Monday, 7 March 2011

AN INTERESTING ARTICLE FOR YOUR PERUSAL FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES

Follows, an article that I found interesting in the Sunday Times and as I know that most of you don't subscribe, (£1 for 30 days then cancel DD),  for various reasons, I've printed it in full!

 

Andrew Sullivan: Glad to be in the land of the odious bigot

A ‘church’ that mocks dead US troops must be given its voice — just don’t listen to the vitriolic and offensive nonsense it is spitting out

The Sunday Times
Published: 6 March 2011

Andrew Sullivan ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones ... but words will never hurt me.” We all know this untruth from our school days — the psychological flak jacket many of us wore against bullies. Words do harm; they hurt and wound.
And that is their power and, sometimes, their point.
Few are probably more aware of that this week than John Galliano, whose drunken rants about Jews and his professed if slurred love for Hitler have instantly destroyed his career and sent him to rehab.
The same might be said of the actor Charlie Sheen, whose drug-fuelled discourses on call-in radio shows led to the sudden suspension of one of the most profitable sitcoms on American television.
Mel Gibson will likewise never recover his reputation after his bizarre and inebriated claim that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world, and his cinematic orgy of anti-Semitic tropes in The Passion of the Christ.
None of them, however, comes close in sheer vileness to the stone-cold-sober antics of a splinter “Christian” group in the US, Westboro Baptist Church. Publicity-seeking bigots, convinced of the moral degeneracy of America and therefore of its military, they have achieved fame in America the easy way by picketing military funerals with placards that read: “Thank God for dead soldiers.”
The church is a deranged group, largely consisting of the family members of Fred Phelps, who travel round the country with signs and posters that evoke every possible bigoted stance, but seem especially focused on homosexuality. It can all blur together after a while. When picketing the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Phelps declared: “God has smitten Jews with a certain unique madness ... Jews, thus perverted, out of all proportion to their numbers energise the militant sodomite agenda ... Jews are the real Nazis.”
I hope you followed that logic. Their most common placard is one that reads, simply: “God hates fags.” No, not cigarettes. While picketing the funeral of Daniel Sesker, an army sergeant, in Iowa, Phelps’s website asked: “Where in God’s name did he get the idea that it was noble to fight in a fag army for a fag nation that’s on the short path to eternal destruction? That’s right: his parents, his family, his ‘friends’, his state and his country; they are to blame for the fact that Sesker is now in a million pieces, the appropriate punishment for their filthy manner of life.”
Yes, he said this as the soldier’s family was in acute grief. And words cannot wound?
There is a difference between what happened to John Galliano and what has happened to Fred Phelps. Galliano is now facing trial for his racist remarks But there is a difference between what happened to John Galliano and what has happened to Fred Phelps. Galliano is now facing trial for his racist remarks, and could face a prison term of up to six months and a fine of €22,500 (£19,300). Phelps, in stark contrast, has just won a lawsuit against him by the father of a dead marine whose funeral was picketed.
Not only did Phelps win after the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court; he won his case by a crushing majority of 8-1. In Europe publicly declaring that “God hates fags” may be a criminal offence. In America it is a legally inviolable act of free speech.
It is hard for me to express adequately my contempt for Phelps and his deranged inhumanity. But I am glad, in this instance, that I live in America and not Europe.
The first amendment protects free speech specifically in those cases where the speech itself is abhorrent. Phelps’s church, moreover, engaged in no physical violence. Its members were kept a distance from the actual funeral by the police.
And although it is hard to describe their placards as an argument as such, the chief justice, John Roberts, ruled that “while these messages may fall short of refined social or political commentary ... the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our nation, homosexuality in the military ... are matters of public import”.
So the right to express one’s views about such subjects in public is not restricted to the eloquent or the righteous. In fact, it is precisely when the speech is this odious and clumsy that it takes a Supreme Court to protect it.
The freedom of a drag queen to march down a street in a gay pride parade is, to my mind, indistinguishable from the freedom of a bigot to hold up a sign that says: “God hates fags.” The whole point of a free country, in other words, is to allow all such speech to flourish, even if someone is hurt, stigmatised, wounded or offended. The line is drawn at violence or the direct instigation of violence.
If you want to see its polar, pious opposite, visit Pakistan, where public figures are being assassinated for wanting to amend the country’s blasphemy laws, and blasphemers themselves are instantly criminals. We like to think of the West as free from such coercion, but Phelps’s group was barred from entering Britain two years ago by the Home Office on the grounds that it “engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities”. The ban was backed not only by gay groups but also by mainstream churches.
So, someone’s free speech in Britain was curtailed not because he was a blasphemer against Christianity — that is now quite fashionable — but because he blasphemed against the modern orthodoxy of multiculturalism.
This is the trap you face. And once you start criminalising such speech, you risk also criminalising the religious doctrines that, however debatable, support them. Indeed, in Britain, only last year, a Baptist preacher in Workington, Cumbria, was arrested for preaching against homosexuality in public, under the Public Order Act. Mercifully, charges were later dropped. That he was arrested at all is a sign of how liberty, once infringed, can soon disappear.
To my mind, that is throwing a crucial principle away. Let the bigots lose their jobs if they embarrass their employers, let them lose their reputations, shame them, ostracise them, condemn them, point out their errors. But as far as the law is concerned, leave them alone.

23 comments:

banned said...

Let the law do as it pleases but I gather that Anonymous has taken down the websites of Westboro Baptist Church and its affiliayes with DOS attacks.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Well that's censorship and I don't agree with that. Let people discuss and argue about the particular merits or otherwise of an idea and if it's a bad one it will wither and did.

Gordo said...

Why is Galliano being prosecuted? I thought they still had free speech in America!

Billy said...

Let us not forget that the laws of Blasphemy were brought in to stop Pagans from revealing the truth about Chritianity being a big dishonest con - an exact copy of the ancient Pagan religions from thousands of years BC so the likes of Christianity cannot cry out when they are challenged about their stolen ancient primitive views.

Francis Urquhart said...

Clearly the US is not, after all, the land of the free. Censorship is abhorrent to me. All citizens of our country should feel free to speak their minds and to agree with me whenever they like.

We are a Christian country, and all the better for it. Blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder.

Billy said...

Francis Urquhart

"We are a Christian country, and all the better for it. Blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder."

Tell that to the millions of people murdered by the Christians for telling the truth about the Christians ripping off ancient myths and passing them off as their own and as being true.

How can we be a Christian country when hardly anyone goes to church?

Down in the smoke said...

Most of the Christians down my way are from Africa.
And they don't seem to go a bundle on shirtlifting Vicars.

Budvar said...

Billy, you're talking absolute bollox. Christianity hasn't murdered millions. OK people have used Christianity for their own ends, but that is like saying politics is a bad thing because Adolf, Uncle Joe, Mao, Polpot, Idi amin etc etc murdered 100s of millions between them during the last century, non of whom were Christian nominally or otherwise btw.

We're a nominally Christian country, and much as local councils wish otherwise our national holidays are not divali, ramadan or hallow fucking ween.

Church attendance on a Sunday or lack thereof has little bearing as to a countries religious beliefs, and when it comes to hatches, matches and dispatches a large proportion of the population vote with their feet.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Gordo, I think he said it in Paris, although I may be wrong and they have quite strict laws about that there seeing as how the Vichy French sent some Jews to concentration camps.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, yes a very clever trick by the early Christians. That book you recommended is interesting but very heavy reading!

Dark Lochnagar said...

Frankie, I don't believe in censorship either and our society is now ruled by the PC mob, who make it an offence to be allowed to think and express those thoughts.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, you have a point there and as you know I don't agree at all with the religious creed. As a 'Christian' country though that to me also means that we have a culture which is ours and traditions and customs that we follow. It doesn't have to mean that we all practise Christianity.

Budvar said...

Westboro baptists are basically a set of cunts, not a lot more needs to be said.

People don't slag of islam like they do Christianity as the local imam has 200 of the fuckers rioting and throwing petrol bombs at the local police station.

Christianity has this pacifist simpering vicar image where we turn the other cheek.

Me personally, I like my sermons old time eye for an eye. Strike me on my left cheek and I offer my right just before I boot your bollox right up to the roof of your mouth.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Smokers, I am aghast. Shirt lifting vicars, whatever next. I was having a conversation tonight with my wife's friend and her partner who are Catholic and the tales they were telling me about paedophile priests was horrific.

Down in the smoke said...

My late partner was raised under the tender care of the Sisters of Mercy.
Rule no 1 in religion is get a catchy name.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Budders, the Christian religion and spcifically the Catholic religion HAS murdered millions over the centuries whether it be in witch burnings or in S. America by the Jesuits or countless other instances.

I do however take your point about a 'Christian' country having certain values that pertain to a country with Christian customs and manners. In other words, we don't normally start murdering our neighbours with machetes. But, is that because the British people have been subdued to the point that we take any shite handed out to us by Politicians and our 'rulers'? I don't know?

Budvar said...

OK DL care to point out which part of Christian doctrine has a bit about buggering small boys or the likes of Pizarro and Cortez escapades in S.America being compulsory?

As I said before, there have been people who used "Christianity" to justify their actions, but how come only Christianity is singled out to be tarred with the same brush, but if say all gays are given a hard time over the actions of Nielson the shirtlifting, necrophiliac, mass murderer, the great and the good would be after sending me down for a long stretch in the pokie using hate crime legislation?

As I said earlier, Christianity has been taken over by simpering vicars and cheek turners.

Billy said...

Budvar - Christianity is a false religion just like the rest of them. It is a collection of rip-offs of the Pagan SUN God myths. There are no such things as Christian values - they have been stolen from Egypt, India etc.

All of Christianity has been ripped off and the Pagans, a Christian word for people who did not follow their ripped off religion, knew that Christianity was a rip-off of everything else. The pagans were forced to convert to Christianity and those who didn't were murdered in their millions by Christianity, not individuals within it - It was Christian policy.

Billy said...

DL - I thought that book was easy going that is why I recommended it first - Christ in Egypt is heavy reading but worth it Suns of God is quite easy reading as well and all these books do an excellent job of showing where Christianity, with sources, ripped off the Jesus myth and Bible stories.

They are books for people who want to learn and to show people that all the evidence is out there for the rip-offs and that there is absolutely no evidence for Christianity.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Budvers, I make a point about never arguing about religion. All religions have killed and massacred over the centuries whether it be in the 'crusades against the moors' or elsewhere. Faith is personal, but religion is a business, particularly the Christian Catholic religion. My MiL dies last night after my FiL dying 7 weeks ago and I am in the process of arranging things as I write this. They were both Catholic and already I can hear the sound of the priest rubbing his hands at more dosh for the church, £150 to lie in the church the night before, his envelope with what he got the last time which was £100 etc. Well, he's in for a shock because this time we are paying for it not my MiL and I won't be getting ripped off.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, no 'The Christ Conspiracy' is an interesting book I just feel she is labouring the point a wee bit and quoting too many other sources. If I was writing it with her I would be saying, "OK, you made your point about Christ not existing, can we move on"?

Billy said...

Ah but she has got to quote the other sources otherwise people will say that it is her opinion when in fact her evidence is based on the historical record and archaeology. The entire point of her books is evidence and she provides that in spades to counteract the lies of religion especially Christianity. In the end up you realise the need to quote all these sources.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Billy, she certainly as you say produces evidence in spades. It's actually a well researched book, although obviously written by an academic and none the less informative for that.