Freedom of speech no longer exists in the U.K., an authoritarian country that now arrests people for simply posting inappropriate remarks to social media — or, in the case of Rev. Franklin Graham, demands they be banned from entering the U.K. because some find their views offensive.
As reported by The Guardian in early December, a number of prominent U.K. officials have sought to prevent Graham from visiting the country next September for a festival to be hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association U.K., of which Graham happens to be the president and CEO.
“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,” said Afzal Khan, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton.
“I think, frankly, the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing and not probably in my view a very Christian thing,” added Gordon Marsden, the Labor MP for Blackpool South.
Some of the U.K.’s religious community have joined the chorus, with Blackpool vicars Andrew Sage and Tracy Charnock penning an open letter to the bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, demanding he distance himself from Graham.
“(W)e cannot stay silent in the face of such dangerous and outspoken prejudice,” they wrote. “To be clear. We area NOT against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it.”
“Why all the exasperation?” you ask. “Did Graham threaten someone or something?”
Certainly not. Graham merely expressed his blunt views on controversial topics such as the religion of Islam.
“The evangelist, who backed Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election, has described Islam as ‘an evil and very wicked religion’ and has equated the actions of extremist groups such as Isis with the faith,” The Guardian reported.
Just to be clear, “Isis” is a acronym for the Islamic State group. The key word there is Islamic.
“He claimed that Barack Obama was ‘born a Muslim’ and had allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government at the highest levels during his presidency,” The Guardian added. “He also said the Obama administration was pushing ‘a gay and lesbian agenda’, and he has spoken out against LGBT rights, saying Satan is behind same-sex marriage.”
So what Graham has said is arguably true. But even if it weren’t, it wouldn’t matter in the United States because the Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. So long as your speech doesn’t harm or incite harm against others, nobody (including those in government) can stop you from speaking your mind, though that doesn’t mean you’re free of the potential consequences.
Unfortunately, such protections don’t apply in the U.K., as was noted by Reason magazine a couple years back.
“The one massive difference between you (Americans) and us (Britains) is that you have a constitutional guarantee of free speech that shackles the state, whereas we have a long history of brave battles for press freedom and free speech, yes, but no written-down surety that such liberties will be respected or protected,” wrote Libertarian activist Brendan O’Neill. “Which is why they can now be so casually trampled underfoot.”
As of January 2018, Graham had not yet been formally banned from the U.K. But given how many other outspoken Americans have been banned — including Pamela Geller, Michael Savage and even a rapper named Tyler the Creator — it would not surprise me to see Graham banned sooner rather than later.
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