The ‘elation’ expressed by an elderly Lancashire Christian couple at the out-of-court settlement which netted them £10,000 for a piece of local council and police ‘politically correct’ absurdity is understandable but unseemly. The couple had protested to the council that, as Christians, they considered homosexual practices to be morally wrong, and that they should be allowed to display Christian literature expressing this point of view alongside gay rights leaflets on council premises.
As a result of a telephone conversation on this subject the council informed the police, who sent two officers to interview the couple for more than an hour to ascertain whether they had infringed non-discrimination legislation.
The couple rightly described the settlement – which will unfortunately place a substantial slab of public money in the hands of an anti-gay Christian charity to which they are donating it – as a victory for civil liberties and common sense, which on this occasion at least was on the side of the Christians. I entirely agree with them. As someone with a track record of campaigning for gay rights, since the days before that term was invented, I abhor and deplore the excesses of the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade.
The notion that you can change peoples’ opinions for the better, and eradicate their prejudices, by making it illegal for them to express their honest views, however bigoted, strikes me as absurd. When campaigning in the 1960s for the enactment of the Wolfenden proposals to liberalise the homosexual laws, we were inundated with the grossest abuse, which in those days we took as being par for the course. Although the Honorary Committee of the Homosexual Law Reform Society was graced with the names of both Anglican Archbishops, many other senior clergy of other denominations, and about 100 other men and women distinguished in their various walks of life, this did not prevent the extreme homophobes from cascading not merely verbal abuse, but on occasions more unsavoury items, upon us. Lord Arran, who led the campaign in the House of Lords, was once told by his stalwart secretary that an anonymous package containing human excrement had arrived through the post. “What did you do with it?” he asked. “I threw it away”, she replied; “it wouldn’t keep.” At the HLRS offices green-pen type letters frequently arrived. I remember one which poured out pages and pages of the vilest hate-filled language and concluded, splendidly, “I would sign my name to this letter, but people like us have to be protected from people like you.” And there was the implacable elderly placard bearer who paraded
Although sad people such as this may be less numerous and less vocal nowadays, they still exist and are not going to go away because the mealy-mouthed niminy-piminy advocates of ‘political correctness’ make their utterances illegal. The same is true of religious or anti-religious bigots, and racists. Shutting them up concentrates the poison and causes it to fester. Censorship isn’t the answer. Evangelical Christians should have as much right to display their leaflets alongside gay rights ones on council premises as they should have to display them alongside Islamic literature in mosques, and vice-versa.
‘True Followers’ of Christ, Mohammed, and any other gods, sacred or secular, KNOW that they are right: it never occurs to them otherwise. Cromwell’s exhortation to the
On a lighter note, once during a North Sea crossing from
And a Merry Christmas to one and all.