Like mixed martial arts or MMA, boxing isn’t a subject we normally talk about, but sometimes it can’t be helped. But this isn’t about anything that happened inside the ring; it’s about something that happened outside of it.
On November 28, Tyson Fury—yes, that really is his name—of Great Britain defeated Wladimir Klitschko to claim the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. Fury is 6’ 9” and weighs 260 pounds, and is only the second British heavyweight champion since 1899.
His celebration, however, was short lived. Recently, it was announced that Fury is the subject of a criminal investigation. Now, sadly, being under criminal investigation is not that unusual for a professional athlete, as any NFL fan can tell you.
What makes Fury’s case unusual is the “crime” he is being investigated for isn’t spousal abuse or drugs. It’s hate speech.
Greater Manchester Police are investigating comments Fury made to the UK’s Daily Mail just prior to his fight with Klitschko. He told the paper that “‘we live in an evil world . . . The devil is very strong at the minute, very strong, and I believe the end is near.”
Then he continued “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s pedophilia. Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalized?
“When I say pedophiles can be made legal,” he continued, “that sounds like crazy talk doesn’t it? But back in the 50s and early 60s, for them first two to be made legal would have been looked on as a crazy man again.”
Now it’s not the most articulate theology, but if you’re wondering “where is the crime?” you’re not alone. Chuck Colson, Eric Metaxas and I have each, on BreakPoint and elsewhere, said similar things about the moral slippery slope that we’re clearly on.
But apparently Fury’s words crossed some line for the Greater Manchester Police who issued a statement that it takes “every allegation of hate crime extremely seriously and we will be attending the victim’s address to take a statement in due course.”
The “victim” in this case was a person who read the article and was offended by what Fury said.
Now, let’s be clear: I’m not about to nominate Fury for the Wilberforce Award. He’s said things about women that offend me.
But there is something fully disordered about the British police, and public, getting so bent out of shape at Fury’s words as to consider charging him with a crime.
Less than two months ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a program to prevent radicalization of young British Muslims. This is hardly a theoretical concern. The July 7, 2005, subway attacks were perpetrated by radicalized British-born Muslims. More recently, hundreds of British Muslims have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Isis, most infamously “Jihadi John.”
Yet Cameron was compared to Joseph McCarthy and accused of violating “British values.”
Then there’s Anjem Choudary, a British-born lawyer and founder of a banned terrorist group. For the better part of two decades he lent verbal support to Islamist terrorism both inside and outside of Britain. And speech doesn’t get more “hateful” than the things he said about Christians, Jews, gays, and even Shiite Muslims.
Yet he was allowed to say pretty much anything he wanted for nearly fifteen years before being charged, not with hate speech, but with supporting ISIS. In contrast, Fury was under investigation for “hate speech” within a few days of the Daily Mail interview being published.
The obvious question is: can it happen here? Given the First Amendment, I don’t expect to be charged with “hate speech.” But there are plenty of other subtle, and effective, attempts to silence those who question the Sexual Revolution and point out its disastrous consequences.
So our challenge will be to stand tall for what we know to be true, even if we’re nowhere near 6 foot 9.
— by John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint. Copyright© 2015 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.