Friday, 12 April 2013

Why We Should All Worry About the Twitter Police

It's a moot point
As long as they are not gratuitously offensive, I think people should have freedom of speech. Part of me balks at this because I love Our Lord and Our lady and I know people will use this to attack them and their Church. But I also think the Church - the Mystical Body of Christ - is strong enough to fight back.

Don't you think the Protestants in the 16th Century used all manner of arguments, good and bad, true and false, against the Church. But when the Church got its boots on at Trent and via the Jesuits, it fought back, won back millions of souls and perfected what it already had and rooted out genuine abuses.

The problem today is that since the 60s and 70s the Church simply hasn't put its boots on. The enemy of the Faith is biting chunks out of the Church, and souls are being lost (especially in Europe), and too many Bishops are too busy playing golf and pat-a-cake with heretics to worry about defending and promoting the beauty of our dogmas.

Not Just the Church

Let's be frank though, it's not only Catholicism that comes under attack via free speech. In this week we have heard of a police youth commissioner (or somesuch) being sacked for making "racist" and "homophobic" statements and a police sergeant coming under pressure for making a statement against Margaret Thatcher.

We are approaching a dangerous time. Children who make tongue-in-cheek off-the-cuff remarks deemed politically incorrect and policemen who air their political views (both on their private Twitter accounts) are put under huge pressure.

It is a silly state of affairs. It is a dangerous state of affairs. It matters not whether we agree or disagree with their statements, or whether they were silly or serious. We should have a level of freedom of speech. This means that, short of gratuitously offending people by attacking an institution, group or person with genuine hatred (i.e. "I hate all gays/blacks/Catholics/whites/Protestants/Man Utd supporters" and so inciting possible violence against them), we must be free to state our beliefs without fear of a media onslaught and pressure to resign our job.

That means if I say:

I hate homosexuality
I hate immigration
I hate Catholicism
I hate racists or xenophobes
I hate Protestantism
I hate Man Utd or football

it shouldn't matter how ridiculous my statement is or is perceived to be, how ill-informed (ignorant) I may or may not be, I should be free to do so without fear or favour.

A policeman who says 'I hate Thatcher' should be as free to do so as a teacher who says 'I love Thatcherism'. A magistrate should be able to say 'I loathe homosexuality' as much as a GP should be able to say 'I think homosexuality will secure our future.' A comedian should be free to say that 'Catholicism is the greatest hatred and the source of all our woes' as I should be to say that 'our culture is rooted in Catholicism and it offers the answers to all mankind's woes.' A scientists should be free to say 'I don't believe in man-made climate change' as much as a scientist should be free to say 'man-made climate change is an established fact.'

There is a world of difference between sensibly airing your genuinely held views and being gratuitously offensive, just as their is a world of difference between a tongue-in-cheek jibe at a TV show and foul and abusive language.

If we're not careful we will create a climate of fear. Furthermore it will be those who might make sensible comments on social/political and similar matters who are silenced leaving the floor open to those who "go with the flow" as dictated by what is politically acceptable.

The chattering classes and Islington-set may see nothing wrong with that now, but what if the government changes? What if they start losing their jobs and start being locked up for airing liberal views? Those who cheer as the police knock on doors or investigate serious or silly tweets deemed un-pc or politically "offensive" might want to think twice, for it could be their doors getting a 6am knock and their livelihood at risk a few years from now...

Genuine liberties are hard won and easily surrendered.

It washes both ways of course. Will those dancing on the streets at Margaret Thatcher's death be so easy-going and understanding should some people organise similar celebratory street parties when Nelson Mandela dies? I would wager they would attack them and seek their arrest.

With certain freedoms come certain responsibilities, as Catholics well know (free will and all that).


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