Cardinal Gustaaf Joos sued

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A follow-up to Cardinal Gustaaf Joos's bizarre remarks about gay people:

BRUSSELS – One of Belgium's leading civil rights groups has announced it intends to sue Belgian cardinal Gustaaf Joos for violating the country's anti-discrimination laws.

Joos said in a recent magazine interview that he believed that 90-95 percent of gay people were “sexual perverts” and that the remainder needed help.

Rights group sues cardinal over gay 'pervert' comments

Earlier: Am I gay or a pervert?


Maybe this is just me, but isn’t it kind of sad to note that the american tendancy to sue for any offense has reached Europe?

I agree that what the Cardinal said was offensive, but the group was specific in suing only him, which to me indicates that they are not holding the church responsible, probably because even the Belgian government wouldn’t be able to overcome the bad press resulting from suing the Catholic church.

For the most part, I’m suspicious of any government that tells it’s populations what is acceptable to say or, by implication, think, with the threat of a lawsuit if you don’t agree. This approach isn’t very likely to change the way people think. The beliefs are still there, they just cannot be expressed publicly, and therefore may wind up being expressed in a far more dangerous and deadly manner, ie “lets go bash some pervert’s heads in outside the bar tonight.”

These laws also have the potential for abuse of power built into them, simply by suing an opposing individual or group out of existence for political or personal reasons.

Far better for Gay and Lesbian rights groups to take the Cardinal to task publicly thean rely on a governmental organization, I think.

Actually it has often seemed to me that the primary internal purpose of medieval and renaissance governments in some countries, particularly England was settling innumerable petty lawsuits.

Not knowing the specifics of the Belgium hate crimes law don’t allow the group to sue the church or the portion of it residing within their national borders. Or they felt that the church as a whole shouldn’t be confused with individual leaders. It is hard to remember the church was often a socially liberalizing force until after John Paul II had been in power for a few years. He and his cronies have been bent on reversing the changes the church made back in 1960s. There are probably plenty of liberal clergy left over back then who aren’t allowed to speak anymore, would have to chose between leaving the church and remaining silent (which encompasses many personal and other issues I wouldn’t dare to pretend to know anything about).

Hate crime laws that pertain to speech trouble me deeply. I’ve always admired the ACLU’s defense of hate monger’s right to public speech. I remember an weird case of abuse when some Texans sued Oprah for something she said about beef that violated a Texas anti-defamation law.

I’m even more unhappy with laws that give large corporate entities civil rights as though they were individuals when many of them operate with economic and political clout more akin to a government.

It troubles me more than a little that Cardinal Joos could be sued for hate speech. I am a gay man and I have grown increasingly fearful of the wider effects of these anti-hate laws. They are intended to protect people who are felt to be especially vulnerable, but they are, to me, deeply antidemocratic and represent a dire threat to freedom of speech. It is precisely protection of offensive ideas and speech that has helped us to gain the freedom we gays have in today. To then turn around and silence people whose ideas offend us is ultimately self-defeating. I am on Volataire’s side, who said, “I disagree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.” That is a truly democratic value.

I’m not in favor of public utterance being classified as a hate crime (with the obvious exception of trying to incite a riot). But they don’t inspire much fear in me. The countries with national hate speech laws are ordinarily the most liberal and humane. Any law can be abused. Traffic laws have been used where I live to target Mexican immigrants.

There are actually two rights being trounced here: religion and speech. Democracies are not immune to Totalitarianism. When people can single out a group to punish for their thoughts and beliefs in the name of acceptance and diversity, then you know SOMEONE is suffering from a blind spot because it does not add up.

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