Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How the world changed in the Past Decade. Part 3. Where is freedom of speech today?

Back in the mid sixties I was an undergraduate in London studying pharmacy. One of my friends in hall of residence was a post-doctoral student from the then Czechoslovakia. One day I asked him what one thing from England he would like to take home. He told me it was Speakers Corner, Hyde Park.

The UK has long been home to freedom of speech. In the 19th century Karl Marx and Engels found liberty here when hounded out of Germany for revolutionary views. England is now a refuge for many Islamists who face persecution in their own lands. But now our freedoms are being eroded. Supposed hate speech laws are restricting public discourse. Even our supposed free press is afraid. Why else did no-one here have the courage of Denmark to publish the Mohammed cartoons? They were afraid of the consequences. These days, if a Christian street preach dares to mention Islam or homosexuality in a critical manner he or she may face arrest. Nor only preachers are at risk. A hotelier expressed to a Muslim guest his criticism of Islam. He is to be prosecuted for religiously aggravated public disorder. So I think I must be careful what I write here.

It is also reported that we will soon come under an EU law which means that if I publicly read Bible texts on homosexual sin and someone is offended, I may be charged with hate speech and the burden will be on me to prove it not hateful. The offence to the complainant will be being accepted as he or she has complained. This is an intolerable affront to the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty. As a Christian I believe God alone knows our hearts, so for courts to judge motivation as aggravating some crimes is a peering into men's souls which no human court is competent to do. Recently a homosexual friend was beaten up walking home. I asked if it was a homophobic attack. He said he did not know. He agreed with me that his attackers’ motivation was irrelevant. If found guilty they should be sentenced according to the severity of the assault. Why they may have done it was irrelevant unless their was robbery too.

Twenty three years ago I started out in local politics because I was against my local council telling schoolchildren that homosexuality was an equally valid lifestyle choice. Mrs Thatcher passed a law prohibiting local councils from promoting homosexuality. Blair repealed the law and he has the support of present leader of the Conservatives. I left that party when it departed from Christian sexual ethics. Things I then openly talked about in public will now be regarded as criminal offences.

A Christian pensioner, Mrs Pauline Howe, 67, said she was the victim of a number of sexually explicit verbal attacks while she handed out Christian leaflets a a gay pride parade.
So she he complained to the Chief Executive of Norwich City Council because of the abuse she suffered at the homosexual carnival in the city on 25 July.
Two police officers came knocking on her door saying her letter was homophobic and might be be treated a ‘hate incident’.
Mrs Howe had written.“It is the public display of such indecency on the streets of Norwich which is so offensive to God and to many Norwich residents.”
She used biblical language to describe homosexual acts saying, they had contributed to the downfall of empires and that they were a cause of sexually transmitted infections .
Bridget Buttinger, deputy chief executive at the council, wrote to Mrs Howe , warning that she could face the charge of a criminal offence for such views.
“As a local authority we have a duty along with other public bodies to eliminate discrimination of all kinds,” she wrote.
“A hate incident is any incident that is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hatred. A hate crime is any hate incident that constitutes a criminal offence.The content of your letter has been assessed as potentially being hate related because of the views you expressed towards people of a certain sexual orientation.Your details and details of the content of your letter have been recorded as such and passed to the Police.”
The police defended the decision to send officers to question Mrs Howe. They said anything reported as a crime must be investigated.
Where is freedom of speech today?

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