Tatchell gets it right on free speech

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on March 30, 2010
Posted Under: Democracy,Minorities

A while ago I criticised Peter Tatchell for calling for statutory regulation of the press – or in other words state censorship. Yet he has got it absolutely right on the recent conviction of an evangelical preacher for speaking against homosexuality. Tatchell writes:

The conviction and £1,000 fine imposed on a homophobic Christian street preacher in Glasgow must be condemned [as] an attack on free speech and a heavy-handed, excessive response to homophobia. Shawn Holes, an American Baptist evangelist touring Britain, was fined £1,000 for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre:

“Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.”

In court, he admitted breaching the peace on 18 March by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice”.

Mr Holes is obviously homophobic and should not be insulting people with his anti-gay tirades. He should be challenged and people should protest against his intolerance. However, in a democratic, free society it is wrong to prosecute him. Criminalisation is not appropriate.

The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.

My emphasis.

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Reader Comments


For my money, he is right. I don’t need a law to tell me it’s probably not a good thing to drink with hardened Combat 18 member.

When it comes to speech matters, I feel society at large provides the most appropriate verdict.

Written By Stuart on March 30th, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

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