MediaWatchWatch suggests it would be a blow to free speech if Taylor was convicted, saying:
"The fact that this case has gone to court is bad enough, but if Taylor gets prosecuted then it surely won’t be long before the Archangel Gabriel blows his horn and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come galloping down a street near you."I thought I'd blog about this myself, as I'm really not convinced that this is a free speech issue. I'm just not sure the right to criticise, satirise, ridicule and insult religious belief should really extend to deliberately putting cartoons of pigs excreting sausages labelled Qu'ran (one of several Taylor left) in a room where adherents to a religion go to quietly, and privately, practise their faith. And not only do it once, but on three separate occassions. I think there's certainly a case for saying that the aim of that it is to "harass, alarm or distress" religious believers by making them feel uncomfortable in an environment where they have gone precisely to be able to feel comfortable practising their faith in a busy public building.
Here, in case you're wondering, is Mr Taylor's justification for what he did:
"The airport is named after John Lennon and his views on religion were pretty much the same as mine. I thought that it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in the airport."He says that in placing the cartoons he was just practising his own religion of "reason and rationality", which is certainly a new way of looking at rationality.
Ultimately, I'm not sure what I think with this. If free speech has its limits at the point where it becomes something like harassment, surely Taylor's behaviour was fairly close to that line? But at the same time, it hardly seems like something worthy of a jail sentence. Certainly at the age of 59 he should have known better (and for that matter have better things to be doing with his time). If he had an objection to the airport prayer room on account of his own "religion of reason and rationality", why didn't he express it rationally and write a letter?
I'm opening this one to the floor.