The Legion of Mary society was a newly established society in NUI Galway which was suspended following the distribution of the following homophobic posters.
Following the suspension there were protests from both the right and left claiming the suspension was censorship and anti-Catholic; it was neither.
To call the suspension censorship is to completely misuse the term. The students involved were not suspended from the university nor are they banished from expressing their opinions on homosexuality via their own means. All that happened was the university (the Societies Office in actually) removed their sponsorship from the Legion of Mary society. This is completely different from censorship, the Societies Office is under no obligation to financially sponsor every opinion from every student. In fact, they have a duty of care to defend the equality and esteem of students, something the posters were in violation of. For example, if a student group wanted to distribute sexist or racist material then I would hope and expect the Societies Office to intervene and remove their financial backing also. Censorship would be quite different, it would involve removing the students and barring them from expressing their opinions in any and all media.
Secondly, free speech is not an absolute. We have and need limits on free speech and we accept these in many facets of society. Free speech allows us to freely critique and discuss ideas, concepts, ideologies, philosophies etc. However, we limit free speech to prevent people from being attacked based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or any other innate characteristic of an individual. This allows people to live free from harassment and discrimination. And that is what the above poster did, it targeted persons based on their sexual orientation and inferred they were innately flawed. It suggested suppressing their sexuality and encouraged them to contact a group called Courage for “counseling”. But it doesn’t take long to discover that Courage promotes and engages in reparative therapy. Reparative therapy propagates the lie that homosexuality is simply a choice and can be changed through therapy. The dangers of reparative therapy are well known and can be psychological damaging for those who undergo it. So by suspending the Legion of Mary Society, the Societies Office isn’t simply protecting students from unfair targeting of their sexuality but also against possible psychological damage. So if the suspension of the society is a limit on free speech, it is a perfectly acceptable limiting.
To further drive this point home I will proffer other examples where an innate characteristic of an individual is targeted as somehow defective and a change suggested. These are obviously hypothetical and not my opinion, some of which I robbed from the good people of Twitter.
“Don’t call me black” contact XXXXX to help to stop acting and looking black with skin-whitening.
“Don’t call me a woman, I am a wife” contact XXXXX so you can learn how to leave the independent work force and become a good housewife and fulfill your potential.
“Don’t call me religious, suppress your desires to worship” contact XXXXX and we can access the psychological defect which leads you to believe.
“Don’t call me straight” contact XXXXX and we will encourage to access your inner homosexual. (Could you imagine the uproar if people suggested this from the same people who think reparative therapy is ok!!)
In essence, we would not allow any of these and there would not even be a question about it. The reason is because we’ve had those conversations and we know it is entirely wrong to target somebody sex, race etc. and suggest there is something wrong or defective about those innate qualities. However, some on both the left and right think it is perfectly acceptable and within the realms of free speech to suggest there is something inferior about homosexuality but not race or gender. If you are one of these people then there is a strong possibility you are a homophobe. Homosexuals deserve the same protections from the limiting of free speech as everybody else.
This is simpler. It is not anti-Catholic or anti-Christian. It is anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and, more importantly, pro-equality. Catholicism has homophobic beliefs and simply because society does not conform to these beliefs does not mean it is hostile to Catholics. If people want to play the anti card then they are in for some unfortunate consequences to their logic. The recent fight to ban segregated seating in UK universities will be labelled as anti-Muslim as opposed to pro-woman. The fight against apartheid was anti-white instead of pro-black. The threat to remove religious tax exemption from the Mormon Church because of their racist attitude was anti-Mormon rather than pro-black. If you want to play the anti game then you must accept all these too, it’s as simple as that.