Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Monday, December 20, 2004
A dilemma concerning free speech and religion. No, I'm not talking about the theatre surrendering to the mob. That one has been settled in obedience to the word of that god before whom every modern knee doth bow:
The theatre said it had refused to censor the work and was abandoning it purely on health and safety grounds.
So that's all right then. Let us turn to the case I did want to talk about. It is reported in the Richmond and Twickenham Times of 3 December that
A CHISWICK man has had an injunction taken out against him after he was accused of bombarding members of the Mormons with phone calls and text messages to tempt them from their faith.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was granted an injunction at the High Court following a prolonged campaign by Andrew Price, an Evangelical Christian preacher.

Price was also banned from going within 30 yards of any Mormon mission, with the exception of its central London headquarters in south Kensington, where he is barred from standing on the same side of the road.

The judge presiding over the case was told that Price, 44, had made over 4,000 cold calls to Mormon missionaries, preached for 30 minutes at members travelling on the tube, chased them down the street and had even spent three hours knocking at a church elder's door.

Ho ho! The biter bit! But it's not really that funny.

What this guy was doing clearly did amount to persecution. Although an unwilling recipient of a Mormon missionary couple's knock may resent the minute it takes to send them on their way, the fact that it is a minute and not three hours is crucial.

Yet I feel sorry for Price. He faces a legal bill of thirty thousand pounds. Better for him and his victims if he had faced a smaller punishment sooner. (A thing I often say in all sorts of contexts.)

It would be an ill day if door-to-door evangelists or, indeed, candidates for election or door-to-door salesmen, were forbidden to do what they do. Imagine a zero tolerance regime for doorstep canvassing. You get into a political argument with your work colleague while driving her home from the office Christmas do. You drop her home, polite but tense, neither she nor you wanting to come out and say that you really have quarrelled. She steps inside her front door and it clicks shut - you think of an absolutely conclusive point - and half-meaning to carry it off as a joke but wanting at the same time to land a verbal punch, you ring the bell - she answers, thinking she has forgotten hat or gloves - you smirk and say rather louder than you intended, "And another thing..."

And you are up in court the following morning.