While many consider singling people out for Ebola quarantine a rights violation, singling them out for punishment for alluding to Islamic terrorism is a different story — at least in Great Britain. And 75-year-old retired hairdresser Paul Griffith learned this the hard way at that nation’s Stansted airport while traveling to Malaga, Spain, for a weeklong vacation earlier this year.
Griffith’s problems began after he set off an airport scanner and upon being asked to remove his shoes quipped, “I’m not Muslim, am I?” The Mirror reports on what happened next:
One of the security guards accused Mr Griffith of racism and called police, arguing he was "shocked and unhappy" at the pensioner's remark.
Mr Griffith, of Colchester, Essex, said: "One minute I am queuing up to get on a plane and the next I am confronted by two armed policemen. They said I had used racist language and took me to an office in the terminal.
I was quizzed for an hour and told I was free to catch my flight but had to report back to police as soon as I returned to the UK.”
Upon returning, Griffith learned he’d been criminally charged with causing “racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.” Like many other Western nations, the U.K. has “hate speech” laws, and its citizens are sometimes arrested on what’s colloquially known as a “racism charge.” And then they may have to endure an ordeal such as Griffith’s. The Daily Mail outlines it, writing:
‘When I got back I had to wait six hours before they interviewed me again, arrested me and said that I was being charged with causing racially aggravated harassment’ [Griffith explained].
‘I was photographed, had my finger prints taken and they also took a DNA swab from my mouth. Then they said I would have to go to my local police station.
When I went to Colchester police station I was told I had been charged with an offence under the Crime and Disorder Act but that I could accept a caution instead.
I refused to do that — I had done nothing wrong and I wasn’t going to admit to a criminal charge if I wasn’t guilty of any crime.’
Yet Griffith’s case has a happy ending — sort of. Breitbart reports on its conclusion:
[H]is case was scheduled before Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court where he pleaded not guilty to the charge. His case was adjourned by the Magistrates and was due to be heard last Thursday, but with just 24 hours to go the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charge, as they conceded that there was not enough evidence to mount a case.
“I have never fallen foul of the law before and the whole affair has been a complete waste of police time, the court’s time, my time as well as taxpayers’ money. It has been incredibly stressful — all because I asked a question and apparently dared to use the M word,” Mr Griffith said.
In addition, Griffith says he had a heart attack and had to spend more than £1,500 in legal fees during the six months he waited for the disposition of his case.
If you think this sounds a bit Orwellian, David Jones, creator of a popular children’s character named “Fireman Sam,” concurs. “Something like George Orwell’s 1984 now seems to have arrived in Gatwick airport,” said the 67-year-old in 2012, after having an experience much like Griffith’s.
In February of that year, Jones was going through security at U.K.’s Gatwick airport so he could board a British Airways flight to Portugal, where he now lives and runs a restaurant. And then, writes the Telegraph’s Jason Lewis, the following transpired:
Placing his belongings, including a scarf, into a tray to pass through the X-ray scanner he spotted a Muslim woman in hijab pass through the area without showing her face.
In a light-hearted aside to a security official who had been assisting him, he said: “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen.”
What happened was that Jones was accused of racism and detained for an hour while officials tried to browbeat him into apologizing. And while the security guard he made his comment to appeared sympathetic, stating “I know what you mean, but we have our rules, and you aren’t allowed to say that,” this wasn’t the case with a female security guard who confronted him later. “She took my passport and boarding pass and I was then escorted back through the security zone into the outer area. Here the female security guard proceeded to question me further, inferring many things that I had not said. It was impossible to get her to listen to reason. We were then joined by a second female security guard who stated that she was Muslim and was deeply distressed by my comment,” Lewis reports Jones as saying.
The security guard said that while Jones wasn’t going to be charged with a crime, he wouldn’t be allowed to leave until he apologized to the Muslim guard. Eventually a British Airways duty manager was called to the scene, and later a police officer arrived at Jones’ request. Both officials took a politically correct stance, and, with his flight’s departure time fast approaching, Jones agreed to a compromise wherein he acknowledged that his comment “‘could’ be considered offensive by a Muslim guard,” writes Lewis.
But this doesn’t mean Jones believed he was wrong. As he put it, “I felt that I made a logical observation. That while everyone was being subjected to an invasive search it was illogical that someone should be let through with their face covered. I am not opposed to having this level of security, but it must be equal for all.”
Under hate-speech law, however, some are definitely more equal than others. And it isn’t just in Britain. Here’s a short list of other cases in which political incorrectness brought persecution:
• Canadian man Mark Harding was convicted of hate speech in 1998 after distributing pamphlets critical of Muslims and Islam. His punishment included Islamic indoctrination under Mohammad Ashraf, general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America.
• Saskatchewan resident Hugh Owen, along with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, was ruled guilty of “inciting hatred” after Owen, responding to “Homosexual Pride Week,” took out an ad in the newspaper that included four Bible citations critical of homosexual behavior. Owen was forced to pay $1,500 to each of three homosexual men who filed a complaint against him.
• Swedish Pentecostal Christian pastor Åke Green was sentenced to one month in prison in 2004 after criticizing homosexuality during a sermon. The sentence was later overturned on appeal.
• In 2006, 14-year-old British schoolgirl Codie Stott found herself seated in a discussion group with Pakistani students who proceeded to speak in a foreign language (presumably Urdu). After respectfully asking if she could switch groups because she couldn’t understand, her teacher shouted “It's racist, you're going to get done by the police.” Stott was eventually brought to a police station, arrested, fingerprinted, questioned on suspicion of a “section five racial public order offence,” and placed in a bare jail cell for three-and-a-half hours. She ultimately was released without charge.
• Columnist Mark Steyn and Maclean’s — Canada’s largest news weekly — were charged with hate speech in 2007 after the magazine printed an excerpt from Steyn’s Islam critique America Alone. The case was eventually dismissed.
• Australian parliamentarian Susanne Winter was convicted of “incitement” in 2009 after making statements critical of Islam and Mohammad. She was given a suspended three-month prison sentence and fined $31,000.
Meanwhile, during his Islamic indoctrination, Mark Harding was taught he was a kafir (an infidel) and that such a person has “perverted thoughts and ambitions” and pursues “evil-spelling activities.” This religious status is perhaps why, the first time he entered court for trial, he was confronted by Muslims who shouted “Infidels, you will burn in Hell.” But now, at least, the West is safe from infidel hate speech.