In any event, just as nearly all the major Western news organizations refused to show the Danish Muhammed cartoons, none of the media reporting on the Conway case have dared to vouchsafe readers a glimpse of the materials he posted. No, we’re simply expected to take their and the prosecutors’ word that the stuff was, indeed, vile. One prosecutor, Edward Johnson, is reported to have “described the material…as grossly offensive towards the Muslim faith.” Meanwhile the Crown Prosecution Service’s own website has posted an extensive statement on the matter by Judith Walker, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS East Midlands:
Everyone has the right to live free from harassment in a tolerant society. Darren Conway displayed highly offensive posters in his window targeted at the Muslim community. Although they were targeted at Muslims, they would cause offence to virtually anyone that saw them.
Today’s conviction sends a strong message that targeting groups in society in this deliberately offensive way has no place in our community and will not be tolerated. The words and images used by Conway were particularly disgusting, so it was important to bring this case to court and ensure that he faced the full consequences of his actions.
The Crown Prosecution Service will continue to treat cases based on hatred with the utmost seriousness. It is essential that everyone in our community is free to live without harassment and that anyone who jeopardises that freedom will face prosecution.
We all owe Walker a debt of gratitude, for in this statement she takes us right to the heart of the matter, giving us a crystal-clear picture of how these people think. To place in the window of your home slogans and pictures that add up to a criticism of Islamic ideology is not to exercise your freedom of speech; it is to commit an act of “harassment” that has no place “in a tolerant society” and that must therefore be punished.
Note Walker’s chillingly Orwellian understanding of the concept of freedom, which has its roots not in Magna Carta or the Enlightenment but in sharia. When she says that it is “essential that everyone in our community is free to live without harassment,” she means nothing more or less than this: that it is the right of Muslims in Britain to live in a society free of criticism of their religion. And when she says that “anyone who jeopardises that freedom will face prosecution,” she means this: that any British citizen who thinks that he enjoys the right under British law to criticize anything, including Islam, is mistaken; he does not have any such right; and if he acts as if he does, he will be incarcerated.
Walker’s pretense to the contrary, there is, needless to say, a colossal double standard at the heart of her thinking. The recent history of Britain has shown that a great variety of statements and actions by British Muslims that many non-members of their faith might well consider exceedingly vile and offensive, and might legitimately regard as acts of harassment – including a number of the statements and actions recorded in the above-mentioned BBC report on Luton – are in little or no danger of leading to prosecution or imprisonment. Such is the kind of legal thinking, and juridical practice, that, more and more every day, is shaping the destiny of the land of John Stuart Mill and Winston Churchill.
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