Monday, July 5, 2004

Voltaire, Call Your Office!

The 18th century French writer Voltaire is famous, inter alia, for having proclaimed what is perhaps the most well-known endorsement of free speech ever uttered: "I may not agree with what you say," he wrote, "but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." Sadly, this noble sentiment has not managed to penetrate the land of unbounded tolerance for all things morally and socially exotic but where speech is tolerated, apparently, only to the extent one says the approved things. No, we're not talking about New York or Los Angeles (although the day may not be far off when we will be). We're talking about Sweden, believe it or not:

Stockholm (ENI). A Swedish court has sentenced a pastor belonging to the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, Ake Green, to a month in prison, under a law against incitement, after he was found guilty of having offended homosexuals in a sermon. Soren Andersson, the president of the Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights (RFSL), said on hearing the sentence that religious freedom could never be used as a reason to offend people. "Therefore," he told journalists, "I cannot regard the sentence as an act of interference with freedom of religion." During a sermon in 2003, Green described homosexuality as "abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society".

This is what freedom of speech looks like in Sweden. Thank God for the first amendment.