Challenged in Parliament about why criticism of Christianity is taken for granted while criticism of Islam embroils one in societal (and legal) difficulties, British Prime Minister Theresa May answered:
We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country. That is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy. But we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues that we’ve looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the government has produced. I think we need to ensure that, yes, it is right that people can have that freedom of expression. But in doing so, that right has a responsibility, too. And that is a responsibility to recognize the importance of tolerance to others.
This heralds the end of the freedom of speech in Britain, for May’s statement is flatly self-contradictory. Who will decide whether one’s criticism of Islam has shaded over into becoming “intolerant”? Presumably the police or some governing authorities. But the freedom of speech is designed precisely to protect people from being prosecuted or persecuted by the governing authorities because their speech dissents from the accepted line. It was developed as a safeguard against tyranny.
By introducing this massive exception, May is turning the freedom of speech on its head and emptying it of all meaning. She is also implying that the British government will now be bringing the full force of the law against those who are deemed intolerant, and indeed, that has already begun.