Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Supporting Free Speech Hurts, That's Sort Of The Point

When I was growing up it was illegal (or at least everyone thought it was) for my school to teach me about homosexual relationships, illegal for me to join the Armed Forces, there was no possibility of partnership rights (and still no legal ability to get married), even when I turned 16 it was illegal for me to have sex! I can only thank those involved in the fight (individuals, political parties, and charities) who helped secure the freedoms I and many other gay men and women enjoy today.

This is why I am very keen to fight for others freedoms. Be it the struggle for marriage equality, transgender rights, or even the rights of religious bigots, I will be there. I have always taken Niemoller's famous quote (or perhaps misquote) to heart:

First, they came for the Jews. But I was not a Jew, so I did not speak up.
Then they came for the communists.
But I was not a communist, so I did not speak up.
Then they came for the trade unionists.
But I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak up.
And when they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.
This is why I've always seen it as deeply important to stand up for people's freedoms to speak and do as they please. If I'm not prepared to stand up for others liberty, I do not deserve my own.

The case of Paul Shaw (warning this link goes to Christian Voice's website. Please wear applicable safety equipment) is yet another example of an over reaction by those who don't care for free speech and by the police who should know better.

What he said was pretty odious and obnoxious:

I believe for example that homosexual and lesbian acts are immoral and that the law should reflect that; by making them unlawful as they once were; and so acting as a deterrent to such behaviour.

The concept of homophobia is nonsense and a play on words; it is not and has never been a phobia! A phobia is an un-natural fear; whereas a rejection of perverse behaviour; is a righteous godly fear; that fears to do wrong because it knows that there are consequences and punishment otherwise! This is the most pronounced example of a nation that has lost its way ..
I doubt he has any redeeming virtues and suspect he is a poor excuse for a decent human being. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to voice his weird, batshit crazy opinions. Why on Earth did anyone think to themselves "I need to report this to the police"? It wouldn't even cross my mind. I read far harsher stuff every single day online on a great many different issues. I've never even considered contacting the police about it. Instead I write up my own responses to them. That is how things should be done in a society which holds individual freedom up as something to aspire to.

No wonder the fight for LGBT liberation is so lacklustre at the moment. Has our community decided that instead of fighting prejudice and bigotry in the press, in the streets and in peoples homes they will simply use the police as proxies to silence and make martyrs of our opponents?

We need to find our fighting spirit again to hold people like Paul Shaw to account, not hide behind stupid laws and hope the bad people will just shut up. It's not going to happen. We need to win hearts and minds, and we need to stand up for Paul Shaw's right to be an offensive git. If we don't, how can we take the moral high ground? What defence will we have if the shoe ever gets back on the other foot?

We need to be better people than these religious fundamentalists. Becoming the new fundamentalists is not the way to do it.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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