Grey Thoughts
2.12.05
 
The problem of morality
I posted yesterday about the inconsistency in the moral standards of Krizz from the Swedish Law Blog with regards to Swedish Pastor Ake Green's sermon on the immorality of homosexuality. Krizz, in the comments has made a few points that should be checked out and also points to a previous post of his on the topic which has more comments on the sermon.

Let me say firstly, that Krizz seems like a nice enough guy. He writes intelligently and eloquently and has done nothing that would make me think him a horrible person. My problem is not with him, but with the ideas that he puts forward. And that cause of that problem is not simply that I disagree with the ideas, but that the ideas themselves are not logical (i.e. rational).

So onto the ideas
However, Justice Holmes stated that the freedom of speech could not be relied upon by someone falsely crying "fire" in a crowded theater, and I believe that there have to be certain limits to the freedom of speech.
I would agree entirely. However the question needs to be asked as to what grounds those limits should be placed. Bomb threats, death threats, libel and slander are common limits placed on free speech. But in no case is the questioning of the morality of making bomb threats within those limits. I.e. The common grounds for limiting free speech do not seem to include moral claims. There may be significant social pressure in these respects, but not legal action. This is one reason why we don't lock up professors and lecturers who like to push how great Mao and communism is, even though communism has caused over 140 Million deaths in the last century.

Limiting ideas is the province of despotic, not democratic governments.

The problem in this case is that Ã…ke Green overstepped those limits, a view I seem to share with the Supreme Court of Sweden
In understanding that we are talking about inconsistent moral standards, it appears that the only defense is that Krizz's view is shared by the Supreme court. Remembering that Krizz called Ake's views 'sick' and that it was deplorable he was allowed to share them, there seems to be no grounds for this other than what is given here.

So is the basis of Krizz's moral beliefs about Ake's moral beliefs simply that many people agree with him or that the laws of the land agree with him? Either way, he seems to be on shaky grounds.

As the court found him innocent, it agreed that the laws that bind Sweden (including the European Court of Human Rights) do not find his views illegal. As such, the illegality of his views cannot be the basis as his views are not illegal. But even if his views were illegal, then we get to the counter-intuitive idea that simply because something is illegal, then it is deplorable (i.e. the laws decide what is moral). What makes this counter-intuitive is that it means that you cannot reform (i.e. make better) a societies morals, and that anyone who wants to do so is pushing an immoral act until the moment that the laws change when they are pushing a moral act. Ultimately, the belief that laws decide morality is unsupportable. Laws can reflect and be based on morality, but not decide morality.

So we are left with the idea that a group of people can decide what is moral and what is immoral. But this to, can be seen to be unsupportable. In the past the majority of the people in the world felt it was perfectly acceptable to have slaves. On a national basis, a majority of the German's felt that eradicating the Jews was moral. So to believe that a group of people can decide morality, then another group cannot criticize that morality. Clearly, in a democratic Europe, the European Human Rights has been affirmed by a majority of the people, yet we find that Krizz is criticizing this belief.

Clearly, it seems that Krizz has strongly held moral beliefs and in no way do I propose to restrict his right to hold those beliefs or to speak of those beliefs. But to complain that it is deplorable that Ake Green is allowed to share his beliefs, simply because those you don't like those beliefs is simply trying to oppress and suppress anyone who doesn't agree with you. It does not belong in a democratic country.

As one other note, in the post Krizz provided, he made the following comment
Nothing about killing all gays at all; only a disgusting expression of assumed moral superiority over sinners (I am sure that I am among the sinners, even if I am not gay. I may have “entertained evil thoughts” when a nice blonde passed by).
This is a complete misunderstanding of Ake's and the Christian position. The correct position is that we are ALL sinners. Me, Ake, Krizz, all of us. I have no moral superiority. Simply pointing out that certain actions are sinful does not indicate that I feel I do.
Comments:
This is a complete misunderstanding of Ake's and the Christian position. The correct position is that we are ALL sinners. Me, Ake, Krizz, all of us. I have no moral superiority. Simply pointing out that certain actions are sinful does not indicate that I feel I do.

I do maybe not qualify as sufficiently Christian, and maybe not sufficiently proficient in Swedish, but I would propose that most Christians who understand his Swedish sermon think that this is exactly what Åke Green did not express, but that would absolutely not be a ground for prosecution. That departure from mainstream Christianity is clearly within the area of religious freedom.

The issue is instead: Did he use his Bible to disseminate disrespect for a protected minority group (which is illegal) instead of searching to save them (which the law has no opinion about). Did he also encourage persecution?

Since the European Convention on Human Rights is one of the country's laws, it was now discovered (the Supreme Court guesses) that two important laws conflict with eachother.

The Supreme Court concluded that he did, but not sufficiently much for a conviction.

Only a few days before, it was big news in Sweden that one Muslim imam had been recorded while leading a prayer for the death of the Jews, the Americans and the Britons.

I guess Swedish legislators now will have to examine the need to get these laws to resonance. ;-)
 
Did he use his Bible to disseminate disrespect for a protected minority group (which is illegal)

Laurila, I find you use of terminology here interesting. Notice how we have come from, possibly, indirectly promoting violence against a certain group to disseminating disrespect. And not just disrespect to any group but a protected minority. See how from just a day before you have already slid down the slope? Now you have to show "respect". Otherwise you are breaking the law.
 
I think we all try to translate terms as correctly as we can despite being far from experts on judicial translations.

There is a huge latitude between disseminating disrespect and showing respect. Being legally hindered to instigate disrespect is of course not equal to being legally required to show respect.

Not repeating what was written yesterday does of course not equal to having changed opinion. My comment above intends to illuminate that Green didn't stop were ordinary Christians stop, i.e. at pointing out that certain actions are sinful.

Seen attempts to present the trial as if Green was prosecuted for reading the Bible do unfortunately not contribute to a correct understanding of the issue.

Trying to paint it as a case of prosecution of Christians doesn't fit either. The debate has not at all been easily defined, and several homosexuals have supported the acquittal while not so few Christians have deplored it.

Anyway, in case this exchange of thought will end here, I must thank you for sharing your thoughts.
 
Well spotted Chris. The issue changes from hate speech to 'respect'.

Tolerance is not about treating all ideas as equal, but about treating all people as equal.

I don't have to 'respect' any particular point of view on the moral status of homosexual acts. But as Ake Green said "We must never think that some people, because of their sinful lives, would end up outside of grace. Paul says about himself that he was the foremost of all sinners, but he encountered an abundance of grace and mercy….. It is by showing all people grace and mercy that we can win them for Christ. We never win anyone by giving them the cold shoulder.”

Just as all of us are sinful, and need grace and mercy, Ake encourages us to treat homosexuals with the same mercy and grace. I don't understand Laurila, how you can say that "this is exactly waht Ake Green did not express" when Ake's sermon says it is a sin, and like all of us sinners they need mercy and grace
 
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