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Suppression of Dissent::

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports:

[Evangelical Christian Stephen 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'....

The anti-gay campaigners were first asked by police to leave the site of the [Mardi Gras event] following 'complaints from the public', and complied with the request. However, they were approached again by police when they began handing out leaflets at the entrance to the park where the Mardi Gras was staged.

Mr Green refused to stop distributing leaflets and was arrested, and then questioned for four hours at a police station. He was charged after refusing a caution.

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'.

The charge against Mr Green is that he used 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby', contrary to the Public Order Act 1986....

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....'

There may well be more to the case than the article reports, of course; if readers know more, I'd much appreciate their pointing it out. I should note that I'm puzzled by Mr. Hart's distinction between "perversion" and "vile"/"abomination," but I agree that it's hard to draw a principled line between Mr. Green's leaflets and broadcasts, newspaper articles, and other anti-homosexuality items that may "insult[]," "alarm," or "distress" some readers. It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England.

liberty (mail) (www):
Not only in England, but at universities in the US too. The frightening this is that opinions - not directed attacks - can be considered "hate speech" or harrassment and criminalized.

Some speech must be regulated - yelling fire in a theatre or rousing the public against the government in revolution or terrorism - but quotes, religion, opinion, belief and the like cannot be regulated without losing all right of free speech. There is no line between the banning of religious speech and the banning of political speech. If you cannot pass out flyers in the public square about God, then you soon won't be able to pass out flyers in the public square about the other politics of the day - about laws that should be repealed and how the Tsar (oops, the parliament or the congress) are oppresive.
9.8.2006 7:17pm
Donald Kahn (mail):
English cops are perverse. Two of them questioned for four hours an old lady with a broken arm, pushed to the pavement by a young criminal, because she poked him gently in the belly when he verbally abused her and dared her to do anything about it.

These yobs own Britain. It was his mother who filed the complaint. Any proper cop would laugh in her face, and arrest the kid.
9.8.2006 7:19pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"English cops are perverse."

Its true. You can't defend yourself in the UK. You can be arrested for defending your home, certainly with a gun (which are mostly banned) but also with a knife. You have the burden of proof to show that the intruder was a mortal danger to you or your family. In fact, I am not certain that even protecting your family always holds up.
9.8.2006 7:23pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Obviously, this is a bad law because it censors anti-gay speech, and homophobes should have every right to express their opposition to gays and lesbians forming relationships.

Nonetheless, I frankly don't see why it is in any sense PARTICULARLY bad, as Professor Volokh implies, that the statute prohibits "publicly teaching traditional Christianity" as opposed to prohibiting some other sort of discourse.

If you want to label fervent opposition to homosexuality as "traditional Christianity" (a loaded label, as I am not entirely convinced that this was an issue that was of great concern to most Christian denominations until relatively recently, when gays and lesbians started to come out of the closet in large numbers), I guess that's one way to look at it. But the more correct label is probably "religiously-motivated homophobia" or something along those lines.

And the fact is, this kind of religious belief is not something to be celebrated, not something to receive more specific protections than other beliefs, and not something whose suppression should offend us any more than the suppression of any other noxious idea. Whether or not these people are really representing a religious belief, they are peddling a false idea, a form of bigotry that has enormous consequencess given the amount of violence and discrimination against gays and lesbians in the world today.

In other words, I shed no tears for "traditional Christianity". Just as I wish that Muslims that preach terrorism and the burqa would give up those beliefs, I wish that purveyors of what Professor Volokh calls "traditional Christianity" would enter the 21st Century and stop preaching hatred and bigotry.

What bothers me here-- and it is the ONLY thing that bothers me-- is that the English government is engaged in censorship.
9.8.2006 7:36pm
Dasarge:
This is just another item in a long, sad tale. In recent years, Parliament has abolished most of the traditional liberties of English-speaking peoples. The right to silence, the presumption of innocence, double jeopardy (after 700+ years!) -- all are gone. And, now it seems freedom of speech &religion are on their way out, too.

The Framers were right: a Bill of Rights is essential as the Rights of Englishmen are never safe while Parliament is in session.
9.8.2006 7:37pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
While I tend strongly to free speech absolutism I tend to find these sort of cases very troubling. Not because of the issue, while I'm a strong supporter of gay marriage I firmly believe in the right of anti-gay marriage groups to deliver their message, but because it seems impossible to formulate a rule that protects freedom of speech without destroying people's enjoyment of public events.

As far as I can tell this situation is exactly analagous to the gay protestors at funerals. Namely that the people involved find the speech so annoying and offensive that continued viewing of the speech ruins the event for them but there is no good way to prevent this without giving the government the power to restrict speech it disagrees with. This is enough of a problem in the US with it's traditions of individuality and the space to avoid those you dislike. In places like europe where tradition and simple need for space require that people live more communally the problem seems even more intractable.

So what is one to do? A society where everyone who appreciates a mardi grad type celebration or other community event can go and enjoy themselves is highly desierable. Yet virtually everyone finds certain sorts of speech so disturbing or revolting that merely keeping themselves from physical violence is a struggle and simply ignoring it and enjoying themselves is an impossibility.

I mean what would one do if a large group made it their mission to preech violently blasphemous (jesus molests children) speech whenever a christian town has a festival, virulent anti-homosexual rhetoric everytime SF holds the gay pride march and so forth? It surely seems possible to make these events uncomfrotable for almost everyone. On the one hand my intuition says that people should at least sometimes be free to enjoy community events without always having divisive issues pulling the community apart. On the other hand I can think of no way you can prevent even a small group of people from destroying this system without abridging free speech.
9.8.2006 7:48pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Dilan: "What bothers me here-- and it is the ONLY thing that bothers me-- is that the English government is engaged in censorship."

Then you're on the same page as the rest of us. None of us here are suggesting this is bad because we want to go pass out flyers about how gays will go hell (so far as I know). What we find disconcerting is the idea that speech is being censored. And if you can censor religious speech (be it homophobic or otherwise) you can censor political speech.

May political ideas are repugnant - if they weren't we would only need one party - but that speech must still be protected.
9.8.2006 7:53pm
liberty (mail) (www):
logicnazi,

They were just handing out flyers... I have been to many a gay pride march in NYC and there are always anti-gay Christians at the sidelines handing out "You will go to Hell" leaflets, and at many a protest there are crowds with signs to such effect, etc etc.

If you want to go out into the streets shouting what you care about, expect those who disagree to do the same. Have some tolerance!
9.8.2006 7:56pm
Angus:
I am very near an absolutist on free speech issues, but I want to take a step back here and wonder if this is really such a travesty of justice, and one that would certainly never happen here.

In the U.S., this activity could very well fall under the "fighting words" exception given the context of the speech -- namely at a gay pride event.

Couldn't, say, Neo-Nazis passing out anti-Jewish literature at a Jewish community event fall under the "fighting words" exception in the U.S.?
9.8.2006 8:07pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
EV:"It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England."

Better to outlaw "traditional Christianity" than to outlaw human nature.

In any case, Britain does not have free speech in the American legal sense. The laws are far more restrictive, and the burdens regarding slander and libel quite different.

Even in the U.S., though it violates the law, protestors have been arrested to avoid giving offense to some person or group or other. Try protesting the Iraq War anywhere in the vicinity of George W. Bush, and you will find that words like peace and love get you the same treatment as telling people trying to have a good time, that they are an abomination.
9.8.2006 8:14pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
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.
9.8.2006 8:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
logicnazi

Suppose someone held a "heterosexual pride" parade or a "white pride" parade, assuming they could get a permit. Don't you think protestors would appear handing out leaflets or even engaging in violence? Need I remind you of the organization called "Act Up?"
9.8.2006 8:33pm
AppSocRes (mail):
It's ironic that Christian Englishmen seeking to freely express their religious views (Milton in Araeopagetica, Defoe in numerous pamphlets, Penn, etc.) were the original motivating force behind the liberal (in its 19th century sense) concept of free speech. The Stuarts - were they alive today - would share more than just their homosexual sympathies with tcontemporary enemies of free speech in England and the US.
9.8.2006 8:46pm
MarkM (mail):
What is disturbing about this case is that even allowing for different legal approaches for free speech, the country that gave the world John Locke is forbidding the expression of certain religious doctrine in public when it offends some people. Based on the summary, it seems the group did not even include the old favorite line about how homosexuals should be put to death. Unless there is some context missing from here, it doesn't seem that these people were trying to threaten anyone; just express their point of view that was annoying or offensive to some.

To respond to logicnazi, this is not on the same plane as funeral protestors as distributing leaflets is more inconspicuous. The best response to this kind of behavior is to laugh it off or ignore ignorant people like this. Restrictions on behavior that reduce public enjoyment cut both ways and consistently applying this standard would give us cities less like San Francisco and more like Singapore. I doubt this is something liberals who may be somewhat sympathetic to this police action would want to see happen.
9.8.2006 8:49pm
Shelby (mail):
Query whether Mr. Green would have been arrested had he couched his arguments in terms of the Koran rather than the Bible, and made them while in Muslim garb.
9.8.2006 9:17pm
Appellate Attorney:
I wish that purveyors of what Professor Volokh calls "traditional Christianity" would enter the 21st Century ...

C.S. Lewis, an Englishman who would not be surprised by the current state of affairs in Britain (See perhaps his best book That Hideous Strength), called "reasoning" by dates rather than according to logic "chronological snobbery." It seems an apt turn of phrase
9.8.2006 9:20pm
Eric Morgenstern:
It seems virtually certain that "traditional Christianity" can be reasonably understood to embrace or to reject anti-gay ideology. The author's one-sided use of the term in this context was disappointing.
9.8.2006 9:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Appellate:

By that reckoning, all allusions to progress are "chronological snobbery". Saying that someone who believes the earth is flat should enter the 21st Century is "chronological snobbery". Same with saying that about someone who thinks the sun revolves around the earth.

Come on, these are people who haven't accepted a change in societal mores that is a change for the better, which has welcomed gays and lesbians into the human community when they were shunned in the past.

Western Culture got better; these folks stayed behind. Criticizing people because they oppose progress is no type of snobbery at all.
9.8.2006 9:30pm
dpw:
The actions of the British Authorities only take the feelings of the homosexual comunity into account. I would be very surprised if there were not people at the Mardi Gras (advertised as "one of the biggest free lesbian and gay events in the country") distributing literature that Mr. Green would find threatening, abusive or insulting. Based on the pictures posted from previous events on the organizers web site (http://82.133.50.107/www.cardiffmardigras.co.uk/index.asp), I am sure that there was behavior that would have caused Mr. Green and his friends alarm or distress.

If Mr. Green's actions were a violation of the references statute, then the actions of many in attendance at the event would have been as well.
9.8.2006 9:34pm
Justin (mail):
The UK doesn't have the same concept of free speech as we do, and I'm unsure that absent some reconceptualization of their system of government, we should assume that our way of governing us is better for them.

I'd be horribly upset and disappointed if such a prosecution happened in the US, but I'm more than happy to allow England reasonable restraints on speech if thats what their citizenry desires.
9.8.2006 9:53pm
liberty (mail) (www):
dpw: "If Mr. Green's actions were a violation of the references statute, then the actions of many in attendance at the event would have been as well."

True, but at least in the States many events require a permit, so arguably they have more latitude as they have essentially booked the public space for their event.

However, unless we want to limit our free speech rights by regulating where and when speech is condoned according to who paid for a permit: ultimately leading to regimented military society where no dissent is allowed in public places because the park was already booked; no counter protests that were not planned in advance and able to book the space, no spontanious disagreement, then we should not follow their lead. This is not to say that any disturbance of a planned event is alright - certainly causing a ruckus or a riot should not be condoned, nor intruding upon a somber event such as a funeral - but simple pamphlets and speech are a part of a free society.

Curtailing these rights simply because you don't want to hurt the feelings of a minority when they are clearly within the limits of free speech will set a dangerous precedent.
9.8.2006 10:15pm
Just:
*Trying to keep this one polite so it doesn't get pulled*

I hope it's ok to note that you've mentioned before you are Jewish by religion. I hope it's also ok to note that you have erred in previous posts, and corrected yourself under the UPDATE heading. Therefore, I hope you are not to offended when I suggest you do a little more reading before you pull out sentences like this one:

"It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England."

There are many many words of Jesus that are deemed greater examples of teaching "traditional Christianity".


Perverting another's religion (Christianity) by mischaracterizing Mr. Green's actions here as "teaching traditional Christianity" really really displays your ignorance at our religion, Mr. Volokh.

Indeed, you're helping reinforce the notion that Christianity disproves of homosexuality -- has someone convinced you of that, sir? No offense taken, we all err, but on this one, you are just plain reaching. I can't help but wonder why...
9.8.2006 11:03pm
Just:
Just reading the comments now, and I see many others -- perhaps more knowledgeable of the Christian religion than the Mr. Volokh -- have voiced the same concerns about his choice of words in framing and labeling a religion's tenets.

Whew. Observe, take note, and disagree, even when the person is a well respected legal professor. Perhaps especially when the person is a well respected legal professor.

Mischaracterizations are cheap ways of winning an argument (and I do agree with the main point of no censorship, so why cheapen with mischaracterizing a true religion's beliefs? For the record, I suspect as anti-homosexual opinions fall into lesser regard, you'll see more of these types of public actions, just as we commonly don't allow racial slurs or arguments to be advanced in public, even though they are "legal". Plus, I really think Mr. Volokh is stretching here to think that a bishop or clergy would run into problems expressing their opinions in their own places of worship, where they are more likely to be acting in good faith. In fact, I know you won't find any Catholic leaders standing on the street corners handing out pamphlets pushing their "traditional Christianity". Have no fear! The faith is strong enough w/o such defenders who would characterize homosexuals as operating against "traditional Christian" mores.)
9.8.2006 11:14pm
Just:
Folks,

Let's take back the word CHRISTIANITY.
If your an outsider to the faith: listen up, this anti-homosexual preaching isn't what it's about...

read some of the red letter, spoken words in the book of the spoken Jewish carpenter -- Mr. Volokh got taken by those who would hijack the faith.

Just as he would call for the peaceful Muslims to push back when others pervert the name of their faith, so must we now. Good point to make, lost a lot in the presentation.

Trying to spin Mr. Green's actions into "teaching traditional Christianity" just doesn't cut it, Mr.V.
9.8.2006 11:19pm
Just:
"I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me (My Teachings) shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."

By misconstruing His teachings, you do any of your more unfamiliar readers a true disservice.


And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)

In Jesus' teachings, our relationship with our fellow men, women and children is inseparable from our relationship with God. Love of God and love of our neighbors are two aspects of the same calling:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)
9.8.2006 11:24pm
Just:

One day an expert on Moses' laws came to test Jesus' orthodoxy by asking him this question: "Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?" Jesus replied, "What does Moses' law say about it?" "It says," he replied, "that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself." "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you shall live!" The man wanted to justify (his lack of love for some kinds of people), so he asked, "Which neighbors?" Jesus replied with an illustration: "A Jew going on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, and beat him up and left him lying half dead beside the road. "By chance a Jewish priest came along; and when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Jewish Temple-assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but then went on. "But a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two twenty-dollar bills and told him to take care of the man. 'If his bill runs higher than that,' he said, 'I'll pay the difference the next time I am here.' "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the bandits' victim?" The man replied, "The one who showed him some pity." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." (TLB, Luke 10:25-37)
9.8.2006 11:26pm
Just:

It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England.


Gag. Sorry, just reread your closing words, and again, I'm just gagging on the ignorance on display here.


It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England.
9.8.2006 11:30pm
Truth Seeker:
Just, if you think homosexuality is not rejected by traditional Christianity, maybe you should check with the Pope, rather than your local gay bishop.
9.8.2006 11:45pm
Riskable (mail) (www):
Do I detect a Bible quote war? Bring it on! Let's see who which passage best defines Christianity, shall we? Think of this as, "Christianity: The not-so-missing manual"...

Exodus 31:15, "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death."

...and just in case that point wasn't clear, we see it again:

Exodus 35:2, "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death."

...but how about something more relevant to this blog post?

Leviticus 20:13, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death."

Even better, here's what happens to you if you don't believe in all that Bible jazz:

Leviticus 24:16, "Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him."

Death by stoning! How classy. Here's some more happy fun quotes from the sacred Christian text:

Leviticus 25:44, "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life."

Geeze, right? Something like that could make you scream, "Jesus H. Christ! What a barbarous guide the Bible is!" Hence, many Christians don't really believe in most of that old-testament stuff. To them, it is more of a reminder of the old days. Before we were all, "saved". The New Testament is the softer side of the Bible...

Titus 2:9, "Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative."

Ahh, instead of just beating our conquered/captured slaves into submission, Jesus's book says we must urge them to do our bidding. There's more New Testament slave stuff:

Col. 3:22, "Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God"

Now it is time for me to mention that these are but small aspects of the Bible. Tiny flecks of ancient "wisdom" passed down for generations. The best part about it is that it is entirely up to each Christian's interpretation! That's right folks, some Christians will be homophobic because it suits their personal tastes. Some will think, "Gay is A-OK!" because they interpret the text their own way. Some will just plain pick &choose which text they want to believe in because it's convenient.

In any case, it is all gibberish. Someone calling themselves a Christian is getting more &more ambiguous every day. A Christian might as well say, "Well, I hang out with these folks on Sunday but not those folks. They like gays."

I'll leave with one of my favorite Bible tidbits: Everyone knows about the Ten Commandments, but do you know about the Ten Punishments? They're what happens to people who don't follow the Ten Commandments:

1. Exodus 22:20: He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
2. Leviticus 24:16: And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death.
3. Exodus 31:15: Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
4. Exodus 21:15: He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
5. Exodus 21:17: He that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
6. Exodus 22:19: Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
7. Leviticus 20:13: If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.
8. Leviticus 20:10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
9. Mark 16:16: He that believeth not, shall be damned.
10. Malachi 2:1-4: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, … behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces.

"Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established." -Ludwig Feuerbach, philosopher (1804-1872)

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
9.9.2006 12:14am
Just:
Unfortunately "Truth Seeker", teaching anti-homosexuality is not the same as "teaching traditional Christianity", no matter how you spin it. Traditional Christianity is so much bigger than one small issue, and if you don't know this, I suggest it should be you to check with Catholic or other traditional Christian leaders.

As worded, this is not "traditional Christian teaching". Please educate yourself before making such sweeping comments.
9.9.2006 12:20am
Just:
Riskable--

What exactly are your credentials as a "traditional Christian teacher"? (I can tell from the Bible quotes that you are not a Catholic).

I have no problem if you select those quotations as your opinions, but it certainly is reaching to suggest that such views represent "traditional Christian teaching."
9.9.2006 12:23am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
A couple of clerics in Australia were prosecuted for reading from the Koran in a Christian service. The complaint was that this ridiculed the Muslim faith.

The PC police will go through logic, western civ's customs, hard-won freedoms, and existing law to accomodate anybody who can claim accredited victimhood.

And, no, nobody with an ounce of sense would put a dime on the possibility a Muslim would be arrested for the same thing.
9.9.2006 12:35am
Riskable (mail) (www):
"Just", it is not that I am a teacher of traditional Christian values. It is that I am a teacher of traditional Christian books. If you find my quotes from the Bible to be offensive, perhaps you should warn others away from its maleficence.

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
9.9.2006 12:49am
AppSocRes (mail):
People: a man was arrested and may be imprisoned for pamphleteering. This is preceisely what happened to Defoe under the Stuarts and I hope most of us were taught this was a terrible thing. Many of the posters here seem to enjoy the idea of repression as long as it is directed at ideas they don't like. I'm thinking particularly of those with rants about what constitutes "true" Christianity or about how homosexuals are sooo easily shattered by anyone expressing disagreement with their life style. Those of you in this category might wish to contemplate that you are a very small minority and if public opinion is marshalled against you at some point in the future, rights like freedom of speech may be your ultimate protection when times get tough again --- as a study of history suggests they surely will.
9.9.2006 12:50am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Perverting another's religion (Christianity) by mischaracterizing Mr. Green's actions here as "teaching traditional Christianity" really really displays your ignorance at our religion, Mr. Volokh.

Speaking as one who is anything but a traditional Christian...

(1) Perhaps you have a Father of the Church, Council (or, if Protestant, an appropriate citation from Luther, Calvin, etc.) to prove your point?

(2) Six posts in a row suggests a certain obsessive-compulsive trait.

(3) I don't give a rat's hindquarters where the guy was charged for making an argument from traditional Christianity, nontraditional Christianity, or Zenzen Buddhism that teaches enlightenment flows from chugging a quarter of whiskey and urinating into an electric lightsocket. The fact is that some guy was criminally charged for making a perfectly civil statement as to his religious beliefs. I would be as fully annoyed if he were busted for handling out leaflets stating that Christianity approved of being gay. If an idea has any merit, it does not need the force of law to suppress its opposition.
9.9.2006 12:55am
Just:
"If you find my quotes from the Bible to be offensive..."

You are missing the point -- the objection or plain "wrongness" of the last sentence.

A traditional Christian would no more state that his religion, the core teachings of Christ, means "being anti-homosexual" than I suspect a Jew would say it's all about refraining from shellfish.

Some fundamentalists might believe this; traditional Christianity places other words of Jesus far, far ahead of anything someone might dig out of Leviticus.
9.9.2006 1:02am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Leviticus 25:44, "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.

Hmm... a solution to the illegal immigration problem, I suppose.

As I once pointed out (to a Moslem, btw), Christianity has the advantage that it has an Old Testament background of very specific rules, with a New Testament overlay of generalities (do not judge, forgive, love your neighbor, etc.). Thus you can reach any desired result by either (a) the following is the OT rule, which is not specifically overruled by the NT, or (b) arguing that the NT generality overrules the OT specific.

In short, an excellent background for legal studies.
9.9.2006 1:03am
Just:
"I don't give a rat's hindquarters where the guy was charged for making an argument from traditional Christianity, nontraditional Christianity, or Zenzen Buddhism that teaches enlightenment flows from chugging a quarter of whiskey and urinating into an electric lightsocket."


Some of us do though.
And I think you're wrong, off a bit on the Buddist beliefs there too...

Surely you can make your point without misconstruing what a religion is all about? Particularly if you are a respected legal scholar, with no bias one way or another.
9.9.2006 1:08am
Truth Seeker:
Just, give it up, homofascism is not the way to go. If you want respect for your beliefs, then respect others' beliefs as well and don't try to put them in jail for it.
9.9.2006 2:23am
David M. Nieporent (www):
The UK doesn't have the same concept of free speech as we do, and I'm unsure that absent some reconceptualization of their system of government, we should assume that our way of governing us is better for them.

I'd be horribly upset and disappointed if such a prosecution happened in the US, but I'm more than happy to allow England reasonable restraints on speech if thats what their citizenry desires.
I see. So all that ranting and raving you do about the evil Bush administration and all its alleged violations of civil liberties have no principle behind them at all? There's nothing whatsoever wrong with indiscriminate searches/eavesdropping; there's nothing wrong with torture, there's nothing wrong with censorship. They're just different traditions, and hey, if some country's citizens -- say, the USA's citizens -- desire these things, well, they just have different "concepts" than you do, so it's perfectly okay. Right?

Free speech isn't actually a fundamental human right; it's just a "way of governing." We should just put it to a vote, and see what people want.
9.9.2006 5:26am
Just:

Gee, I wonder if a person stood on a street corner and taught Jesus' words if they would be arrested.

Very disappointing to see the words in the last sentence have not been altered.

I guess we are all supposed to buy that this man was just "teaching traditional Christianity" on a street corner and was arrested.

Now, it alleges through fear, authorities might even come through the church doors for those who "teach traditional Christianity".

Fear mongering through misinformation.
How said for the Volokh clan and those who blog under his name.
Apparently, fear --rather than accurately acknowledging the facts of the story -- is an effective tool. I wonder what the writer here expects to accomplish from it?

Folks, what that man was preaching on the street corner is not what passes for "traditional Christian teaching".

Don't buy it, and in the future, consider the credibility of the Volokh source.
9.9.2006 6:57am
Just:


And remember,
Free Speech is only as good as the those who practice it. Distortions serve no one.
9.9.2006 6:58am
Just:
"If you want respect for your beliefs, then respect others' beliefs as well and don't try to put them in jail for it."

You should read the article and not just the fearful spin. This man was not randomly plucked from the crowd for his beliefs. It was a situation -- not protected under America's first amendment -- that the man was requested not to present his views, in that manner, to that crowd. Doubtlessly in America, it comes out different.

My concern, still not addressed, is the spin:

This is not going to endanger the practice of "traditional Christian teaching" anymore than anti-Semitic American crowds are going to bar the doors to the synagogues anytime soon. Fear mongering sucks, no matter who practices. I just for the life of me can't figure out why Mr.V. would feel the need to spin and mischaracterize in this way. Do you have a genuine Christian colleague that you could show this thread too, who might understand and be able to direct you on where your words have failed your argument here? I hope so because this is offensive and obviously you're just not seeing it.
9.9.2006 7:27am
Just:
"They're just different traditions, and hey, if some country's citizens -- say, the USA's citizens -- desire these things, well, they just have different "concepts" than you do, so it's perfectly okay. Right?"

OT:
Sure, isn't that why the secret CIA prisons were located in Poland and elsewhere?
9.9.2006 7:32am
Appellate Attorney (mail):
Just: A traditional Christian would no more state that his religion, the core teachings of Christ, means "being anti-homosexual" than I suspect a Jew would say it's all about refraining from shellfish.

The traditional view of Christianity has always been that although some matters of doctrine are more important than others, true "Christianity" includes every Christian teaching, not just the core teachings (I think this would be the case with every religion or system of belief).

Some Christian doctrines are more important than others, of course -- no one disputes this -- but even the smaller doctrinal matters are still part of the whole of Christianity. It seems, however, that you treat your personal definition of "core" Christianity as though it is all of Christianity and, based on this view, falsely characterize what the owner of this blog, Prof. Volokh, said.

Prof. Volokh did not claim, as you incorrectly imply, that Christinity is all about disapproval of homosexual behavior or that disapproval of such is a core Christian teaching. Rather, he recognized that disapproval of homosexual behavior is part of traditional Christianity. In short, Prof. Volokh's statement is an assertion of historic fact, not doctrinal correctness, or ethical conviction.

Thus, to refute Prof. Volokh, you must show how he is incorrect as a matter of history. This means that you must show how, over the past 2,000 years, "traditional Christianity" -- whether defined as Catholic, Protestant, or something else -- has, in fact, not taught that homosexual behavior is sinful. Note that it doesn't matter whether that teaching is core or not, only that it exists or not.

Because you have not made your case from history, you have not refuted Prof. Volokh. I don't think you can make such a case, based on my knowledge of history. But my opinion about the historic facts doesn't matter right now. It is enough to point out that you haven't even attempted the proper inquiry.
9.9.2006 11:01am
Just:
AA.,

I suspect you are not a practicing Christian.

I stand by my views that Mr.Volokh's last sentence mischaracterizes what the gentleman on the street corner was doing.

Mr. Volokh has way overreached here in trying to make what I believe is a valid point regarding censorship.

Chiefly,
This man was there to distribute anti-homosexual information which he cited to the Bible. He was not there to "teach traditional Christianity". He was there to "demonstrate Biblical disapproval of homosexual sex". Something big is missing there in making the jump from one statement to the next.

If you believe he was there teaching "traditional Christian teaching", where were all of the other messages -- about faith, love, and forgiveness that rank high in traditional Christian teaching -- that many educated and conservative Christians believers use to refute the specially chosen Bible verses and dispute the idea that homosexualness in itself is "vile"?

I realize it may be sophisticated if you are not well grounded in traditional Christian teachings, but believe me: what this man was doing with his pamphlets is not representing "traditional Christian teachings".

Talk to conservative Christian/Catholic clergy if you need to better understand what the Christian faith is all about and the Christian view of homosexuality.

Mr. Volokh is making serious misrepresentations here, buying into the fundamentalist or extremist views of a religion he does not fully understand.

He was there to "demonstrate Biblical disapproval of homosexual sex". He was asked to leave, and arrested after he ignored the caution.
9.9.2006 12:04pm
jtotheunyo (mail):
If this were Alabama, and the event a church revival, and the person arrested gay and handing out leaflets encouraging people to give gay sex a try, I wonder if more outrage would be generated... But on the other hand you never take away freedom by assaulting the middle, the fashionable. You pick at the margins and the fringes; "Well yeah it sucks, but those people are [insert pejorative]. They need to [insert pithy 3-5 word analysis/writeoff of complex social system], get with the rest of the world and [statement that validates your group/viewpoint/PC stance]" And people sleep until it's their margin being assaulted. "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done there is nothing new under the sun..."(ECC 1:9 RSV) I'm an outlaw baby.
9.9.2006 12:27pm
Just:

I think I take your point, jt.

I suspect many intellectuals like MrV. are just not used to Christians calling them out on their statements. Thus, the words and actions of the most extreme help define the word "Christian" in the minds of unbelievers.

Here's hoping this will change, as more Christians begin to stand up and speak out. It happened -- verrrry slowwwlly -- for example, with the child abuse investigations spurred by Cathoic laymen.

I suspect in coming years we will be forced to see more Christians standing up and truly practicing what they preach.

Then perhaps others like those on Volokh blog will have a better idea of what traditional Christian teachings are all about (for example, pro-Christian family does not equal "anti-gay", no matter what the current Christian extremists might currently have you believe).
9.9.2006 12:45pm
James of England:
Just, I don't know if AA is a practicing Christian, but I know that my classmates when I was getting my Master's degree in Theology at St. Andrew's University were. There were a wide variety of different views hotly and regularly debated, both in seminars and over coffee or beer.

There are a number of ways that you could make valid claims in this area. You could say that the early church condoned homosexual behaviour and/ or orientation and integrated it into some ceremonies. I think that the evidence for this is poor, but there are genuine debates about it. You could argue that there were other traditions, perhaps linked to each other, that maintained similar support for homosexuals throughout... well, different queer historians build their ideas around different time frames. You could argue that the traditional teachings were wrong.

Arguing that the bulk of the church, the body of Christ, has, over the centuries, repudiated those passages of the bible that condemn homosexuality is not something that can be argued in good faith. Indeed, your ducking of Dave Hardy's challenge suggests that you don't even have a token quote from a father to represent your point. I'd disagree with his other claim, though, that the New Testament just had generalities, the Old Testament specifics. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 seems pretty specific:

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

If you want "traditional christianity", try the KJV for verse 9. "9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,".

Alternatively, try Romans 1:26-27:
"26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.


I'm guessing that it's for this reason that you keep referring to "the words of Jesus Christ", as if St. Paul was not a fount of traditional christian doctrine. These passages may be misunderstood. They may be, Da Vinci Code-like, snuck in there and misattributed by early sneaky homophobes. They may have been wrongly included in the Canon. There's a lot of arguments against them, even before you get to the question of whether we should respect them even if they are a source of traditional christian doctrine. You cannot, in good faith, argue that they have traditionally been repudiated or understood by Christians to mean anything else.

When Calvin ordained that homosexuals should be executed, he was not expressing support for gay rights, nor can the Anglican's historical agreement. The Catholic Catechism's description of homosexual acts as "grave depravity", "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law" are not positive descriptions. If Calvin's teachings, the teachings of the Holy See, and the views of the translators of almost every bible translated into English before our lifetimes cannot be considered to be traditional Christian views, what can?
9.9.2006 1:37pm
James of England:
Oh, another argument that needs refuting. Although no Jew would say that his faith primarily concerned the consumption of shellfish, an Orthodox Jew instructing people on this doctrine of kosher eating would be "teaching traditional [Judaism]", no?

Fractions aren't the most important thing in Math, but it's hard to argue that during primary school classes on fractions the teachers aren't "teaching traditional [math]", no?

Oh, and I'm not sure I follow your use of the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable says that one of the three people who sees the victim is the victim's neighbour (the other two are not the victim's neighbours), and that designation is based upon the neighbour's behaviour. It sounds as if you're trying to argue that the parable suggests that behaviour is irrelevent to attaining loved neighbour status. Is this not a little, dare I say it, perverse?
9.9.2006 1:46pm
PeterH:
Did we ever get to the point of finding out just what went on at the event?

I remember a recent US case where, at a Gay Pride event, some prostester waded into the crowd in front of the main stage and started shouting anti-gay Bible quotes through megaphones directly into people's faces, right in front of what was going on (which did have permits and all from the city.)

Then, when they were arrested for disturbing the peace, all the media reports quoted them as having been arrested for "preaching God's word."

So, while in this case it seems more clear that it really was just the leaflets, it often isn't, and it is time that the behavior and the content get separated.

Does anyone know if someone else passing out other leaflets would have been arrested as well? Or is there any indication that while passing out leaflets, this guy might have been getting into people's faces? Or disrupting the event?
9.9.2006 1:53pm
Riskable (mail) (www):
James of England, you make an excellent point: Traditional Christianity is very much anti-homosexual.

Now I have to take this a bit further: If traditional Christianity's stance on homosexuality is incompatible with western enlightenment, why keep Christianity around? Why not start a new religion or just drop it altogether?

If a person's faith is built upon "love thy neighbor" and forgiveness why bother with the supernatural/superstitious stuff? It is a simple matter to write these things down and proclaim, "This, I believe!"

By continually giving credence to the Bible and pointing it out as a central authority on belief, you continue the tradition of Christianity. You are an enabler for those wicked and cruel who will use the Bible to twist the minds of the innocent and bring them into unreasonable and unethical beliefs.

Belief without reason or evidence is faith. Faith can lead to actions and actions based on unethical doctrines litter our history as the keystones of the worst horrors of mankind. In the heart of great injustice lies a popular belief and a sacred text backing it up.

I am against censorship, but I am still saddened when a chorus of people proudly proclaim their common belief and justify it by quoting a sacred text. Today the common belief may be harmless, but tomorrow any one of us could be crucified by it.

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
9.9.2006 2:30pm
godfodder (mail):
Peter H:
Yes, I agree with your point completely! Here's a quote from the article:

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....'

There is a big difference between someone quietly handing out pamphlets and someone shouting through a bullhorn into people's faces. The only "offensive" thing about what this man did was the words and ideas printed on the papers he distributed. That's outlawing ideas, pure and simple.

Of course, this is just one of many logical outcomes of the PC project of making "protected" classes of people. Gay men have a "right" to never hear Christian condemnation of their behavior. Why? Because it hurts their feelings. Christians, not being a legally special group, have no such right to be protected from messages they find offensive. Get it? Some people's moral beliefs are more special than other people's.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Has the Left changed one iota since Orwell's time?
9.9.2006 2:42pm
Appellate Attorney (mail):
If traditional Christianity's stance on homosexuality is incompatible with western enlightenment ... [w]hy not start a new religion ... ?

It seems that commenter Just has done just that, with his individualized "core Christianity" and companion self-edited Bible. In fact, the religion of Just is very similar to enlightenment rationalism, because it elevates the judgement of man, or, rather each individual man, above every other religious authority.

Just isn't yet a consistent enlightenment man-worshipper, because he also thinks the Bible is authoritative and hasn't realized that by picking and choosing what he likes from it, he has actually denied the authority of the Bible by subordinating it to his own will. I suspect, however, that this inconsistency will be resolved in time one way or the other, for better or for worse...
9.9.2006 2:50pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
And I think you're wrong, off a bit on the Buddist beliefs there too... Surely you can make your point without misconstruing what a religion is all about? Particularly if you are a respected legal scholar, with no bias one way or another.

I was referring to Zenzen.

"It was said that a student came to the Master and asked "how can I achieve enlightenment?" The Master asked, "have you eaten dinner?" He replied yes, and the Master answered "then go and clean your bowl." It is said that the student achieved enlightenment.

Another student begged the Master for the key to enlightenment, piteously and at great length. Finally the Master replied "Go drink a quart of Jim Beam and pee in an electric light socket, and enlightenment will be yours." It is said that this student, too, achieved enlightenment, since he never again asked the Master how to obtain it."
9.9.2006 2:54pm
Appellate Attorney:
Some people's moral beliefs are more special than other people's.

Indeed. Neutrality is impossible. The only question is which standard governs. Another way to put it is which standard is enforced by the civil government.

The West used to be basically Christian, and Christian ethical standards were (not perfectly or consistently but generally) reflected in the law. These days. however, generally pagan ethical standards (at least in the area of sexual practice and the law) are systematically replacing Christian standards -- because law follows morality, which follows religion. Even atheism is a religious position, albeit a negative one, and, like all religious positions, comes with ethical implications. It's not a matter of faith v. reason, but which faith governs.
9.9.2006 3:05pm
Just:
It sounds as if you're trying to argue that the parable suggests that behaviour is irrelevent to attaining loved neighbour status.

It seems that commenter Just has done just that, with his individualized "core Christianity" and companion self-edited Bible. In fact, the religion of Just is very similar to enlightenment rationalism, because it elevates the judgement of man, or, rather each individual man, above every other religious authority.


As a Christian,
I know Jesus. I know what he taught to the people in his parables. If you don't understand the Good Samaritan story, and the concept of loving your neighbor as you would love yourself, I'm not here to educate you.

I've said it before, I'll say it again:
The self-selected Biblical portions (OT?) that street corner gentleman was preaching cannot be unquestioninly defined as "traditional Christian teaching". That does a big disservice to those who truly practice Christianity.

There's just too many Christians who disagree would disagree with how that pamphleteer interpreted Jesus' message of Christianity, and how it should be interepreted regarding homosexuals.

Maybe you need to get out of the Evangelical Christian (minority but loud) circles, and not put all your faith in the citations of "the Christian Institute think tank".
9.9.2006 3:23pm
Just:
"The West used to be basically Christian, and Christian ethical standards were (not perfectly or consistently but generally) reflected in the law. These days. however, generally pagan ethical standards (at least in the area of sexual practice and the law) are systematically replacing Christian standards"

Oh, I wouldn't be such a pessimist, AA. Have no fear.
Christianity will survive this misidentification kerfluffle about who's in and who's out. Because it really isn't about exclusion, which I'm sure you know when you consider Jesus' words in full and who he befriended and who he chastised in his times. As for me and mine...
9.9.2006 3:28pm
Just:
"Just isn't yet a consistent enlightenment man-worshipper, because he also thinks the Bible is authoritative and hasn't realized that by picking and choosing what he likes from it, he has actually denied the authority of the Bible by subordinating it to his own will. "

Yeah, blah, blah, blah. I picked out the text that helps define the basics of Christianity to show where the two messages were in conflict, and which one has the greater emphasis.

I realize now you are reading from a different text, and want to warp facts to fit your worldview. Anyone who calls themselves a Christian yet doesn't believe their religion should be interpreted in the way of the pamphlets is in clear violation of "traditional Christian teaching." Says you.
9.9.2006 3:34pm
Just:
"There is a big difference between someone quietly handing out pamphlets and someone shouting through a bullhorn into people's faces. The only "offensive" thing about what this man did was the words and ideas printed on the papers he distributed."

Yeah, right on!
Why should the British police get away with not enforcing America's First Amendment anyway? He was warned once and for whatever law enforcement, crowd control reason told not to continue passing out his "Christian" literature. What the hell kind of First Amendment rights is that -- sue those Brit cops, I say! What we do in our country holds true for everyone everywhere, and we all know what Christianity has to say about homosexuality, eh?
9.9.2006 3:41pm
Just:
Oh and, please let me know the next time you legal scholars will teaching Christianity lessons.

Obviously what some non-evangelical sects teach must be wrong, according to those traditional teachings and all.
9.9.2006 3:44pm
Reg (mail):
Traditional Christianity interprets the Bible so that it means what it says, to accord with history, and to avoid any contradiction. That includes the passages written by Paul about homosexuality.

I've heard of Just's arguments, but have never heard them called "traditional." When current moral trends are used to discount parts of the Bible, that is not traditional interpretation. I'd say Just is doing more mischaracterizing than Volokh.
9.9.2006 4:09pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I tend to discount web-commenters claiming to be "traditional Christians" who confuse forgiveness and the possibility of redemption with moral relativism. Also, anyone who shouts "love thy neighbor as thyself" without realizing that you CAN'T "love your neighbor" while encouraging his continued sinfulness is probably trying to subvert the religion to validate his own self-satisfying belief system.

Forgiveness is not a liscense to sin. Loving a sinner is does not mean his sin is ok. Anyone who tells you otherwise is desparately trying to reconcile their beliefs with their lifestyle.

"Go forth, and sin no more."
9.9.2006 4:22pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Just: I find your arguments to be unsound and shrill, but you may make them on this thread. I don't plan to reply to their substance, but I don't reply to a great many comments.

But stop posting off-topic references to your debates with me into other unrelated threads (as you did twice), and stop spamming this thread: You've posted twenty comments above, including at one point six in a row. Enough already.

I can't threaten you with being banned (as I had already done in the past, because you were rude, but you came back), because your IP address changes.

But if you continue posting off-topic items in other threads, or so ridiculously overwhelming a single thread, I will simply delete your comments.
9.9.2006 4:47pm
Walk It:
EV: I can't threaten you with being banned (as I had already done in the past, because you were rude, but you came back), because your IP address changes.

You must be mistaken. This is the same IP address, with the same service provider I've always had. Remember, I even called and spoke with you at your office, gave you my complete name, and we had a very brief discussion? If you lifted the ban on your end, that's not me changing anything here.


And all of the supporting references from commenters here that I have been attempting to respond to when they mischaracterize my words, (imagine that!) still have not proved your point.

The day those selected Bible phrases pass for "traditional Christian teaching" as a whole (you are aware there are a number of Christian denominations, right? You are aware not all rely so heavily on Bible verses, and there is ongoing debate as to which teachings carry more importance? Any chance you'd actually discuss this with a fellow scholar who is a non-evangelical Christian?? ) is the day I give it up.

I realize you have no intention of correcting that mischaracterization, so let it stand. Thank you for giving me my say; I'm quite comfortable with how I've defended myself here. We'll just have to chalk this one up to different interpretations of Christianity's teachings, with each of us comfortable in his own presentation and neither budging.

Goodbye and sincere good luck to you in the future.
9.9.2006 5:52pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"Walk It" and "Just" are the same person? This explains a lot.
9.9.2006 5:55pm
Fub:
Dave Hardy wrote:
I was referring to Zenzen.
Thanks for the clarification. I thought you were referring to Bootism, a sect apparently founded long after the first patriarch Bodhidharma was posthumously sighted walking west carrying one shoe.
9.9.2006 7:34pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Haven't been here for a bit but I want to clarify my position.

First I really just meant I was troubled. If I have to make a choice between community activities, social support or similar goods and the right to air one's views in some way restricted only in viewpoint neutral fashion I will choose free speech every time.

Secondly my concern is not that a 'bad' message will get handed out or that people are being harrassed with such vile speech. I do think anti-gay propoganda is pretty bad but I think plenty of mainstream beliefs like christianity are as well. Thus the presence of counter protestors does nothing to reassure me. It actually makes the situation worse.

My concern is that while it is important all groups be able to get their message out it also seems important to have purely social or festive events which serve to bring people together despite their differences (then when they do discuss them maybe they will be more likely to reach common ground). In other words I think it's important that everyone in a town be able to enjoy some generic town pride parade without being forced to divide along sectarian lines or be battered with speech they find hard to take.

It's just like thanksgiving dinner with the family. Even in families it's important that people be allowed to express their disenting opinions. If I believe there is good reason to reject the existance of god I shouldn't have to perpetually listen to other people in my family talk about their faith without expressing my view on the subject. However, it is important and necessery that these discussions occur at the appropriate time and place and that thanksgiving dinner isn't marred by people raising issues known to be disruptive.

The problem with this is that I don't think there is any viewpoint neutral way to legally enforce this sort of rule. It would clearly be unfair to ban speech about poor treatment of indians on native american awareness day. When the speech is clearly relevant to the event it needs to be allowed. However, speech that is clearly irrelevant to the event at hand and particularly devisive would be better displayed somewhere else but I don't think it is possible to draw a distinction that wouldn't be emminently abusable.

Sigh, I guess I'm just going to bite the bullet and say it sucks but there is nothing the government should do about people disrupting (via their message) otherwise non-divisive events. I mean after all someone who just opposes a lack of strident conflict generally could relevantly bring up divisive issues at such events anyway.
9.9.2006 8:02pm
Jay Myers:

Dilan Esper: And the fact is, this kind of religious belief is ... not something to receive more specific protections than other beliefs


Perhaps not in that green and pleasant land across the Atlantic, but over here we have "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Thank goodness we didn't listen to those naive souls who didn't think an explicit listing of rights was necessary because no government of the people could ever possibly seek to exercise tyranny.

Now all we have to deal with is Justice Scalia's incomprehensible assertion that the enumerated rights represent some sort of "bare minimum" and that unenumerated rights are inferior and can be ignored by the State in exigent circumstances such as the war on terror. Perhaps he thinks the founders changed their minds about a right of travel between states, which is enumerated in the Articles of Confederation but unenumerated in the Constitution?
9.9.2006 8:13pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
'Just' or 'Walk It' (or whoever he is now) should not be allowed to get away with the suggestion that only a few evangelical groups consider homosexual acts sinful. The Catholic Church does, too, and Catholics are by far the largest Christian denomination. I have the impression that the Orthodox churches are equally 'anti-gay', though others will know more about that. The fact is that up until well into the last century just about every Christian sect taught that homosexual acts were wrong, and many still do. Something taught for 1900+ years by a religion that is only 1973 years old certainly counts as 'traditional', and it's absurd to deny it.

Of course, the Catholic church (among others) teaches that premarital, extramarital, and postmarital* sex are also wrong, as are masturbation and prostitution, among other things. Anyone want to argue that it should be illegal to protest those, too, e.g. picketing legal brothels in Nevada, or handing out leaflets at swingers' parties or wankers' parades?

- - - - - - - - - -

*I mean sex for widows and widowers who haven't remarried. What did you think I meant?
9.9.2006 9:39pm
godfodder (mail):
This thread is a bit long in the tooth, but... what the heck!

Regardless of where you stand on the topic of homosexuality, the behavior of the police and legislature in Great Britian should disturb you. These trends of limiting free speech, and creating "protected" groups that are legally shielded from criticism, is one that is very much alive on this side of the pond.

Why do the fans of this sort of stuff fail to see that this sword can (and will) cut both ways? My reaction to this incident has zero, zip, nada to do with homosexuality, per say. What is objectionable is the criminalization of one side of what is essentially a political disagreement. The opinion that homosexuality is morally, um, suspicious is not obscure, or particularly unpopular. In fact, it may well be the most commonly held opinion on the subject. You may hold strong beliefs one way or the other, but where did the notion come from that the proper way to settle this evolving debate was to criminalize one side's arguments?

Disapproving of homosexuality is not an incitement to criminal behavior, or akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded movie house. Everyone is perfectly free to consider the arguments on both sides, and to come to their own conclusions. Why is that troubling in the least?
9.10.2006 12:22am
Riskable (mail) (www):
This thread has gone on far too long, but I just want to reply to one comment. "Appellate Attorney" said:

"Even atheism is a religious position, albeit a negative one"

Atheism is a lack of a belief that there is a god or gods. Quite simple really; non-theism. There's nothing inherently negative or positive about it. By default it is a neutral and personal position. Especially significant is that atheism in itself has nothing to do with political positions, morality, or law.

There's atheist Republicans, Democrats, Greens, law professors (*caugh*), conservatives, liberals, centrists, school teachers, business men, educated, uneducated, and even atheist theologians. You cannot assume, based on the fact that someone is an atheist, that they believe in anything one way or another with the exception that they do not believe that there is a god (or gods).

We're all born atheists. Theism is a learned behavior.

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
9.10.2006 12:27am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Actually, riskable, do a google search on "god gene" and I'm sure you'll find a few theories that contradict your assertion that "we're all born atheists."

And atheism is a religion to the extent that it is a metaphysical belief system that denies the existance of "God." A neutral position would be agnosticism.
9.10.2006 1:30am
James of England:
Riskable, perhaps you're getting Atheism and Agnosticism confused. Atheists posit, at a minimum, that there is no god. Most Atheists make even more positive statements about the world. Almost all atheists, for instance, believe that the world exists (as per the statement to Bertrand Russel "I'm a solipsist. And quite frankly I'm surprised there aren't more of us.")

Many atheists have beliefs about creation, almost all have undeconstructable beliefs about morality, and so on. Many more thoughtful atheists have whole belief systems. Satre's existentialism is one of the more reasonable projects based on the absense of God, although the non-cosmological elements of Nietszche make sense, too. If your thought stops at "there is no god" and makes no attempt at deciding, for instance, "is it good to be kind" and finding some king of underlying rationale to the thought, then there isn't much of a religion there. Still, in the same way as most professionals who think they aren't economists actually follow an outdated and unfavoured school of economics, it is likely that your subconscious will be smarter than you and will have formed at least a rudimentary cosmological and moral scheme.

It is possible that you are arguing semantics and are therefore not demonstrably incorrect, incidentally, if by "a religion" you mean something like a denomination. If the argument is that, like Unitarian Universalists, Atheists have little in common with each other and cannot rationally be grouped together, then... perhaps.
9.10.2006 9:02am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
This was guaranteed to go from an issue of free speech to queer theory and christianityphobia. Guaranteed.

The issue is that of free speech and the dynamic we see in Britain.

So far, though, the tool of restricting speech based on the presumed harm to the feelings of a group which is an accredited victim group based on its ability to make the 'crats uncomfortable by letter-writing, media-weeping, or violence has worked to the convenience of the liberals, which is why few liberals oppose it.

The tool is, however, indepdendent of its makers. Other groups, with whom liberals disagree, may--will, bet on it--figure out how to use the tool. And then, since the liberals have professed so much pious support and insisted they were viewpoint neutral(coughhorseshitcough) in their application of the tool, they'll have a hard time looking honest--harder than usual--when it turns around and bites them.

I go between awaiting the opportunity to gloat and discomfort at the prospect of a society so ordered. All I can say is, it wasn't my idea.
9.10.2006 10:24am
Houston Lawyer:
I really like the term homofascism as it is clearly a trend.
9.10.2006 10:15pm
Alec (www):
The inclusion of "traditional" Christianity in the article is not disquieting from any doctrinal standpoint. Rather, the implication is that this type of speech or behavior is somehow more deserving of protection than, say, pro-gay speech. In other words, the implication is that the homosexuals should just be lucky that they can even put on their little event, because it is just absurd that, as between the two, "traditional Christianity" is subject to regulation.

I think most people posting understand the principle involved, which is free speech. And obviously the outcome would be very different in the states, where the First Amendment governs (thankfully). But the situation does not change simply because the parties to the dispute command large numbers. On advocacy speech issues, "traditional" Christianity is equal to gay rights is equal to drug reform is equal to pedophilia is equal to racism is equal to pro-war is equal to any number of controversial positions. But do not imply that religious speech should enjoy some "extra" protection.

Homofascism. Please. For all of their attacks on Harvard, Yale and other PC (but notably PRIVATE institutions), I have yet to see the right take aim at the academic restrictions in place at Brigham Young, Bob Jones, or any other conservative academic establishment. Someone who tosses out a term like "homofascist" is simply advocating one side, and I do not see much respect for speech rights there.
9.10.2006 11:05pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
For all of their attacks on Harvard, Yale and other PC (but notably PRIVATE institutions), I have yet to see the right take aim at the academic restrictions in place at Brigham Young, Bob Jones, or any other conservative academic establishment.
Perhaps it's because these religious institutions don't pretend to be anything other than what they are, while Harvard and Yale claim to be interested in academic freedom, scientific inquiry, and the like?

If someone founded Michael Moore U., and announced that its mission was to teach people in accordance with the Chomskyite worldview, then the right would not take aim at this university for hypocrisy when it decided to censor anybody who deviated from a far left philosophy. (That's not to say that the right wouldn't criticize the substance of what the university taught, but the criticism wouldn't be based upon accusations of PCness.)
9.11.2006 2:04am
CLassically Liberal (mail) (www):
I fear the comments got very off track from the story. I don't believe we have enough information to know what happened. I've seen these "gentle" people in action on several continents and they are far from gentle. Often they intentionally try to upset people and then later run to the media, especially Christian media, talking about how low key and gentle they were and how they were viciously attacked. Over the years I have attended maybe 10 such gay events on four continents. About half the time I've seen these Christians show up and each time they attempt to attack people loudly and abrasively.

Now what is the proper response? It is hard to say. If one lone Klanner wanders into a Million Man March shouting racist remarks would it be inappropriate to remove him? If he is not removed and someone busts his chops or worse then will the police be attacked for not protecting him?

The strategy of extremists in such cases is always similar. They act in a confrontational way in the hopes of getting publicity for their extremist views. They figure it is a win-win situation for them. If people ignore them they get more vitriolic and offensive until they get a response and then they whine about how they are victims. Now if they are offended by gay people having social freedom (and they are) then don't go to the event. But if they don't go they don't get publicity. In this case the man was clearly seeking a confrontation. He refused a warning insisted on being charged with something. Why? Because he could then claim he is being persecuted.

By the way if gay activists showed up at a Christian event and went inside passing out literature against Jesus I can assure you they wouldn't be treated gently. But then they don't tend to do that. I won't say it never happened but it very rarely happens. Yet the fundamentalists show up regularly to create a confrontation in public at gay events.
9.11.2006 8:10am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

By the way if gay activists showed up at a Christian event and went inside passing out literature against Jesus I can assure you they wouldn't be treated gently.
So give us some examples. There's no shortage of homosexuals using the police to arrest people distributing anti-homosexuality literature.

Some of the remarks in this thread reveal the homofascist mentality at work. Bruce Wilder, in particular, shows his desire to suppress any idea that interferes with what increasingly is liberalism's Prime Directive--homosexuality.

One of the reasons that I have moved from libertarian to conservative is the increasing realization that a society that does anything more than simply tolerate homosexuality* becomes a society that doesn't tolerate values that conflict with it. The choice seems not to be tolerance of a variety of perspectives. Homosexuality (at least, in its dominant political form) insists on occupying the entire moral space of a society--and any values or beliefs that disapprove of it must be actively suppressed.

*Note: "tolerate" in the original sense of the word. In practice, by the 1980s, homosexuality, even where it was still unlawful, was generally tolerated in the U.S. Don't have sex in public parks or restrooms; don't make a point of having sex where the neighbors will see it; don't make a big noise about being gay--and no one will do anything about it. Homosexuals, because of their profound need for approval for something that many of them know is shameful and weird, raised the ante from tolerance to not just social acceptance, but legal mandates of acceptance.

Your choice: homosexuality, or a largely free society.
9.11.2006 2:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
By the way if gay activists showed up at a Christian event and went inside passing out literature against Jesus I can assure you they wouldn't be treated gently. But then they don't tend to do that. I won't say it never happened but it very rarely happens. Yet the fundamentalists show up regularly to create a confrontation in public at gay events.
Classically liberal: you're apparently unfamiliar with ACT Up! (Or was it Act UP!? I forget what their quirky formatting was.) You've described their behavior perfectly.
9.11.2006 2:34pm
TM Lutas (mail) (www):
It astonishes me to no end to read a thread this long and not to have even one mention made of the fact that the United Kingdom establishes Anglicanism as its state church as well as the fact that the entire Anglican communion is very much coming apart at the seams because american and canadian anglicans (episcopalians) have advanced the idea that there's nothing particularly wrong with a sexually active homosexual man serving as bishop.
9.11.2006 4:31pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
David, Act Up, Queer Nation and the like only show up at events that are homophobic in nature in my experience. The don't show up at a churches Sunday social, or their Easter prayer breakfasts. They do show up at ones that want to prevent gay married couples from having secular civil recognition, or ones that are focused on denigrating gay people in general.

Ignoring this meta discussion about religion and returning to the original situation - if the religious have a right to share their opinion with people at public gatherings, does that mean I should have the right to hand out tracts explaining a view that the religious are superstitious, immoral and ignorant? (actually have several such tracts given to me by an friend buried in some file). People have alluded that this arrest is similar to 'hate speech' restrictions at some college campuses - would it be ok to have an anti-superstition student group that actively and repeatedly stated their opinion in any possible media that the superstitions are immoral, despicable and unworthy of life as those against gays routinely do?
9.11.2006 4:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Bob van.

I think some activists, probably ACT-UP, desecrated a Catholic church in Canada in which nothing was happening.
Easier to get at the altar that way.
9.11.2006 4:52pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
David, Act Up, Queer Nation and the like only show up at events that are homophobic in nature in my experience. The don't show up at a churches Sunday social, or their Easter prayer breakfasts.
ACT UP (Googling shows me their formatting) showed up and disrupted Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral, not over gay marriage, but over Cardinal O'Connor's opposition to condoms. (For everyone, gay and straight.)

does that mean I should have the right to hand out tracts explaining a view that the religious are superstitious, immoral and ignorant? (actually have several such tracts given to me by an friend buried in some file).
Of course. Speech is speech. As long as you're non-violent, you should have the right to hand out whatever tracts you want.
People have alluded that this arrest is similar to 'hate speech' restrictions at some college campuses - would it be ok to have an anti-superstition student group that actively and repeatedly stated their opinion in any possible media that the superstitions are immoral, despicable and unworthy of life as those against gays routinely do?
Again, of course. (I think you've just described the tenets of the Campus Objectivists.) Although I've never seen any college student groups openly, repeatedly stating as their position that gays are "unworthy of life."
9.11.2006 4:53pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Although I've never seen any college student groups openly, repeatedly stating as their position that gays are "unworthy of life."
With the exception of the Rev. Fred Phelps (who, before being disbarred, was a liberal civil rights attorney), you would be hard pressed to find any Christian group arguing that gays are "unworthy of life." You will find a lot of Christians telling homosexuals that they don't have to stay in that lifestyle, that it is destructive, and there's help available to them to leave it, before it is too late.
9.11.2006 5:34pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):

Although I've never seen any college student groups openly, repeatedly stating as their position that gays are "unworthy of life."


Obviously every time they quote Leviticus they are saying just that. You are responsible for the opinions you profess even if they are by proxy.
9.11.2006 9:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Jeez, Bob. If anybody were likely to pay attention to you, they might remember the thing about responsibility for opinions you don't actually opine. And ask you a pointed question.

Best not go there. Who knows what you're responsible for you don't even know about?
9.11.2006 11:12pm
Maximilian Parsons (mail):
My, didn't we all get carried away.

It didn't seem to occur to anyone that a single policeman might, in the heat of a stressful situation, have over-reached himself. Before leaping to condemn the woeful state of freedom of speech in the UK, perhaps we should reserve judgement until judgement is passed. I'd imagine there is every possibility that the charge will be thrown out of court.
9.12.2006 2:07am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
"It didn't seem to occur to anyone that a single policeman might, in the heat of a stressful situation, have over-reached himself."

This isn't the first time that a British policeman has arrested someone for saying homosexuality is a bad thing.
9.12.2006 5:48pm