We can’t police people’s thoughts, but we can protect society from those thoughts turning into action, such as inciting hatred as this news article demonstrates. What is worrying though, is that this man clearly thinks he can get away with it. The freedom of speech argument is used a lot, including on these forums, but the right to express racist sentiments is illegal. I think that same argument ought to apply to homophobic comments.
“What is worrying though, is that this man clearly thinks he can get away with it”
I get that impression too. And what you say about free speech is absolutely right. Paul Shaw breached the line between free speech and hate speech, and I hope he’s prosecuted and sent on some kind of course to educate him that people who are different to him are not threats. Of course, sadly so many fundies have closed minds, so I doubt that would work very well.
How sad that he’s got such a hang up about something that’s really of no concern to him. Maybe it makes him feel better about himself to try to persecute and denigrate others, but to me, it just screams “inadequate and insecure”.
Ian Bower – that made me smile :D
@ursus262 Was this preacher inciting violence? Saying homosexuality should be illegal is divisive and stupid but not really inciting violence. And yes, I think the same standards should apply to race issues.
I prefer to let people speak then you know where you stand. shutting someone up doesn’t change their mind.
I believe he was arrested on a charge of inciting HATRED, not inciting violence. Without seeing the actual leaflet we can’t guess how inflamatory it may or may not have been, but, in my opinion, anyone who says that being gay should be illegal is misguided – either accidently or deliberately…
I didn’t choose to be a lesbian any more than I chose my green eyes, and I don’t think it’s acceptable that somebody’s allowed to say that WHO somebody is should be illegal. I find it equally offensive when people make similar comments about women/ethnic minorites/disabled people etc because it’s an attempt to portray others as inferior.
dean – maybe shutting someone up doesn’t change their mind, but it stops them from changing someone else’s mind, and so stops their hate becoming more widespread. If someone had shut hitler up when he started spouting hate, then maybe millions of people wouldn’t have died in the second world war. If someone would shut the pope up then maybe a million catholics wouldn’t think we were abominations. My problem with cases like this isn’t that they are shutting him up, but that they go after the small fish. Prosecuting him is a like prosceuting the end of the chain. It is the leaders of these religions that need arresting – if he can be prosecuted, surely Natzinger should be behind bars or life?
ok jay I agree this guy is small fry. and those like him should be allowed to speak he may be your housing officer, nurse, doctor , landlord fireperson. let them speak their truth then you know who to trust.
I love what the Judge said haha
Stick him in prison and let him ranta and rave about homosexuality in the showers, might make him less of a prude ;]
I believe he is setting himself up as a test case, maybe on the electoral laws, and he will probably be backed by the C.I., who I believe have an advice service for such people.
It’s difficult to have a view on the prosecution without seing the wording of the leaflet, but calling for any section of the community to be locked up sounds like incitement to hatred to me.
Don’t believe idiots like this influence anybody.. his comments just show up how idiotic people sound when they come out with rubbish like this – 20 votes – didn’t influence many people and probably made a few people vote for the party with a better gay anti-discrimaintion record – at least I hope so!
What worries me more is when people who are actually MEPs/MP come out with idiotic and discriminatory comment eg
Jim Allister (NI). – in his debate on articles 72 – 78 of the EU report fundamental rights in 2009 – ” Mr President, a society consumed by rights is a ‘give-me, give-me’ society which has lost its balance. It is this which drives the report’s demand for equality between regularly married couples and homosexual relationships. The natural order is man and woman. We pervert it when we demand equality for its very antithesis.
Unfashionable as it may be, I unashamedly declare that the unnatural partnership between same-sex couples is not something to which I, as a legislator, wish to consent…..”
Luckily such naff comments appeared to put off MEP and the articles were voted for…. Such guys should not be in the position of LEGISLATOR!!!!
dean – yeah I suppose so, maybe you’re right. It’s another slippy slope of where do you draw the line with freedom of speech. But, when I lived in east london, I used to get given leaflets nearly everyday on the way to whitechapel tube by islamists that said the same hateful things about homos. I complained to the police a number of times and they never did anything to stop them. It used to really piss me off, cause I knew if I was there giving similar hateful leaflets out about muslims, I would have probs either been arrested by the police or attacked by those I was insulting. Homos have had so little protection for so long that I guess knee jerk reaction is to say that he should be arrested.
“Mr Shaw claimed that there would be “terrible consequences” if homosexuality was not made illegal again soon and warned that God’s judgment was “not very far away”.”
That is hilarous. This guy needs to remember to take his medication in future.
The law outlaws threatening behaviour or materials intended to stir up hatred against people on grounds of their sexual orientation. It was only passed in March, so maybe the people Jay refers to would face arrest now if the were passing out such materials
Worth noting that this guy was not preaching, he was not in a church, he was in a totally secular situation dishing out materials that, if we have been correctly informed, appear to have had the main or sole purpose of attacking gays, characterising them as criminals, and claiming tolerance of them would result in divine retribution.
If he had been saying the same thing about, for example, members of another religion (which may be argued to be a perfectly valid religious belief – killing non-believers and many others is in the Old Testament too), would there be any doubt about the situation? Just because it’s gay people being attacked, there seems to be a tendency to play it down, make it seem not so important. Well, it is just as important, and so are we.
But of course some “religious” people will claim to be the victims if he is prosecuted, and that they have a right to persecute and harass gay people simply because they believe it’s right, though of course they cannot see that it is persecution and harrassment.
jay i’m being simplistic you’re right
RELIGIOUS FREAK LOL.
I think that the right of free speech trumps any offence that might be caused to the gay community or society in general.
It is not the job of government to decide, prior to any debate or dialogue, what is an acceptable thought or speech act. The corrosion our freedom of speech and thought is a shameful and illiberal step backwards and it should not be supported by any serious liberal.
It’s not to do with causing offence, it’s to do with “otherising” and creating hatred towards a section of the community, which is not only a persecution of that community but helps create a climate where it’s ok to commit acts of violence against them. When’s the last time anyone was beaten up for being a Christian in this country? The last time someone was beaten up for being gay was probably yesterday.
Well, if they’re locked up, then they’d stop harming one another, eg giving one another syphilis and AIDS.
Ps. Freedom of speech is a licence, not an absolute right. We have more freedom of speech today than at any other time in our history, thanks to increased secularisation, so to say it is being eroded is quite an inversion. My right to freedom to love, and to privacy is much more important than someone else’s claimed right to persecute me for it.
And best not to confuse or conflate freedom of thought, speech and deed, eh?
Mlk – that would only work for heterosexuals – prisons are single sex.
Arfur, the criminal law requires, for a crime to be committed, that the accused possess both mens rea (a guilty mind) and actus rea (a gulity act). These principles exist because it can not be a crime for me to simply think of murdering someone. Over my own thoughts, I am sovereign, and without a guilty act, I have not done any wrong. There is, as far as the law is concerned, no such thing as a ‘thought crime.’
Given that ‘speech acts’ are mere verbalisations of thought, and given that the state should have no role in policing our thoughts, I do stand up for this preacher, on liberal grounds.
I am not proposing a slippery slope argument either. I think that the line is fuzzy, but that, in this case the right to freedom of thought and expression trumps other considerations.
You argued that there is a link between the ‘speech act’ and acts of violence, but, it seems to me that if the ‘speech act’ were a stone thrown into a river, the violent crime would be a ripple far removed from the act of speaking. So far removed, in fact, as to make it ridiculous to try to link the one event with the other.
Surely just another Christian loony on the loose. Lock the fu**er up and throw away the key.
You seem are confused James. Freedom of thought means I can believe what I like. It does not mean I can say what I like. I can believe that you are a murderer, no matter how unreasonable that belief may be. No one can interfere with that. But if I was to write that you are a murder, that would not be legal, unless it was true.
You are confusing freedom of thought with the intention behind a crime, a different thing entirely.
…Scuse the bad typing.
Given that the preacher is being charged with a crime, the philosophical foundations of the criminal law are important. Hence, I am not confused. It is my contention that this man is being arrested for an expression of thought and that this alone does not warrant arrest without a harmful act. The legal principle in question, as stated above, is the principle of ‘Actus non facit reusnisi mens sit rea’ (there can be no criminal liability without the joinder of a guilty act and a guilty mind).
I make this argument, following John Stuart Mill, whose defence of freedom of speech relies (as mine does) on a thin boundary between an act of thought and an act of speech. Arguing that to transgress one is to transgress both.
I believe that Mill makes this claim because, following Kant, he views rationality as inter-subjective and hence, freedom of thought alone, can not guaratee our liberty of rational thought.
The slander law, is, in my view, a seperate question – and we should not conflate the tw odebates into one.
Sorry, that should have read: “I believe that Mill makes this claim because, following Kant, he views rationality as inter-subjective and hence, freedom of thought alone, can not guaratee our liberty of rational SPEECH.”
Third draft of that setence: “I believe that Mill makes this claim because, following Kant, he views rationality as inter-subjective and hence, freedom of thought alone, can not guaratee rational beliefs, we need also to discuss our claims with others.”
Not sure why you think slander is separate. Can you explain?
All speech is an expression of thought. People are often led by religion to slander gay people, whether this person did we don’t know. If he was saying gay people are criminals and should be locked up, then that is the same as slander.
This person also wasn’t trying to have a rational discussion with anyone, he was handing out leaflets that the police considered were inciting hatred.
Thanks to propaganda, many Germans in the 1930s believed that certain minorities were rats and should be eliminated. Hate speech is a powerful thing. Look at Uganda today. That is why it should be illegal.
I don’t think that this does not count as slander because there is a difference between ‘moral truth’ and ‘factual truth.’ I believe that slander only applies to the latter category, whereas in the former category a claim of slander would need to be based on a disputable conception of ‘moral truth.’
The difficulty, as I see it, is that a conception of ‘moral truth’ needs to be backed up in argument, and hence, by seeking to restrict speech by making a claim to ‘moral truth,’ you are, in a sense, ‘deciding in advance’ of the justification/argument.
Most liberal philosophers would disagree with me here, because they would claim that our moral debate needs to exclude ‘un-reasonable’ views as being, in some sense, ‘byond the pale.’
This exclusion should not be based on a claim to ‘moral truth,’ because such a view would lead to the problems described above, but would be based instead on a weaker claim, that it accords with our ‘moral intuitions’ or with the ‘background culture’ of our society (Rawls) or with a ‘common moral horizon’ (Berlin).
These accounts are problematic, because they seem to succumb to the charge of cultural or moral relativism, and are themselves open to dispute…
This whole debate involves a great deal of balancing, of many considerations. I suppose that the most acceptable solution would accord with the settled convictions of the majority of people on the question of moral truth. But, such a conception is difficult to argue for a-priori, which is the problem I have with your argument.
You really are up your own arse.
Your over the top self assurance, seems to me to be utterly pointless.
I would gather, given your wordiness that your time would be better spent making up crosswords for some random newspaper.
It does not impress.
And PS: Even Stephen Hawking can speak sense without embellishing with flowery crap.
Does it make you feel superior.???
Dear Dr. Rob,
I accept that I sound like an arse. This is beside the point.
Freedom of speech is important, and it needs a better defence than I can offer. I therefore humbly direct you to Mr. Mill, who offers a much better defence of this important freedom than I am capable:
well here in america – u can pretty much say almost anything…..ie:1st ammendment …tho what he says is disgusting and pathetic,and nothing of any religion ,or jeusu I ever learned…he’s free to spew bile. Tho this did not happen here in america..the evangelical religious wackjobs will USE this case as – “SEE, what happened when gays get special rights”blah blah blah ….
Silly old fart! Let him stand on the street corners and make a complete idiot of himself!
Sure sounds like hate speech to me. Basically inciting religious people to violence against gay people, which we know happens every day.
If Germany had hate speech laws in the 1920s and 1930s, hitler would have been locked up for life, and WWII would never have happened.
But think about this- if some insurance business promised that for money, and your coming to meetings of others like you, death would not be death but lead to eternal life.
All based on some storis from an age of superstition and ignorance.
And the company threatened you with being burned to a crisp in someplace called hell if you didn’t do as your were told in return for their life after death insurance……………..
In my country the scammers would be brought into our federal courts under our racketeering laws. And the sentence would be along long time behind bars.
Now, why haven’t we been able to break through the religious exemption for racketeering?
Which also includes inflaming people to commit murder of minorities.
“Now, why haven’t we been able to break through the religious exemption for racketeering?”
Because it’s impossible to prove that god doesn’t exist. The illogicality of religion is well shown in this video:
Interesting article in the Telegraph . . . “Councillor Rahman”
. . . I am sure it has nothing to do with the Rahman who generated over 600 threads on this site – when a Homophobic Islamic preacher was banned from speaking at a London University last year.
Interesting indeed, JohnK.
“Freedom of speech is important, and it needs a better defence than I can offer”
Oh, sorry, you seem to have your terms confused…. what you’re really saying is “freedom to discriminate”, based on ones one prejudices. It seems to be a common error made by “christians” like you.
A democracy or society cannot function properly when one group has the right to victimise and discriminate another. The “freedoms” you refer to are similar, in almost every way, to the same “freedoms” that existed in German in 1935, under the The Nuremberg Laws against sections of society that the state and people like you didn’t “agree with”.
And we all know where that ended up, don’t we?
Iris . . . thanks – perhaps time for a little detective work again.
We have no right to be protected from being offended,
we do have an expectation to be prtotected from speech that puts us in fear for our safety, either through it being “enabling” or overt.
It’s now time to shut down the churches with bibles with leviticus 20:13. Religion and the churches should now be exposed as a bigoted structure that gets away with hate mongering. It is a criminal offence to cause harm onto others physically or with written items … bibles have been getting away with this for ages. Tony Perkins and his The Family Research Council’s opposition to gay rights have landed the outfit onto a list of “hate groups,” like the KKK. Christian colleges should be classified as hate groups and shut down. UK Prime Minister Cameron is facing this issue; as we speak … regarding hateful muslim & islam extremes & homophobia — being taught to children at the mosques and schools.
The evil writings in Leviticus 20:13; which exists in the old testament & torah … were written long after Moses — 600BC — regarding “priestly rules” … expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public — but to priests.
How would you like it … if hate speech was directed to your brother or sister as you sat in the pew; spewed by some better than thou religious lunatic with a hateful black book about Leviticus — under his arm?
The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 20:13 applies only to priests refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays. Kids bullied into suicide …! Being black or left-handed or being gay is just as natural.
If the black community or women had it written that they should be put to death; how would they like that?
Churches are committing hate crimes and more succinctly a violent criminal offence against a federally protected minority namely the gay community. It is actually a bigger moment in history … gays standing up for equality … soldiers being discharged are indeed exposing something far greater … the realization that there is something far more evil at work — hateful religion which should be discharged from society — period.
Judge Cooper said: “There are other sorts of ‘sins’. Do you think you could concentrate on those for a bit?”’
Love it =D