Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Here’s another disturbing free speech story, this time from England:

The boy, who is described only as a minor, was taking part in a demonstration outside the church’s central London headquarters on May 10 when City of London Police officers ordered him to remove the placard.

It read: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.”

When he refused, he was issued with a form of summons for an alleged breach of public order. Police plan to pass a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether charges can be brought.

And here we get the ridiculous justifications from the police:

A spokesman for the force said the youth had been “reported” under section five of the Public Order Act, which contains measures against displaying signs considered to be “threatening, abusive or insulting”…

Chief Supt Rob Bastable said: “City of London Police upholds the right to demonstrate lawfully, but we have to balance that with the right of all sections of community not to be alarmed, harassed or distressed as a result of other people’s behaviour.”

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. The fact that another person’s opinion causes you “distress” is your problem, not theirs. Expressing a negative opinion about a religion may upset adherents of that religion, but so what? No one has a right not to be offended by the views of others. Where in the world did this idea come from that you have free speech unless you say something that bothers other people?

There is one thing that is absolutely guaranteed if you live in a free society: you’re going to be confronted with ideas you don’t like. You’re going to be offended, even insulted, by someone expressing their views or criticizing yours. Don’t like that? Tough. You can be insulted all you want, but the government has no business intervening to prevent you from being offended.