If you live pretty much anywhere in the Western world these days, you'll notice a certain kind of news item cropping up with quiet regularity. The Irish Times had one last week.
As Liam Reid reported, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has warned Catholic bishops that distributing the Vatican's latest statement on homosexuality could lead to prosecution under the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act, and a six-month jail term.
"The document itself may not violate the Act, but if you were to use the document to say that gays are evil, it is likely to give rise to hatred, which is against the Act," says Aisling Reidy, director of the ICCL. "The wording is very strong and certainly goes against the spirit of the legislation."
No Irish bishop has actually called gays evil yet. But best to be on the safe side and shut down all debate.
From Dublin, let us zip 6,000 miles to Quesnel, a small paper-mill town in British Columbia. Chris Kempling is a high-school teacher and a Christian conservative and he likes writing letters to his local newspaper. In one of them he said that "homosexuality is not something to be applauded."
The regulatory body for his profession, the British Columbia College of Teachers, suspended him for a month without pay for "conduct unbecoming a member of the college."
No student, parent or fellow teacher at Correlieu Secondary School has ever complained about Mr. Kempling: he was punished by the BCCT for expressing an opinion in the paper. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association supported the suspension, not because of anything he's done but because of what he might do in the future. He might discriminate against gay and lesbian students in the future. He hasn't done so yet, but, if we don't preemptively punish him now, he might well commit a hate crime somewhere down the road.
He didn't say gays are evil. But he did say homosexuality wasn't something to be applauded. And, if we start letting people decide who they are and aren't going to applaud, there's no telling where it will end. As in Dublin, best to be on the safe side and shut down all debate.
In Sweden, meanwhile, they've passed a constitutional amendment making criticism of homosexuality a crime, punishable by up to four years in jail. Expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church. Those preachers may not be talking about how gays are evil this Sunday. But they might do next week, or next month. As in Ireland and British Columbia, best to be on the safe side and shut down all debate.
Anyone sense a trend here? Even in America, where the First Amendment (on freedom of expression) still just about trumps "hate crimes" law, you can see where things are headed.
A FEW weeks back, the Senate Judiciary Committee interrogated William Pryor, attorney-general of Alabama and President George W. Bush's nominee to the Circuit Court of Appeals. As part of an exhaustive effort to establish Pryor's unfitness for office, the Democrats delved into his history of homophobic vacationing.
Was it true, demanded Senator Russ Feingold, that "you even went so far as to reschedule a family vacation at Disney World in order to avoid Gay Day?" Gay Day is an annual event at Disney, and Pryor is a practicing Catholic.
Yes, he even went so far! "My wife and I had two daughters, who at the time of that vacation were six and four," replied Pryor.
"But are you saying," gasped Senator Feingold in mock astonishment, "that you actually made that decision on purpose to be away at the time of that?" He actually did! "We made a value judgment and changed our plan and went another weekend."
"Well, I appreciate your candor on that," said Feingold, like Perry Mason on cross-examination, after artfully trapping the witness into an irreparably damaging admission.
Gay Day has its sweet side - Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck walk around holding hands, and so do Minnie and Daisy. I always figured Mickey was gay anyway. But the photographic souvenirs of the day unearthed by National Review also included a man quaffing on a beer bottle rising out from the unzipped pants of another chap. I wouldn't advise any young lady visitor to Disney to try that with her boyfriend: The park is very rigorously policed the other 364 days of the year.
But the disinclination of a devout Catholic to expose his four-year-old to the delights of Gay Day now renders one unfit for public office. Which exactly is the love that dare not speak its name here?
Pryor hasn't made any anti-gay rulings, but he might do one day, if we allow him to go around avoiding gay carousing on his vacations. Best to be on the safe side and vote him down now. And any other Catholics who still take that jazz seriously.
THIRTY YEARS ago, in the early days of gay liberation, most of us assumed we were being asked to live and let live. But throughout the Western world, tolerance has become remarkably intolerant, and diversity demands ruthless conformity. In New Zealand, an appeals court upheld a nationwide ban on importing a Christian video Gay Rights/Special Rights: Inside The Homosexual Agenda.
In Saskatchewan, The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix was fined by the Human Rights Commission for publishing an advertisement quoting biblical passages on homosexuality. Fining publishers of the Bible surely can't be far off. The coerciveness of the most "liberal" cultures in the Western world is not a pretty sight.
Whatever happened to "live and let live?" If I can live with the occasional rustle from the undergrowth as I'm strolling through a condom-strewn park or a come-hither look from George Michael in the men's room, why can't gays live with the occasional expression of disapproval?
Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage, they don't oppose the right of gays to advocate it. But increasingly gays oppose the right of Christians to advocate their beliefs. Gay activists have figured that instead of trying to persuade people to change their opinions, it's easier just to get them banned.
As Rodney King, celebrated black victim of the LAPD, once plaintively said, "Why can't we all just get along?"
But, if that's not possible, why can't we all just not get along? What's so bad about disagreement that it needs to be turned into a crime?