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This blog has been here before – the threat to free speech posed by our idiot laws against ‘hate speech’ being interpreted by even more idiot judges who think that quoting the Bible equals ‘homophobia. The latest one has been the closest call yet. Last March Mike Overd was found guilty of hate speech and ordered to pay compensation to a man who claimed he had been ‘offended’ by Mike quoting from what Leviticus has to say about homosexuality. I didn’t write about it at the time because Mike appealed. I know folk who know Mike, and Mike has preached in Taunton for many years, in much the way I and others do here. Thankfully the appeal judge, a man of sound common sense, decided that the the prosecution had failed to make its case. Mike has had costs awarded in his favour, so some lawyers on the other side, who clearly did a shoddy job, will, nevertheless, have their fees paid; I hope someone looks at their conduct of the case and slaps a fine on them. It is lawyers like that who pose the greatest threat to free speech. I would probably stray into the area of possible libel if I mentioned the first judge and his judgment, so I shall say nothing about District Judge Shamim Ahmed Qureshi, who was, no doubt, perfectly qualified to pronounce on what Biblical verses a Christian should have been using (he thought Lev 18 rather than 20 should have been used), despite appearances to the contrary.

What I will do is quote Mike’s words for truth:

“In this country, we are now in the ludicrous situation where the slightest accusation of a ‘phobia’, be it ‘homophobia’ or ‘Islamaphobia’, is enough to paralyse rational action by the police and authorities. The highly politicised dogma of ‘phobias’ now too often results in trumped up charges and legal action. There is a chilling effect.

“Reasonable, law-abiding people now feel that they can’t say certain things and that is dangerous. Totalitarian regimes develop when ordinary people feel that there are certain things that can’t be said.

“Rather than prizing freedom of expression and protecting it, the police and the prosecutors risk undermining it, because they’ve become paranoid about anyone who might possibly feel offended.”

I have not yet come across a Muslim preacher being brought to court for quoting from the Koran, which is surely just my not finding this happening, and not a symptom of the same cowardice in the face of the professional ‘offendotrons’ of the Left. As it happens, if there had been such a case, I’d be on the side of Muslim preacher. There’s far too much of this sort of thing going on.

Every time our legislators pass laws restricting speech, they dispute the claims made by folk like me that this is corroding free speech to the point at which it is an endangered species. We really need, as a society, to sort this out. A chap sharing the word of God with folk who stop to listen, should not find himself up before the beak for quoting from Scripture. The Law is capable of being an ass, but only because those who make those laws are total asses. I would like to think this would be a wake up call, but don’t think it is.

I am glad Mike is free, and will raise a glass to him – but we will see more and more of these cases.