Rod Liddle

The price of freedom of speech

The price of freedom of speech
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Tomorrow, I’ll blog the first of a couple of pieces in response to the Press Complaints Commission’s bizarre adjudication (and indeed its self-important breast-beating). All those figures in full. Right now I’m thinking of taking the Press Complaints Commission to the Press Complaints Commission for a decision which they were unable to support with hard facts and seemed motivated more by a wish to genuflect before the PC liberals who eviscerated the organization over its inept handling of the Jan Moir case. But, as I say, more of that tomorrow.

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.