Well, no. Not yet, anyway.

The preachers, both ministers in Birmingham, were handing out leaflets on Alum Rock Road in February when they started talking to four Asian youths.

A police community support officer (PCSO) interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs.

They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…

“He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station.”…

West Midlands Police, who refused to apologise, said the incident had been “fully investigated” and the officer would be given training in understanding hate crime and communication.

Funny how British cops keep “misunderstanding” hate crimes laws. I have some legal training myself and after reading this story from April, I’d say the cop here has a pretty firm handle on where the law is headed. Spend some time with that last link and see how far down the road they already are. In America, as far as I know, hate crimes constitutionally can only be charged in connection with another criminal offense. You can’t be charged with hate; you can be charged with assault and have your sentence enhanced if they prove the assault was motivated by hate. Thoughtcrime + actual crime = hate crime, in other words. In the U.K., it sounds like they’re flirting with knocking out that pesky “actual crime” element and just going the whole nine Orwellian yards.

Exit quotation, per the cop: “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned.” They’re being silenced for their own safety, you see, and if that “logic” sounds distressingly familiar, well, it should. (Bonus nuance: As longtime HA readers know, the cop’s worries about this sort of thing being especially unwelcome in Birmingham are not necessarily unfounded.)

Tags: Islam religion