It is easy for Americans to forget how rare, and how precious, our guarantee of free speech is. Even the United Kingdom, the country from which we inherited most of our historic freedoms, does not recognize anything like our First Amendment. This fact was brought home by the recent declaration of a “safe zone” in Bournemouth, England. Rod Dreher has the story. It has to do with the sacrament of abortion, the last ideal, it seems, to which many liberals subscribe:
Sign of the times. The Left will protect its sacrament even at the cost of fundamental civil liberties. This is not going to get any better without concerted pushback from Britons. But are they even interested?
I would add:
* The “safe zone” appears to encompass the center city of Bournemouth.
* What is with the word “safe”? A lot of people are not safe in today’s world, with murders, aggravated assaults, carjackings and the like spiraling out of control. But that isn’t what liberals have in mind when they say people are “safe.” They mean that any expression of opinions different from theirs has been suppressed.
* Note what conduct has been prohibited as “unsafe”:
* “Protesting, namely engaging in an act of approval/disapproval…with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means.” This includes “…prayer or counseling.”
* “Displaying text or images relating directly or indirectly to the termination of pregnancy….”
* “Holding vigils where members audibly pray, recite scripture, genuflect, or sprinkle holy water on the ground or cross themselves if they perceive a service-user is passing by.”
So, yes: crossing yourself in the center city of Bournemouth, in the presence of someone who may be seeking an abortion, is now illegal. Violation of this ordinance is punishable by a fine and imprisonment.
Under the First Amendment and existing U.S. law, a ban on protesting, “engaging in an act of disapproval,” offering “prayer or counseling,” “displaying text or images” on one side of a controversy, and praying, reciting scripture, or crossing oneself in a defined geographic area, would be unconstitutional.
Does that mean it can’t happen here? No. The Constitution cannot eternally guarantee the right of free speech if that right is not supported, generally, by our populace. And major segments of our society, including those who now control the Democratic Party, are bitterly hostile to free speech. They subscribe to the idea that it is “unsafe” to “allow” speech with which one (a liberal, not a conservative) disagrees. And they view the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee as minor and subservient to more important “rights,” like the right to an abortion free of any exposure to disapproval.
And that is only the beginning of the Left’s list of constraints on your speech, and mine.