After a Loudoun County parent paraphrased a passage from the Bible during a school board meeting, another resident responded with a petition to ban “hate speech.”
At a board meeting on Dec. 13, parents in Loudoun County, Virginia continued to voice their frustrations about the district’s handling of its infamous sexual assault case. Local parent Mark Winn paraphrased a bible verse apparently taking aim at the administration’s cover-up of actual violence toward children.
“If any man or woman causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for [them] if a millstone to be put around your neck and thrown into the lake,” Winn said, as reported by Fox News.
While this verse from Mark 9:42 is often used to encourage the protection of children, Andrew Pihonak, a 19-year-old Loudoun County community organizer, called it “hate speech” in a quickly created Change.org petition.
“A man said that people in the LGBTQ+ community are better off with ‘millstones around their necks at the bottom of a river,’” Pihonak alleged in his petition.
The petition demanded the school board adopt a policy requiring them to cut off citizens speaking during public comment “the second hate speech is spoken.”
Winn explained to Fox News Digital that simply quoting the bible shouldn’t be considered “hate speech.”
“To the best of my knowledge, words of God, words from the Bible have never been considered hate speech, so I was rather taken aback by it,” Winn said.
Since the meeting, Winn says he’s faced multiple threats against him online and attempts to hurt his business.
Other parents who agree with Winn say the criticism was directed at the administration and was not a criticism of the LGBT community. These parents also remained concerned about the slippery slope of defining “hate speech.”
Xi Van Fleet, a former Loudoun County parent, warned of the effects of labeling everything not in line with a particular party as “hate speech.” Van Fleet survived Mao’s cultural revolution in China, witnessing the silencing and deaths of dissenters against communism.
“Hate speech to me is a very tricky business, because who is to define what is hate?” Van Fleet asked in a statement to the Daily Caller. “I just want to remind young people like this particular person who started the petition, that banning speech also can get people bullied, tortured and killed.
“That is what happened in China during the Cultural Revolution where I witnessed people who, just because they say something that is not in line with the party, with Mao, would get silenced and many of them killed.”
Loudoun County parent Elicia Brand Leudemann, who founded parental rights group Army of Parents, also defended Winn.
“Mark 9:42 was used in a 60-second comment to describe the school board’s actions and lack thereof that put children in harm’s way,” Leudemann told the Daily Caller. “This is not about the LGBTQ community. This is about the safety of all children and the incompetence of the board. It was about demanding accountability from the board.”
Pihonak’s petition has been signed 947 times, the website reports.
Loudoun County School Board member Tiffany Polifko said she was not interested in being the “speech police” at board meetings as that is “certainly not my role.”
Polifko said that policing speech was the furthest thing from her mind when it came to the necessary course correction for Loudoun County schools, expressing a resounding “no” when asked if she supported a potential policy change that would cut people off at these meetings.