What’s Wrong with the World

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Useful idiots

No doubt my readers have already read this story (see also here). An American street preacher was fined 1,000 pounds in Scotland for saying, in response to an obvious set-up, that homosexuals "risk the wrath of God unless they accept Christ." His conviction was, specifically, for "uttering homophobic remarks" which were "aggravated by religious prejudice." In other words, the fact that his remarks were based on his religious beliefs was apparently treated as an additional, aggravating factor justifying his arrest and fine.

What particularly struck me in the story was the reaction of a spokesman for the Catholic Church:

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Glasgow told the Scotsman, “We supported [hate crime] legislation but it is very difficult to see how this man can be charged for expressing a religious conviction.

“The facts of this case show his statement was clearly his religious belief. Yes, it is strong language he has used, but it is obviously a religious conviction and not a form of discrimination.”

Do you get that? Neither do I. They supported hate-speech legislation (and even, says the Scotsman article, increased penalties for so-called anti-gay "hate crimes") but don't want him to be charged for "expressing a religious conviction." And they think they can make some kind of distinction between what he said and "a form of discrimination." Say, what?

I'll be a monkey's uncle if there weren't people warning and informing Catholic leaders in Scotland of exactly what hate-speech legislation means. Sounds like they didn't listen. Thanks a lot, gentlemen.

Similar story about worse-than-wimpy Catholic leaders encouraging the suppression of Christianity here.

Comments (21)

Lydia, forgive me if I am mistaken, but I thought we were both citizens and residents of the United States. If so we are "here" and Quebec is "there". Canada is a nation with a good health care system that has gone batty on political correctness and lacks the basic constitutional protections which we have "here". My understanding is that Quebec especially is off the wall on this sort of thing.

The UK shows the disadvantages of an unwritten constitution in which basic civil liberties can be abrogated at the whim of Parliament.

I would simply give up expecting any sense out of Catholic Bishops anywhere. After all here they allowed themselves to be conned with a phony issue into an alliance with the religious right to oppose the universal health care the Church supports as a basic human right.

I wonder if protestant leaders in the UK conducted themselves any more bravely or honestly than the Catholics in the face of this encroaching tyranny.

You will _not_ turn this thread into, of all things, a discussion of healthcare, Al.

My use of "we" in title of the post on Quebec concerned the casual assumptions of the curriculum I was discussing--namely, that a kind of specious neutralism regarding religions and morality is the default position of all enlightened individuals and must be taught to all children, even against their parents' wishes, as an essential part of their education.

al - you speak of "basic constitutional protections" in a political order where the "commerce clause" has become what it has become?

In such a political order, there is *no* real "constitutional" protection against anything whatsoever.

We all just flap in the breeze of jurisprudential fashion.

"“When asked directly about homosexuality, I told them homosexuals risked the wrath of God unless they accepted Christ.”"

The funny thing is that from a Christian perspective this does not even express any particular condemnation of homosexuality. I mean, non-squishy Christians also believe emergency room nurses and astrolabe designers risk the wrath of God unless they accept Christ.

Adam Greenwood - precisely so.

Yes, I think it sounds like he was actually choosing his words rather carefully so as to say precisely what he thought rather than making some sweeping pronouncement. Not that that helps.

Steve, I agree with you. Al and I have been 'round the barn a bit on that before, concerning Al's faith that our present constitutional jurisprudence will protect us from anything objectionable. What emerged, as I recall, is that his idea of what is objectionable differs rather widely from mine. He would more or less go back and forth between, "Don't worry, we have the First Amendment," and "Don't like that judicial outcome in that case? Hey, it looks like it was completely legally legit according to present constitutional jurisprudence and the written law in question, so how can you argue with it?"

Do you get that? Neither do I. They supported hate-speech legislation (and even, says the Scotsman article, increased penalties for so-called anti-gay "hate crimes") but don't want him to be charged for "expressing a religious conviction." And they think they can make some kind of distinction between what he said and "a form of discrimination." Say, what?

I don't know what to say. I am embarrassed that the spokesman that they would equivocate, so, especially since Adam Greenwood is correct, to an extent. There can be more than one reason to risk the wrath of God.

For the record, I do not think that all discrimination is a bad thing.

The Chicken

For the record, I do not think that all discrimination is a bad thing.

...but poor proof-reading is!. What do you expect. It's I, you know...

The Chicken

P. S. My editorial skills are quite good, really. If only I didn't have that pesky backspace key and cut-and-paste option on my computer. You should have seen me in the day when typewriters ruled the Internet :-)

Yeah, that was my point, about discrimination. The truth is that we _have_ to get away from that idea that "discrimination" is a dirty word. _Of course_ if one says that (for example) X is a sin, one is in some sense discriminating between those who do X and those who don't, especially those who continually do X and are proud of it. One just has to be, well, a fool to say, "Oh, this is just a law against discrimination? No problem, sign me up."

But people do think that. I had conversations on the street last summer when working on some local political issues with people who solemnly assured me that the Constitution bans all discrimination.

For the record, I do not think that all discrimination is a bad thing.

That's an understatement. Depending on the situation, it could be a necessary thing.

For instance, calling out to a feline "here Kitty, Kitty" in the Sub Sahara would be a very dangerous thing.

But people do think that. I had conversations on the street last summer when working on some local political issues with people who solemnly assured me that the Constitution bans all discrimination.

I suggest that these sorts of people have no concept of what the Cross was all about. They fail to see that love sometimes requires discrimination. What good parent would fail to see that, especially in helping their child to grow in an upright fashion? "Oh, Johnny's just going through a phase with his huffing. He'll grow out of it. Can't say its bad. That would be discrimination."

Man, indoctrination...gatta love it (or maybe not).

The Chicken

Resolved: people who are afraid to discriminate are afraid to fight for their country (or for anybody).

Pro or Con?

The thing is, Chicken, that their moral sensibilities have been co-opted to the point where they think they are being brave and dutiful by never discriminating--or at least, never discriminating against the chosen victim groups of the left. So what is hammered into their heads is that there is no such thing as bravery and nobleness in not being _afraid_ to discriminate. Rather, discrimination is just _evil_ so one must never do it.

Since it's impossible _not_ to have a set of values and preferences, there will always be distinctions made, as there have to be. The incredibly successful ploy of the left has been to get their own set of highly dogmatic and tendentious preferences enshrined, laughably enough, as intra-group neutrality. The conservatives now come along and say, "Hey! But you're discriminating against _our_ religious beliefs in that case. What happened to non-discrimination?"

And then everybody laughs at them.

This is true. You should have seen the funny looks I got when fighting a local "homosexual rights" ordinance, when I suggested that the ordinance ignored the freedom of business owners not to hire people who openly and deliberately flouted the values the business owners wished to promote. The response was total non-comprehension. Blank stares. Sometimes extreme hostility from people who did understand what I was saying. But people literally could not cognize the idea that someone who wished to do what had been labeled as "discrimination" could himself have legitimate claims to freedom in this area.

So (I know I've told this story before), our side put up would-be-clever yard signs that said, "No Discrimination" and that told people to vote no on the ordinance. And the ordinance won handily at the polls. Would that have happened if we hadn't tried to co-opt the anti-discrimination language (which, if nothing else, doubtless confused some voters)? I don't know. But boy, was it a dumb thing to do.

Is it a sin to discriminate?

The self-appointed council of US bishops served as equally useful idiots by getting involved in the whole Pelosi-Obama health care take over.

I'm confused; the RCC supported hate crime laws, but did it support hate speech laws? Are these one and the same in Scotland?

Good question, Matt. The Scotsman was not clear on this, nor was any of the other reporting I could find, but the statement by the spokesman implies, at the very least, a close connection between the two. I am assuming that they are the same in Scotland, based on the fact that generally in Europe and Canada it is not required (as it is in the U.S.) that there be an underlying, independent crime before a "hate crime" can be alleged. In other words, wrongthought and wrongspeech are usually penalized directly and in themselves in other countries.

Dear Steve, the mainstream of British protestantism seems to be more left wing than much of British Catholicism, which is saying a great deal.

Dear Lydia, for what it's worth, I see the elevation of non-discrimination to a cardinal virtue as the result of the West's tendency towards nominalism. In societies where realism is strong with respect to things like natures, discrimination is a virtue. It wasn't so long ago when to say 'He's a discriminating man' or 'She's a woman of discriminating tastes' was to offer someone a compliment. Obviously, this is because discriminating judgements are seen as tracking real differences in the world - it's a matter of knowing the difference between P and -P, human and non-human, beautiful and ugly, etc. But in a nominalistic society such as ours, where value judgements and natures are taken to be subjective projections of a socially contingent and pragmatic nature (what was all that Hume said about gilding the world with our ideas!), discriminating judgements are seen as a vice.

For this reason, I think, people now think it's the hight of sophistication to be 'against discrimination', as only the uneducated and unscientific would mistake moral judgements for objective judgements. But why people never see the problem which you mention with regards to left-wing 'neutrality' beats me.

I think what many of us call relativism is habitual non-discrimination, an absolute in a relativistic mask.

The Catholic Catechism condemns "unjust discrimination" against homosexuals, a usefully broad and discriminating (heh) concept. I used the phrase at my precinct caucus when proposing a resolution against overbroad non-discrimination laws, and it really appealed to people.

Yeah, but what _is_ "unjust discrimination"? You'll forgive me if I wish they hadn't used any such phrase, though I can imagine that you did a good job of using it to good purpose. But you have to admit that it's given aid and comfort to this kind of nonsense. After all, even "discrimination" in housing can be given a pretty good argument: You have a couple that is living in flagrant sin against the moral law, and you as a property owner are being asked to rent them your property on which to do it. And yes, I do apply this to a guy living with his girlfriend as well.

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