Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Swedish Preacher Dilemma

I've read this news story several times, and I gotta admit, this is a very confusing situation, you're not quite sure whose side to be on in this.

This preacher in Sweden said in a sermon that gay people were sending the whole world to hell, y'know, the usual stuff.
One Sunday in the summer of 2003, the Rev. Ake Green, a Pentecostal pastor, stepped into the pulpit of his small church in the southern Swedish village of Borgholm. There, the 63-year-old clergyman delivered a sermon denouncing homosexuality as "a deep cancerous tumor in the entire society" and condemning Sweden's plan to allow gays to form legally recognized partnerships.

"Our country is facing a disaster of great proportions," he told the 75 parishioners at the service. "Sexually twisted people will rape animals," Green declared, and homosexuals "open the door to forbidden areas," such as pedophilia. Swede's Sermon on Gays: Bigotry or Free Speech?

Yeah, we've heard all that before, we didn't have to go to Sweden to find out that the "gay agenda" is undermining our entire civilization. But then, there's the Swedish angle:
With these words, which the local newspaper published at his request, Green ran afoul of Sweden's strict laws against hate speech. He was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He remains free pending appeal.

Well, that's the difference between Sweden and the US, I guess. We have hate-crime laws, but you can still pretty much say whatever stupid thing you want here. There, they lock you up.

So you find yourself rooting for the preacher, because all he did was express his opinion and now The Man is puttin' him down ... but wait, you root against him, because what he said was so moronic.
On Wednesday last week, about 200 people gathered outside the courthouse in the southern city of Jonkoping to voice support for Green during his first appeal. Many who showed up were homosexuals who said while they disagreed vehemently with what the pastor said, they defended his right to say it.

Inside, prosecutor Kjell Yngvesson argued that Green had "expressed disdain for homosexuals as a group" and that the 30-day jail term should be lengthened.

Well, I have a little theory about democracy and human intellect. I think, in the short run, people can disappoint you, they'll make choices and support causes that are obviously maladaptive and inconsistent. Over time, though, with open debate and free exchange of opinions, people will work around to a consensus position that serves everyone quite well.

For instance, in Montgomery County right now, we have some people yelling at the rest of us, sorta taking the Swedish preacher's point of view. I expect that, over time, there will be some discussions, some dialogue and eventually the people of our county will settle on something we can all live with.

We don't want to see the recall group locked up for the dumb things they say. I want them to be able to say stuff right out loud, so everybody can hear how silly it all sounds. The "gay agenda" this, the "sodomites" that, "ex-gays" this and the other thing. This is America, we speak freely, we teach our kids the facts, the people will come together on the side of reason.


Blogger War Diaries said...

I agree with you, Jim, to a certain extent. If people were saying the things we have read on the Recall website, or in the billboard on Rockville about black people, about Hispanics, or about Jews they will be prosecuted for hate crimes and hate speech...because, in fact, hatred is condemned in U.S. laws. It's no wonder that they come with that verse of: "love the sinner, hate the sin." (Back in History, they say the same thing, and to help the sinners overcome the sin they burned them up and sent them really hot to Heaven...kind of the "reparative therapy," I understand.)
Noneone would be mad at someone who says those kinds of things about pedofiles, because being a pedofile is, indeed, a crime. Same with robbers, corporate criminals, and a long list. But when you pinpoint a group of people - homosexuals in this case- and you say they are: sinners, they are bound to Hell unless they change, they are corrupting our entire society, they are making our children homosexuals, and you know the rest..., then that's hate speech...and it's illegal.
What would happen to a preacher in Washington DC who says: black people are crime prone; Jews are always in a conspiracy to take on the world (sort of a "Jewish agenda"); Hispanics are corrupting our society with their lack of education; statistics show that Hispanics and Blacks have higher rates of AIDS and other STDs which prove that being of any of those groups, or in close contact with them, is a huge public health risk; most gangs in the Metropolitan area are formed by Hispanics which proves they are all a bunch of criminals from a very early age?
Things like that are being said of homosexuals, I don't know why we should accept that when referring to them, when we wouldn't when said of other groups of law abiding citizens.

January 29, 2005 8:17 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Well, my feeling is that when people say stupid things, other people recognize the stupidity of it, and in the long run their opinions are discredited. I am most comfortable with giving them the freedom to express their beliefs... there is a danger in it, for sure, but in the long run people will find what is best.


January 29, 2005 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, my feeling is that when people say stupid things, other people recognize the stupidity of it, and in the long run their opinions are discredited." -Jim Kennedy

That speaks volumes Jim -- I have to agree with you. The more you talk the more other people will recognize the 'stupidity of it'.

Keep on talkin'.


February 02, 2005 6:10 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Will do, MB.

February 03, 2005 9:23 AM  

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