Free speech victory

Sometimes, i think i just LOVE Peter.

That’s Tatchell to the rest of you plebs! But it would never work. I wasn’t gay then: i’m not exactly hetero now…and the prognosis for any sort of relationship between gay male and trans woman is probably poor.

But he DID shake my hand last year. [swoon!]

I digress. This is the serious political blog: but what’s the point in good news, if a girl isn’t allowed a little light-heartedness in response. So.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped all charges against allegedly homophobic Christian street preacher, Dale McAlpine. This followed an offer from gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to testify in defence of his right to free speech.

Mr McAlpine, 42, was arrested in a street in Workington on 20 April, after condemning homosexuality as a sin. He was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, contrary to the Public Order Act 1986.

The homophobic tag was added because, well, because the subject of his rant was homosexuality. Commenting on the case, Peter Tatchell got it in one:

“Although I disagree with Dale McAlpine and support protests against his homophobic views, he should not have been arrested and charged. Criminalisation is a step too far.

“Despite my opposition to his opinions, I defend his right to freedom of expression.”

He added: “Freedom of speech means accepting the right of other people to say things that we may find disagreeable and even offensive. Unless people make untrue libellous comments or incite violence, they should not be criminalised for expressing their opinions.”

That about sums it up – although a direct plea, by Peter, to our new Home Secretary, Theresa May, could also have been influential.

Thank heavens for that. The one place where i find myself falling out with the standard-bearers for LGBT political correctness is when they back measures that restrict our freedom of expression. For two reasons, really.

First, because such restriction rarely achieves the result that it sets out to achieve – frequently bringing on a backlash that is quite the opposite to what was intended.

Second, because it is plain wrong. It involves selling out absolutely on a fundamental principle – that words should be free – and that the best way to counter odious sentiment is by engaging with it and defeating it. Too, the chief danger of selling out principles is what happens when there is a change in political climate.

If you’ve agreed that free expression may be limited when a set of words offends you, you have very little scope for arguing the opposite when a reactionary government comes to power – and decides that YOUR words are also offensive.

This was a good result: and doubly so, because at least one individual, who is unlikely ever to be accused of selling out the Gay cause, was central to getting it.

jane

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About janefae

On my way from here to there
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