Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Strange Bedfellows in the Defense of Freedom of Speech

I never thought that I would find myself on the same side of a human rights issue with the national gay rights group, EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere). But amazingly, I do in the case of Stephen Boissoin who is before the Alberta Human Rights Commission today. Five years ago, Boissoin, who was a youth pastor at the time, wrote a letter to the Red Deer Advocate in which he stated his belief that homosexuals and those who defend them were as immoral as pedophiles and drug dealers. The letter led to a complaint from Darren Lund, then a high school teacher in Red Deer. Lund is a married father who is not homosexual and a longtime human rights activist. He has asked the AHRC that Boissoin publish an apology and be fined $7000 ($5,000 in personal damages and $2,000 to be donated to EGALE).

Ironically, EGALE, however, has gone on record as stating that they will not support Lund and that they believe that Boissoin has a right to express his opinions in the public arena even though it vehemently disagrees with them.

This is an absolutely correct position to take. Nothing that Boissoin has said is illegal. He has not called for violence against homosexuals. He simply stated his beliefs. Strongly, to be sure. Perhaps more strongly than some of the rest of us would care to. But he does have the right to publicly state his convictions. To restrict these rights is to threaten the rights of others to do likewise, including homosexuals. EGALE understands this.

The problem is, there are those in our society who are increasingly demanding the right not to have to listen to someone whom they disagree with. We want the right not to be offended, not to have our feelings hurts, not to be made to feel sad because someone doesn't like us. We don't even want to be exposed to such opinions. This is intolerance of the meanest, pettiest sort. This is why I will not get upset every time someone says something stupid in the media about Christians or Christianity. I know that some believe that this (disinformation) is the first step towards persecution. Perhaps this is true (although this has yet to be proven, in my opinion) but I am more concerned that the restricting of freedom of speech is a far greater threat.

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