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Free Speech and "Liberal Tolerance"

A Christian preacher in England was arrested over the weekend for telling a woman that engaged him in conversation that he believed God disapproves of homosexuality. While the arrest alone is foolishly deplorable in a country nominally committed to free-speech, the details are more interesting.

[The preacher] was handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments or offering a "ticket to heaven" with a church colleague ... when a woman came up and engaged him in a debate about his faith.

During the exchange, ... he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness.

After the woman walked away, she was approached by a PCSO [police community support officer] who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to [the preacher] and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language.

The street preacher said...: "I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator".

...the PCSO then said he was homosexual and identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police. [The preacher] replied: "It's still a sin."

... Three regular uniformed police officers arrived ..., arrested [him] and put him in the back of a police van.

First, what is a "police community support officer" and are tax-payers funding the local police's "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaisons?" Second, is there any doubt that this PCSO is the one with the complaint, and not the woman he approached? Third, is there any doubt that the PCSO's intention was to intimidate and silence the preacher because he personally disagreed, as a gay man, with the message? Fourth, does this arrest, and others like it, for simply having a conversation in public, not demonstrate the comparative weakness of personal liberty in the face of European-style liberal tolerance?

The Public Order Act was intended to curb rioters and (no kidding) football hooligans in England. It was immediately used by liberal activists, however, to target Christian groups for messages with which they disagree. Yet Democrats, inspired by such events, are staunch supporters of "hate crimes," the conservative-talk-radio-targeting "fairness doctrine" and university "speech codes" - all intended to duplicate the European model in the U.S. This is not the "freedom" intended by the Founders. 

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Discussions - 8 Comments

Not the same practical stakes as with the Muhammad cartoons, since those whose free speech is attacked are not threatened with death, but the same principle is at stake, and the case is arguably closer to the heart of that principle--i.e., it is the right to expound what your religion teaches, as opposed to the right to criticize another religion in a manner blasphemous to it.

So, will the good libertarian and neo-con-esque blogs call for a "Everybody Publicly Read the Biblical Condemnations of Homosexuality In Britain Day?"

No? Well, it would require air-fare to Britain...and for not a few, the purchase of a Bible...then I'll settle for an "Everybody Draw What Happens to those who Publicly Read the Biblical Condemnations of Homosexuality In Britain Day."

Hey, I salute the guts of those who like Chris Muir rose to the challenge of the recent Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Big-time salute.

But perhaps cases like this require a different sort of guts and different sort of spine, but ones no less necessary. Defending Western Civilization against the creep, creep, creep of Soft Libertarian-ESQUE Despotism is not as overtly brave as defending it against the clear and present threats of Islamists, but it is inconsistent to not to stand for both sorts of defenses.

This is England gone Wilde.

Yes, the same principle is at stake, Freedom of religious expression is freedom of conscience. If we are not free in that, we are not free. The liberal state is tolerant. The state run by the modern liberal does not require tolerance, but acceptance. Forced acceptance negates someone's liberty in that it stifles the expression of conscience.

Islam and its demands are something else and the great question about Islam in a nation of liberty is whether it can tolerate the rest of us.

And at the risk of seeming too earnest, it's the sort of thing the real Oscar Wilde would have deplored.

This small portrait of England shows its considerable decay and decadence from his day to our own.

This kind of stuff goes on in Canada, too. And as in Canada, it is always against Christians or conservatives, never against, say, rabidly and lethally anti-gay Muslims.
Stalinism. I am a US gay man who is ashamed and disgusted that people like me, who should know about the intrusive power of the state, then turn around and use it on others.
Long live the First Amendment!

Yes, it is horrible that such stuff goes on in Canada or in any nation that describes itself as free, which is why we are trying so hard to make light of it. This story should be an impossible absurdity instead of real. The use of the Public Order Act, which is silly in a land with normal laws against disturbing the peace, reminds me of the use of RICO against abortion protesters some years back.

Smartest thing I've heard about this so far - "Fire the cop, drop the silly charges, and wait a few weeks for this bogus preacher to get caught in a public loo or with some little kid (or both!), and then the street will be that much more safe and pleasant for everyone."

It just goes to show that fascism isn't always a property of the majority group. In all honesty, I think this kind of thing should lead to civil insurrection. Yes, it's that serious.

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