“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
— Not Voltaire
Friday afternoon saw a bit of muttering on Twitter over the plight of Archbishop Cranmer, the pseudonymous Christian blogger claiming persecution for carrying a Coalition 4 Marriage advertisement on his website.
According to Cranmer, the Advertising Standards Authority contacted him after receiving 24 complaints that the advert was offensive and homophobic, and now he is the subject of a “formal investigation.” Cranmer must explain his “rationale for the ad and comment specifically on the points raised in the attached complaint notification.” The ASA wants to see
… robust documentary evidence to back the claims and a clear explanation from you of its relevance and why you think it substantiates the claims. It is not enough to send references to or abstracts of documents and papers without sending the reports in full and specifically highlighting the relevant parts explaining why they are relevant to the matter in hand.
I’m not sure whether the ASA is at fault here, as perhaps it’s simply their standard procedure to launch an investigation of this type after so many complaints. But clearly someone in this story is bent on silencing Cranmer and regards “keeping the traditional definition of marriage” (whatever that means to its advocates) as homophobic and offensive in and of itself; so much so, that no one must be allowed to say it.
When is this constant drive at censoring one’s political and religious opponents going to end? Increasingly, the knee-jerk reaction to any offensive or objectionable view is not to respond with reasoned argument, but to complain to some authority and get the other side shut down. Are we so insecure in our claims that the only way we can counter critics is to force them into silence?
I have problems with C4M. I have problems with their poll, which their ad says found that “70% of people say keep marriage as it is.” But I would rather give a reasoned response to their claims (stay tuned for that!) than simply shut them up.
Let C4M air their views. They may be offensive (and my view is that, while opposing same-sex marriage isn’t always homophobic in itself, the movement to oppose it is rife with homophobia and prejudice), but if we SSM advocates are in the right, our claims can withstand such opposition.
At best, these shenanigans fuel claims of Christian persecution and marginalization. At worst, they rob us of free speech, our democratic society’s most precious commodity.