We spend a lot of time talking about how the right for the common man to possess firearms enshrined in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is for a citizenry to be truly free. But ask yourself this question. If you possess firearms, but can't even speak freely without fear that you will lose your ability to function in society, are you truly free? Of course not. Nothing threatens power-hungry leaders more than armed citizens who are free to think and voice their minds. It should be no surprise then that corrupt and inept government officials want to tell you what you can say, think, and hold in your hands.
We were made aware of a disturbing change to the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) statement of professional standards. How this is of any relevance to you requires just a bit of explanation. The NAR has about 1.4 million members and is the largest association of realtor's in the country. Two NAR members with over 30 years of combined experience as realtors explained that 'without NAR membership and access to the MLS (multiple listing service), you essentially cannot function as a realtor'. The implications of the NAR changing its standards of conduct without input from its members have far-reaching implications.
The concern to the realtors we spoke to was twofold. First, the change broadened the scope of what constituted "a REALTOR®’s activities" as listed on the organization's website. This is from the NAR's website:
At present, Policy Statement 29 in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual limits the applicability of the Code to real estate-related activities and transactions involving REALTORS®. As such, members can engage in conduct and speech that is discriminatory and abhorrent, but unless it can be tied to a real estate-related activity or transaction, the Code of Ethics, specifically Article 10, does not apply. The Board of Directors approved a revised policy that expands applicability to all of a REALTOR®’s activities. While the Code’s applicability has expanded, most Articles and Standards of Practice remain specific to real estate transactions and other real estate-related activities.
In addition to expanding the scope, the realtors voiced apprehension as to the change in definitions of behavior that would violate the code of ethics. This included the addition of the vague and arbitrary term 'hate speech'.
Here is what the NAR describes as conduct considered 'sexual harassment' and the definition of 'hate speech":
Appendix XII to Part Four Appropriate Interpretation of Standard of Practice 10-5 and Statement of Professional Standards Policy 29
“Harassment includes inappropriate conduct, comment, display, action, or
gesture based on another person’s sex, color, race, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any other
Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to: epithets, slurs or
negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; and the display or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual or group based on a protected characteristic.”
“Sexual Harassment” includes not only physical acts but also includes verbal and non-verbal/nonphysical acts.
“Sexual harassment can be: Verbal: Sexual innuendoes, suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, or threats. Non-Verbal: Sexually suggestive objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures. …
In similar fashion, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “hate speech,” “epithets,” and “slurs” as follows:
Hate Speech: “speech that is intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability).”
Epithet: “1a: a characterizing word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing; b: a disparaging or abusive word or phrase”
Slur: “1a: an insulting or disparaging
The realtors we spoke to said that now that a post on their Facebook page, a conversation with a colleague could be taken out of context and subject them to discipline or loss of their license. One of the realtors we spoke to is a pastor. He said that he fears simply preaching from God's word could be a violation of the NAR's definition of 'hate speech'. He provided this example:
Romans 1:26-27 26This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
"He felt the need to qualify his statement by saying "I would not treat someone who is a homosexual any different than any other person." Both realtors made a point to continuously reaffirm that they do not discriminate against anyone in their personal or professional lives. It is quite clear that the example above could easily be considered prohibited speech according to their 'epithet' definition.
But let's look at this from another point of view. Under the current "hate speech" rules adopted by the NAR would it be permissible for an atheist to condemn religious beliefs they found objectionable? For example, could a homosexual post on their private social media page that they wouldn't talk to anyone of a specific religion, and found them detestable because they believe that homosexuality is a sin? Our stance is that they should be allowed to post that on their page. Even though it fits the very definition of "hate speech" used by the NAR and in public discourse.
We should be very careful when we believe that because public sentiment currently supports our beliefs, and not a different belief that it will always stay that way. A brief look at history will show that public opinion always changes over time. This is especially true if we align our opinion to a political party's. The "steadfast beliefs" of politicians and their parties change with the wind. You may find yourself cheering the removal of all types of "hate speech" because currently what you don't like is defined as "hate speech". However, if the tide changes, and what you think or say is considered "hate speech" would you have the same opinion?
We asked the realtors if, over their 15+ year careers, they have heard or been a part of actual acts of realtors committing acts of racism or bigotry against anyone. One said she heard of an incident of an "agent making a racist remark to a client several years back." She could not remember the outcome but believed the person lost their job. The other realtor told us he had only personally been witness to a minority client saying that he didn't want to buy a house in an area because there were a lot of [minorities of a different race than him] in the area." He decided not to work with the client based on the client's behavior.
One realtor said, "I regularly have clients ask me if I would live in a particular neighborhood. If I were to say that I wouldn't live there based on the level of crime, and it happens that more of one ethnic group lives there, could someone infer that I am a racist? I feel that at any moment what I say or put on Facebook will be twisted."
Do you ever choose to support businesses that are Christian-owned, veteran-owned, minority-owned, etc? You can also choose to not support realtors who may have voted for the evil orange man or sleepy Joe. Would you want to support a realtor who voted for someone who you think is ushering in the end of the world as we know it? If that is important to you, allowing people to expose their personal beliefs gives you the information to make your decision on who you will do business with. Prohibiting people from posting their personal beliefs does not take those beliefs from their hearts. It just hides them from the public.
The realtors said they are required to complete ethics training every three years as part of their continuing education. Neither realtor said that they have ever been told that racism, bigotry, or maltreatment of homosexuals was an issue amongst NAR members. However the NAR's statement on why the changes needed to be made paint a different picture. Here is the statement which was taken from their website:
"During the social unrest throughout the nation in late spring and summer of 2020, NAR received an unprecedented number of complaints about REALTORS® posting discriminatory speech and conduct online, especially on social media. Local and state associations experienced a similar influx of these complaints. A local association of REALTORS® wrote to NAR President Vince Malta requesting that NAR consider the Code of Ethics’ applicability to this type of speech and conduct."
We are not claiming that the NAR is fabricating their "unprecedented number of complaints". However, the justification for these changes seems to be driven more by social pressure than actual incidents of violations of conduct.
Many have claimed that this is a violation of their First Amendment Right to free speech. We should point out that the NAR addresses this question of the 1st Amendment on their FAQ page. Their response is technically correct:
The First Amendment provides that neither the United States Congress nor any state may abridge the freedom of speech of American citizens. With some exceptions, the First Amendment does not prohibit a private organization from restricting the speech of its members, employees, or users. NAR is a private association that is supported by dues from members, is not exercising any governmental function, and has no subpoena power or other powers generally available to state agencies. As such, the First Amendment does not preclude NAR from imposing this ethical duty as a condition of membership.
So technically it is not a violation of the 1st Amendment, however, it is a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment.
One realtor said they felt that the long-standing statement of professional standards was adequate and provided the appropriate ability to discipline their members. The new changes were "overreaching and scarry."
The realtors we spoke to stated that they fear many realtors may not even know the changes as it wasn't uniformly disseminated to the members. Neither of the realtors we spoke to was aware of anyone who had been disciplined under the newly changed rules. However, they both were hoping that more realtors would be made aware of the changes before being made an example.
We take a stance that less governmental control over private companies is always preferred. We also assert that racism, bigotry, sexual harassment, or being a crappy human being, in general, is always wrong. However, the purpose of bringing this to light is to say enough is enough. People must be able to say and think what they want even if we strongly disagree. The concerted effort to redefine words, control speech, public expression, and opinion has hindered civil discourse.
We are asking that people take a step back, and pause a moment. Let all the hysteria over which group you think is going to cause the death of America as we know it. Think about the fact that people can have different ideas and different beliefs and exist in the same country. It may seem crazy, but people with different beliefs can even exist in the same house! But only if we don't look at people as just a bunch of beliefs, but as a person. Let’s refuse to allow the ruling class to further divide us in order to distract from their ineptness. We disagree with the precept that censorship is the way to bring people together.
Over time, good ideas will always beat out bad ideas. But this happens because we can discuss things civilly. Good ideas do not need to stifle bad ideas to win in the end. Good ideas win on their merit.