The Corner

That Ad

Iain, the Pub Philosopher is on the case, and has a different take. He notes that the Christian groups in question are accusing the Gay Police Association of a ‘faith crime’ (whatever that might be) and worries, correctly, that this represents yet another assault on free speech:

The complaint against the Gay Police Association was not based on incitement to violence but on a claim that Christian belief legitimises homophobia. In other words, this was a criticism of the religion, not a call to attack its adherents. We were assured that we would still be free to criticise religion after the Religious Hatred Act was passed but the Gay Police Association has done just that and has found itself potentially on the wrong side of the law. Whether your sympathies lie with the Christians who have been offended by the advert, or with the Gay Police Association, if you believe in free speech this development should worry you. If a complaint about a criticism of the contents of the Bible can lead to a police investigation, what else could be construed as a ‘faith crime’. Saying that Islam is a violent religion? Reading out the ‘kill the infidels’ verses from the Koran? Publishing cartoons of Mohammed? We will probably hear the term ‘faith crime’ more often over the next few years and as the concept becomes established and its definition widened, our right to free speech will be eroded yet again.

There are plenty of reasons why somebody might reasonably object to the contents of that advertisement but the notion that such an advertisement might be a crime is infinitely more, to use an over-used word, ‘offensive’.

As a Danish journalist wrote at the time of the cartoon wars: “Ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed. Der er intet men.” (“Free speech is free speech is free speech. There is no but.”)

Those are words worth remembering.

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