thin:
Benham replied, “Nobody has gone and killed because [he or she] saw a poster. That is most absurd and logical fallacy that there possibly could be.”
First of all, as a ferocious religionist and fascist at heart, Benham wouldn’t know what a “fallacy” was, if one smashed him in the face and knocked him to the ground. Second, that Benham included the doctor’s face and address makes evident his intention to intimidate the doctor, at the very least. The Flipster may be free to practice his religion, but that freedom is not a license to harass or intimidate others, and intimidating or harassing speech is not protected by the First Amendment.
Photo credit: marklyon.Tags: abortion, abortion doctor, abortion rights, anti-abortion, charlotte, charlotte NC, christian, christian right, Christianity, christians, concord NC, flip benham, harassment, hyperreligiosity, hyperreligious, north carolina, operation rescue, operation rescue national, operation save america, pro-life, religiofascism, religiofascist, religiofascists, religionism, religionist, religionists, religious right, rev flip benham