Newest crime in Britain: Leafletting

In Britain, five Muslim men from the East Midlands city of Derby have been put on trial for the composition and distribution of leaflets. The literature — entitled “The Death Penalty?” — contends that gay sex is a sin that leads its practitioners directly to hell; it also calls for homosexuals to be given the death penalty and features on its front side a picture of a mannequin hanging from a noose. The prosecution is the first under a new “hate crime” law passed in March 2010 that makes it illegal to “stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

In court, prosecution lawyer Bobbie Cheema told a jury comprising seven men and five women that the leaflets were “threatening, offensive, frightening, and nasty.” She is right; they are exactly that. But one has to ask the question: So what? “Offensive” they may be, “nasty” too, but there is a world of difference between material that is repugnant and upsets people — an inherently subjective designation — and acts that are physically harmful, and to which one can apply a proper legal objectivity. Note that the men are not being prosecuted for inciting violence; the leaflets call for the death penalty, not for vigilante attacks…

It is high time that the British people took a giant leap away from their paternalistic past and landed squarely and maturely on their own feet. A government that refuses to censor the insane or the rude or the bigoted is not a government that endorses its miscreants, but one that endorses reason and protects liberty, even when its outcomes are unpleasant. To protect the rights of the undesirable is to protect the rights of all. So, speak up Britain, speak up in the language you gave the world, and demand the right to use all of it whenever and wherever you damn well please.

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