I’ve blogged before about my respect for Peter Tatchell. Here’s his response to the heavy handed treatment of a Christian bigot, which I’ve taken from Tatchell’s human rights blog. It seems to me, both in essence and in practice, precisely the right approach, precisely the right principle. Why do so many people, particularly on the left, find such a principle so hard to swallow?
Peter Tatchell March 30, 2010 at 2:33am
Subject: £1,000 fine for homophobic preacher is excessive
Christian conviction condemned as unjustified, heavy-handed
Freedom of speech must be defended, even for homophobes
London – 30 March 2010
The conviction and £1,000 fine imposed on a homophobic Christian street preacher in Glasgow has been condemned by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell 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".
See Scotland on Sunday, 28 March 2010:
"Shawn 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,” said Mr Tatchell.
“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.