A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BNP Koran burner gets arrested - Florida preacher goes free!

Fiery Fury from a Foolish Man
A tale of two countries. In Wales and no doubt the rest of the United Kingdom, Koran burning is seen as a criminal offence. I'm not sure it should be. What I do know is that it is offensive as much as burning the Bible is. I have a guess that South Wales Police would not get out of bed on a Sunday morning for a Bible burning incident. Most Christians would be highly embarrassed to be seen publicly venting fury at such a display. Sadness, yes. Much else, no.

A BNP candidate for next month's Welsh assembly elections has been charged with a public order offence, after police were passed a video appearing to show him burning a copy of the Koran.

What a different story it is in Florida. Pastor Terry Jones has a "service" for Koran burning. Most of America is revulsed but stay rooted to the spot as the constitution is on the pastor's side. So no arrests as no offence is caused (in that sense).

Freedom of speech meets political correctness? In a way, I think. Both sides take an uncompromising view. In Britain you are free to speak your mind only if that mind finds favour with the majority. In the USA the majority has to sit back and take every insult because they are told the constitution holds that the state has no place in deliberating or curtailing a citizen's freedom of speech.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." When it came to the Florida pastor, Congrees knew there was a "clear and present danger" and lo and behold United Nations workers get beheaded. I believe in freedom of speech but not to the extent that danger may be created. But neither do I believe that the police should be the instruments of a politically incorrect moral high ground that ursurps freedom of speech.


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