One of Liberty Unyielding’s all-time top click magnets is a post by Howard Portnoy from March 2014, in which he recounted the story of a Muslim barber in Toronto who didn’t want to serve a lesbian woman who came in for a hair cut. The owner and his barbers adhered to their religious belief that they shouldn’t touch women other than their wives or other family members. The would-be customer filed a complaint with the provincial human rights authorities of Ontario. And the classic question about the hierarchy of victimhood — whose rights trump whose? — has remained unresolved here at LU ever since.
The “rights” complaint was resolved between the barber and the lesbian in a confidential filing. So we don’t have the help of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in settling this question.
But Friday’s referendum on same-sex marriage in Ireland may provide us with a navigation point toward the answer. The Irish electorate voted, with about a 60% majority, to approve same-sex marriage. Activists are ecstatic.
Not so ecstatic was British Muslim journalist Faisal Hanif, a reporter for the UK Times. Under his Twitter handle FHanif43, he reacted to the news of the Irish vote with a curmudgeonly tweet.
As far as I can discern, no one took advantage of this ripe opportunity to allude, ironically or otherwise, to Thomas Cahill’s 1996 book How the Irish Saved Civilization. Meme-barking began immediately. A series of sophomoric exchanges with outraged journalists ensued.
Breitbart London has more. Eventually, a parliamentary staffer (now reportedly working for the Green Party) joined the Twitter fray, apparently to make sure that the Times and not the Daily Mail would be tarred with the shame of Mr. Hanif’s prohibited views.
Hanif, having had enough, appended the hashtag #liberalbigotry to his response.
And according to Breitbart London:
Just moments later, Hanif’s account was locked, and then deleted.
I double-checked before composing this post, and found Hanif’s old account non-existent, and apparently no new account established. It’s interesting, at this point, to note that Hanif was polite throughout the exchanges screen-capped by Breitbart, making no threats and using no obscene or even discourteous language. From here, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to delete his account, even if a frivolous complaint by someone else got it locked temporarily.
Presumably, account management on Twitter in the UK is done in accordance with national laws. But it’s more important that it’s done in accordance with prevailing sentiment about freedom of speech and “hate speech.” The odds are slim that any given account user will actually try to appeal an account management decision to government authorities. Basically, it’s up to Twitter, even where Twitter’s discretion as a private business is not held to be as sacred as it is in the United States. (Which, in European countries, it’s not.)
It’s hard to imagine an account being deleted in the U.S. over the tweets Faisal Hanif posted. Britain is further along on the path of fascist domination of speech and thought. But this little event serves as a signpost to where the U.S. will be, not too many years from now.
Another signpost would be the recent Canadian case in which a jeweler who made rings for a lesbian couple, but nevertheless believes same-sex marriage is wrong, ended up settling with the couple by refunding their money. The two women had received honest value for their money — they’re happy with the rings and have kept them — but that wasn’t enough. They demanded that the jeweler forego his freedom of conscience, as the price of routine commerce: i.e., keeping the money they paid for the rings.
But let’s get back in focus here. A Muslim in Britain had his Twitter account locked and then deleted after he expressed disapproval of same-sex marriage. It looks like the answer to Howard Portnoy’s conundrum is taking shape.