|It's raining men|
In the last few days, many in the UK have been mightily entertained as a result of the publication of a letter in a local paper.
In the Henley Standard, UKIP councillor David Silvester stated that he had warned Prime Minister David Cameron, but that the recent storms and flooding were a direct consequence of the plans to allow gay (equal) marriage.
Initially, a UKIP spokesperson stated that Mr Silvester was entitled to his opinion, but a day later, it was announced that he had been suspended, while party leader Nigel Farage promised that certain UKIP candidates would not be standing again for election.
It is, of course, rather amusing to see that Mr Farage has realised the potentially negative impact at the ballot box of some of his loonier members.
There’s a spot of irony in the fact that – if you took the Telegraph forums at face value at least – people were deserting the Conservative Party for UKIP on just that issue only a year ago, in between promising that there would be mass “civil disobedience” if those gays were allowed to get properly hitched.
After all, UKIP itself had made it quite clear that it considered plans for equal marriage to be “illiberal”, making it odder yet that it now meets such illiberality with, err, illiberality.
And it’s interesting that a party that prides itself on not being politically correct has decided that freedom of speech is actually negotiable and that image matters more than said freedom of speech if you’re hoping to win votes in just a very few months.
For what it’s worth, my personal opinion is that Mr Silvester didn’t so much say anything offensive as simply barking. And the one is not the same as the other.
There’s no question of incitement that I can see in either his letter or in his subsequent TV comments.
And much as I personally consider that his comments are bonkers, there’s something that should concern us all when we see people being, in effect, censored for daring to voice their opinions in an entirely polite manner – let alone by a party that was entirely happy to play to and welcome people of his opinion until only very recently.
We do need to remember – or get our heads around – the idea that nobody has a right to not be offended.
Without that, free speech falls. And, of course, honesty falls with it.
Dictatorial regimes kill free speech. Theocracies kill free speech. Religions try rather hard to kill free speech. And overt political correctness kills free speech.
At the moment – not entirely coincidentally – I’m engaged in a debate with someone on a newspaper forum, after they objected to my question of when heterosexuals ‘chose’ to be straight.
I don’t know the person, but the discussion suggests he’s male and religious.
His objection is based on his apparently having chosen to be not gay where he once was.
As of now, he’s still refusing to say when he chose to be gay. After all, if he had to choose to be straight – in compliance with god’s law or even a perception of nature – then he must, at some point, have equally chosen to go against god’s law or nature.
The more I think about it, the more I feel for this individual. I get a sense – I could be wrong, of course – that this is a daily struggle with his natural and inherent self, because somehow he has become convinced that his natural self is inherently wrong … that it is bad and sinful and must be changed and controlled.
There’s something awful and destructive and life-denying in that, and I wish it on nobody.
But if one were to pursue a theological line of reasoning, that wouldn’t help either.
After all, if you couldn’t say when you chose to become gay in the first place, you’re left with the knowledge that you just are. And if you believe in a god, then that leaves you wondering why that god made or allowed you to be gay in the first place, when that same god is explicitly opposed to gayness.
With Judeo-Christian tradition, god is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent: from the beginning of time, he knew everything that would ever happen, when and how. And since he created it all in the first place, then he created human sexuality and what some call ‘sin’, and the paths that individuals would themselves take.
Such religion logically allows no room for freedom and for individual decisions. The two are like oil and water.
Perhaps it’s a matter of ‘the sins of the fathers’?
Now there’s a phrase that I really detest.
Can you seriously imagine a single, sane, un-brainwashed, decent human being suggesting that society should punish an entirely innocent person for something that their father or their grandmother or great-granduncle did?
Would any civilised person consider that a good basis for society?
I rather doubt it.
It would be like saying that collective punishment is suddenly okay.
So if god created human sexuality – for Catholics at least, the idea of any other being having the power of creation is heresy – then that same god punishes people for precisely what he created.
Yeah. I can see why people would be cool with that.
I mean, even if such a god exists, why would you want to worship such a being?
You wouldn’t accept any equivalent in real life, so why would anyone accept it from their idea of a god?
People are entitled to their beliefs and unless they make statements that break existing law on incitement, they should continue to be free to make those statements.
There’s no evidence that Mr Silvester, for instance, ‘hates’ gays – just that he’s three stops short of Upminster, which ain’t a crime, the last time I checked. He should no more be censored for that than I should for expressing my opinion on his lunacy.
None of this means that I’m not having a damned good old laugh at much of the satirical (but not censoring) response to Mr Silvester’s comments.
Indeed, even as I write, I’m listening to that great disco classic, It’s Raining Men.
And just think: if we censor such people, we don’t destroy the beliefs or the arguments, we merely drive them underground and risk making martyrs of them.