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Freedom to Speak Offensively

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 6:27 pm - January 22, 2006.
Filed under: Free Speech,Gay PC Silliness,General

Recently on a gay message board I post at on occasion, I came across many responses to statements by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain. Most of these were from those of a more liberal persuasion, highly critical to the point of seeking to force Sir Iqbal into silence with the power of the State. As reported in BBC News, Sir Iqbal is quoted as saying:

Asked if he believed homosexuality was harmful to society, he said: “Certainly it is a practice that in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in a society – it is. It is not acceptable.”

“Each of our faiths tells us that it is harmful and I think, if you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various other illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practised there is a greater concern in that area.”

I can understand someone objecting to his reported views, I myself have some difficulty with them, but not to the point of branding him a criminal. He made no statements advocating violence against homosexuals but simply expressed his opinions which stem from his religious beliefs. That Sir Iqbal is being investigated by police in the UK for his comments is chilling. It is always amazing to me how some liberals are so quick to sacrifice freedom of speech because they dislike the fact that someone has a differing view from their own. Since when do a person’s “feelings” trump our fundamental rights? Nowhere in the Constitution or in any semblance of common sense is there any ‘right’ to not be offended. Putting subjective qualities like “feelings” above the freedom of speech only opens Pandora’s box and is a short route to tyranny. One is free to voice their objections to Sir Iqbal’s expressed opinions, but the moment they seek to use the law to punish him for protected speech they will find themselves at the mercy of the State as well. When it comes to protecting one or the other I’ll take freedom of speech any day because that saves my butt and yours from being harassed by a majority that finds our views on any subject offensive and disagreeable.

We have seen this corrosive mentality on the part of some liberals in university and college campuses where speech codes are selectively enforced to silence those with a differing viewpoint. Freedom of speech is a right all of us have and benefits society, mostly by allowing the expression of ideas even from a minority that may or may not have some influence on the population at large. If someone expressed an opinion that they believe homosexuality is morally wrong, or “harmful to society” as this fellow did, I may not like what they say but I defend their right to say it. When speech is censored through force of law, as many on this message board were advocating, then that erodes the very freedoms they claim to be protecting. Have gay liberals forgotten that many of the freedoms we enjoy today were once out of the mainstream, in the minority of views? The very idea of a gay publication, parade, or even something like this website was impossible at one time. The same freedom of speech which gives Sir Iqbal the right to criticize homosexuality allows them and any of us to state otherwise.

When it comes to protecting our freedoms, even those of people we disagree with or are offended by, I am reminded of this scene from one of my favorite movies A Man for All Seasons which perhaps those in Her Majesty’s Government would benefit from watching again:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

When you allow the State to fully decide what speech is protected and what is not, good luck maintaining freedom. If these liberals keep it up, it won’t be long until the very chains they think they are avoiding will encase us all tighter than Marley’s ghost. The shadow of Thought Police is not something any free society can survive for long.

Democratic Governor Favors Gay Marriage Ban; Gay Groups Silent

Whenever a Republican Governor indicates his opposition to gay marriage — or vetoes a bill establishing gay marriage in his state — gay groups raise a ruckus and level all kinds of insults against him. Even when those Republicans make clear their support for state recognition of same-sex unions (albeit called something other than marriage). Last week, in his first post for this blog, AverageGayJoe followed the progress of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Virginia, pointing out how a number of Old Dominion Democrats, inluding the commonwealth’s new Democratic Governor Tim Kaine supported it.

This morning, Eva Young e-mailed me to share Tim Hulsey’s excellent post noting how that Democrat is about to pulled a Clinton and make good on his pledge to sign that marriage amendment now that it has passed the Virginia General Assembly. The governor’s signature will allow the proposal to appear on the Old Dominion’s November ballot.

Tim reminds us that the gay Democratic organization Virginia Partisans touted Kaine’s win as a “terrific victory.” Looks like Kaine’s following in the footsteps of another Democrat whose election gay people supported, but who proved faithless once in office. Before the election, Bill Clinton made nice to the gay community, asking for our money and our votes, only to betray us within a few days of taking office. Shortly after his first inaugural thirteen years ago, that Democrat sought to repeal the ban on gays in the military, but when he was unprepared for the opposition to his plan (which he then could have accomplished with an Executive Order), he backtracked and signed on to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” thus codifying the ban and making it more difficult to repeal.

If anyone still believes that gay groups are truly nonpartisan, their reaction to Governor Kaine’s pledge should convince them otherwise. While this Democrat has indicated support for the measure at least since January 13, neither the Human Rights Campaign nor the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has seen fit to issue a press release faulting this Democrat for his pledge. Quite a contrast to their reaction to similar actions by Republicans, nearly all of whom, unlike Kaine, had not been backed by gay rights’ groups.