Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Sound of Silence

From Catholic World News
Swedish minister jailed for "anti-gay" speech
Stockholm, Sweden, Jul. 06 ( - The Rev. Ake Green, the pastor of a Swedish Pentecostal church in Kalmar, Sweden, has been sentenced to one month in prison for inciting hatred against homosexuals. Green was prosecuted in January for "hate speech against homosexuals" for a sermon he preached last summer citing Biblical references to homosexuality.

Sweden has a "hate crimes" law that forbids criticism of homosexuality. According to the church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning , the prosecutor in the case, Kjell Yngvesson, justifies the arrest of Green: "One may have whatever religion one wishes, but this is an attack on all fronts against homosexuals. Collecting Bible citations on this topic as he (Green) does makes this hate speech."

Ok, this is going too far. You can't call all anti-gay rhetoric "hate speech." I know America would never pass a law this crazy (forbiding any type of criticism of an idea - although Bush has come close about criticism of his presidency in the Patriot Acts), but it gets to a problem that we experience here also. We can't shut off all negative speech.

Do I want to make it socially frowned upon to be negative towards gays, just as now it is to degrade blacks? Yes. But I want that change to come about because people think we're ok, that we are a welcome part of society. Enacting laws or going after everyone who makes a stupid remark is not the way to accomplish this.

I'm glad for media watchdogs like GLAAD, and they and others have done some truly good work, but I don't always agree with the relentless hounding they do, such as with Dr. Laura. Yes, she is an idiot; yes she said stupid, ignorant, hateful things, but is it necessary to financially ruin her because she's a bigot? Are we using tactics that the religious right would use on us?

Do we have to become the people who want to silence us and put us down? Is it necessary to meet equal parts force with equal parts force? I would suggest that this leads only not just to a cold war, but a cold world for all to live.

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