You Can’t Say That

Uh oh.

A criminal investigation has been started by Scotland Yard into an advertisement from the Gay Police Association (GPA) that blamed religion for a 74 per cent increase in homophobic crime…Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, who leads the domestic violence and hate crime unit, disclosed the investigation in a letter to Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative MP. He wrote: “The original advertisement has been recorded as a religiously aggravated hate crime incident following a crime allegation by a member of the public.”

The original advertisement is a hate crime (incident). That’s interesting. Where I come from it’s things like murders and assaults that are hate crimes, not just ads. But that’s okay, maybe I come from a silly place. But – isn’t this what everyone said? Not everyone, but everyone who thought this here religious hatred bill was not such a hot idea? Atkinson and Rushdie and people like that there? That it would be used to punish and prevent criticism of religion? And didn’t everyone who thought the religious hatred bill was indeed a hot idea say that no no, no no no no no, it wouldn’t do that, good heavens no, it wouldn’t impede or suppress legitimate criticism of religion at all, no no, it wouldn’t have a chilling effect on humour or satire or mockery or polemic about religion, it would be used strictly to prevent – um – the kind of thing that needed to be prevented, and nothing else. Trust them. It would. Honest. So – now you get someone making an allegation of crime and Scotland Yard wheels majestically into action? But – what exactly is the crime here? Expressing an opinion about the connection between Biblical literalist religion and homophobia? That’s a crime? Well jeez, welcome to 1589, enjoy your stay.

Widdecombe, a Christian who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993, was angered by the advertisement. “It seems a deliberate attempt to stir up hate against Christians,” she said. By using that famous line of worship, In The Name of the Father, the association is effectively alleging that Christians are solely responsible for hate crime. “The implication of this advertisement is that Christians stir up assault and abuse against homosexuals. This is not true, as Christians are specifically taught not to hate; not just to refrain from acts or expressions of hatred, but not to give in to hate itself.”

That is an absurd thing to say. Really profoundly absurd. Some Christians are specifically taught not to hate, but she must know (and if she doesn’t she ought to; it’s her duty as an MP, especially one who talks to newspapers about this subject) that not all Christians are taught any such thing. If she really thinks that no Christians anywhere are taught to hate homosexuals, she’s living in a dream world. (Perhaps she means that Christians who pay attention to what Jesus actually said are taught not to hate. But that’s not true either. It’s true of what Jesus says in some parts of the gospels, but it’s not true of what he says in other parts.)

Bernard McEldowney, the deputy chairman of the association, which is an independent body, said: “We wanted to focus on what we regard as a problem of faith-based homophobia, not just Christianity. “But when most people think about religion they think of the Bible which is why we agreed to illustrate the advert pictorially with a Bible. In hindsight maybe we should not have used the Bible but we wanted to highlight serious homophobic incidents on the grounds and justification of religious belief.”

Well you can’t, because saying things like that is a crime. Amen.

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