Atheist faces jail for leaving cartoons in prayer room
A 59-year-old philosophy tutor, whom the Liverpool Daily Post describes as a “militant atheist”, is currently on trial charged with three counts of religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act.
Harry Taylor had left a series of cartoons in the multi-faith prayer room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on three occasions in 2008. When the airport chaplain, Nicky Lees, found them she was so alarmed that she phoned the police.
I was insulted, deeply offended and I was alarmed. I was so concerned that I rang the duty manager and the airport police. I was alarmed other people could come in and see these items and also feel offended and affronted and I was responsible for the prayer room.
Taylor said he was just practising his own religion of reason and rationality.
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.
The cartoons he left included Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of “no nails” glue, drawing of the Pope with a condom on his finger, and a picture of a woman kneeling in front of a Catholic priest with the caption “No, no my child, blow is just a figure of speech”, A Dangerous Book For Boys with reference to the Qur’an, two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption “Not for women or gays, obviously”, a pig excreting sausages labelled “The Qu’ran”, and the Danish Motoon with the suicide bomber arriving in heaven (pictured).
The prosecutor had some weaselly freedom-of-speech-BUT words for the jury:
People have the right to insult people, it is a most important right in this country.
Freedom of speech is one of the most jealously-guarded rights, but it is not without prescription and the crown say he went beyond freedom of speech.
You as jurors are the conscience of our society. You must decide what you are prepared to put up with and what goes beyond reasonable bounds.
You are 12 tolerant British people and know what freedom of speech is all about.
I wouldn’t bet on it. Every one of the jurors swore on the Bible.
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.
UPDATE: (4 March) He was found guilty by unanimous verdict. He will be sentenced on April 23rd.