I swear, England is trying their damnedest to make anti-gay rhetoric sound rational and accurate. They’re prosecuting a minister for handing out leaflets with Bible verses on them at a gay Mardi Gras event, for nothing other than handing them out:
A police force was caught up in a freedom of speech row after its officers arrested an anti-gay campaigner for handing out leaflets at a homosexual rally.
South Wales police admitted evangelical Christian Stephen Green was then charged purely because his pamphlets contained anti-gay quotations from the Bible.
Mr Green faces a court appearance today charged with using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour’ after his attempt to distribute the leaflets at the weekend ‘Mardi Gras’ event in Cardiff.
A spokesman for the police said the campaigner had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but that officers arrested him because ‘the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality’.
We hear constantly from the religious right in this country that the “radical homosexual agenda” is out to destroy their freedom of speech. Thank goodness that our first amendment provides much stronger protection for free speech than many of our allies. Still, this is becoming such a frequent event in Europe and Canada that I’m beginning to think they’ve got a reason to be paranoid about this. I am obviously a staunch advocate of gay rights, but some of the people who claim to be on the same side need to get something through their skulls: you do not have a right to never encounter the opposition of disapproval of others.
If people think that being gay is sinful and evil, they have every right to say so. They have every right to tell you that to your face in most situations, and they certainly have the right to publish their opinions, express them in public, try to convince others of them, write letters to the editor about it, write books about it, preach it to their followers. In short, they have precisely the same right to express their opposition that you and I have to express our support. And if we do not stand up for their liberty, we do not deserve ours.
If you believe that you have freedom of speech, then you have an obligation to support freedom of speech even for those whose ideas make you angry. That obligation is both moral and practical, because if the government has the power to deny their freedom of speech, then they have the authority to deny ours as well. Our liberties are only safe when we defend them even when they are exercized by those who advocate ideas that we pour our souls into opposing. And we can only make a principled argument for our own liberty if we are willing to make the same argument for the liberty of those we oppose.
For liberty, when one ascends to the levels where ideas swish by and men pursue Truth to grab her by the tail, is the first thing and the last thing. So long as it prevails the show is thrilling and stupendous; the moment it fails the show is a dull and dirty farce. HL Mencken