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Friday, September 08, 2006

Censorship In The UK

The War on Speech goes overseas:

A police force was caught up in a freedom of speech row after its officers arrested an anti-gay campaigner for handing out leaflets at a homosexual rally.

South Wales police admitted evangelical Christian Stephen Green was then charged purely because his pamphlets contained anti-gay quotations from the Bible.

Mr Green faces a court appearance today charged with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour' after his attempt to distribute the leaflets at the weekend 'Mardi Gras' event in Cardiff.

A spokesman for the police said the campaigner had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but that officers arrested him because 'the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality'.

You know where this is going.

The leaflets were headed Same-Sex Love - Same-Sex Sex: What does the Bible Say?, and included a series of quotations from the 1611 King James Bible, a text usually regarded as one of the foundation stones of the English language.

Aimed at demonstrating Biblical disapproval of homosexual sex, they included from the Old Testament Leviticus 18.22, 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination'.

The leaflets also quoted Romans 1:25-27 from the New Testament, to the effect that homosexuals are given to 'vile affections'.

The handbills urged homosexuals to 'turn from your sins and you will be saved'.

Here's what one voice of dissent has to say:

Colin Hart of the Christian Institute think tank said: 'This was a very gentle leaflet. There was no use of words like "perversion". I have to wonder if churches, bishops and archbishops are now vulnerable to arrest for their views on homosexuality.

'It is noticeable that police never arrest Muslims who make remarks about homosexuality. They pick on Christians because it is easy, just as they pick on middle class drivers for speeding because it is easier than catching burglars.'

In Eugene Volokh's post on this story, I made this comment:

Censorship assumes that government can always interpret accurately the intent and influence of publications, and that when it comes to judging what is worthwhile to read, government knows best.

Make fisk, not censorship.

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(emphasis added)

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