The George Washington University Law School academic noted that while Finland was recently once again rated as "the happiest place to live," it's not the place to be if you value freedom of speech, noting that a major free speech case is percolating there following the filing of criminal charges against Member of Parliament and former Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen.
Her 'crime'? Quoting the Bible to voice her opposition to her church's sponsorship of an LGBTQ "pride" event. The 61-year-old MP is now reportedly facing up to two years behind bars for simply exercising her free speech and freedom of religion rights.
On June 17, 2019, Räsänen asked in a Twitter post how the sponsorship was compatible with the Bible, linking to a photograph of a biblical passage, Romans 1:24-27, on Instagram. She also posted the text and image on Facebook. However, she also insisted that “The purpose [of] my tweet was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the church.”
The Prosecutor General charged Räsänen with incitement against a minority group, arguing that her statements were “likely to cause intolerance, contempt, and hatred towards homosexuals.”
But Räsänen has not backed down, standing firm on her rights to freedom of speech.
“I cannot accept that voicing my religious beliefs could mean imprisonment. I do not consider myself guilty of threatening, slandering, or insulting anyone. My statements were all based on the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexuality," she said.
"I will defend my right to confess my faith, so that no one else would be deprived of their right to freedom of religion and speech," she continued.
"I hold on to the view that my expressions are legal and they should not be censored. I will not back down from my views. I will not be intimidated into hiding my faith. The more Christians keep silent on controversial themes, the narrower the space for freedom of speech gets," Räsänen adds.
In his assessment of this outrage, Turley noted that throughout Western governments, especially in France, there has been an "alarming rollback" of speech rights, mostly under the guise of 'combatting hate speech' and 'non-discrimination laws,' both of which are really just used by the woke, intolerant left to silence criticism of aberrant lifestyles.
He noted earlier that he wrote about the prosecution of famous French actress Brigitte Bardot after she said in 2006 that Muslims were ruining her country in a letter to Nicolas Sarkozy, then-Interior Minister and later France's president.
"Bardot, an animal rights activist, has been repeatedly hit with such criminal complaints for criticizing different groups. Now she was later fined for calling the inhabitants of La Reunion 'savages' for their continued sacrificing of animals in religious rituals," Turley wrote.
And though he said that he disagreed with Räsänen's views on homosexuality, because Turley is a constitutionalist first and a liberal second he also disagrees with Finland's persecution of her simply for holding a certain viewpoint.
"I happen to disagree with her views on homosexuality but that is immaterial. Many of us in the free speech community view this as a human right to be able to express one’s values and beliefs without threat of arrest. In the name of equity, Finland is sacrificing liberty. In the name of tolerance, Finland is declaring intolerance for opposing views," Turley said, pointing out the same hypocrisy American leftists engage in when shutting down the speech of conservatives.
"No such tradeoff is necessary. Political opponents can respond to what they view as bad speech with better speech," he continued.
"In the free expression of ideas, people can reach their own conclusions and better viewpoints can prevail. Instead, in cases like the one involving Räsänen, critics are seeking to silence those with opposing viewpoints. It is a new orthodoxy imposed on dissenting views — the same state-supported intolerance that once led to the censuring of gay activists and advocates for LGBT rights," Turley adds.
If our country's liberal academics were truly liberal in the historic sense, they would all echo Turley's views: You can disagree with someone else's opinion but in a free society you can't be allowed to persecute them for it.