Steven Anderson, pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, was banned from Botswana today, after an hour-long radio interview in which he promoted a very harsh line toward homosexuals. After the interview, Botswana immigration officers escorted him out of the radio station and thence, presumably, out of the country. The Botswana government announced via Twitter that Anderson was now considered a “prohibited immigrant.” Anderson had previously been banned from South Africa.
Anderson, who does not have a college degree, takes positions that I consider extreme and/or ill-informed. He believes in using only the King James Version of the Bible and considers all subsequent English translations corrupted and unreliable. He believes that Old Testament proscriptions and punishments, given to Israel when it was a theocracy, should be enforced by modern governments. He therefore advocates the death penalty for sodomy and adultery.
His comments regarding the Tampa gay nightclub shooting victims were the proximate cause of his being pronounced persona non grata in South Africa two days ago, and in Botswana this morning. In the Botswana radio interview, he described his comments as follows:
"I made it very clear that I do not condone violence, I am a totally non-violent person, and I did not approve of a guy going in there and just shooting up the place. But I said I will not be sad about it, or mourn about it, because the people who were victims were disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says are worthy of death, the Bible said that the government should put them to death, so why would I be sad if these horrible people died, whom the Bible says should die anyway."
Elsewhere in the interview he says, "I do hate homosexuals," and argues that all homosexuals are pedophiles or, at a minimum, incipient pedophiles.
Pastor Anderson seems to be intentionally controversial in his approach to the issue of homosexuality. If one is disposed to give him the benefit of the doubt, it appears that he hopes that the controversy will generate free publicity and thus give him a chance to preach the gospel to more people. I do not agree with Anderson's approach or his views on homosexuality, but I think he should have the right to take his own approach and share his own views. Freedom of speech should be a near-absolute, and it is only speech that people find abhorrent that needs protection. Few governments ever challenge the right to speak soothing words that almost everyone agrees with.
Sadly, the West, including the United States, is rapidly losing its traditional supportive view toward freedom of speech. The undermining of freedom of speech is a major enthusiasm of the academic Left in the West's universities. They don't want to win argument, they want to cancel the argument. But politically incorrect speech, speech that the Left does not like, is being banned not only in college "safe spaces" but also in a growing number of jurisdictions. This is not just, or even particularly, an African problem. Botswana and South Africa, in ejecting Anderson from their countries, are taking their cue from the West, particularly from the United Kingdom, which also banned Pastor Anderson from entry before either South Africa or Botswana banned him.
The Brits quite frequently blacklist people for disapproved speech, often for speaking the truth about Islam, the extreme danger of which Western European elites are in suicidal denial about. Those banned for this reason include Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch, blogger Pamela Geller, Dutch politician Geert Wilders and radio talk show host Michael Savage. This past January, the British Parliament notoriously debated banning Donald Trump from Britain because Trump believes there should be a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration to America from countries that have generated significant Islamic terrorism.
Instead of supporting freedom of speech around the world, Western politicians, businesses, NGOs, political activists, and--surprisingly--even media outlets are pushing the college campus speech code model as the approach to be emulated by Third World governments. Instead of bemoaning the anti-speech implications of Botswana's decision to deport Pastor Anderson, Western media--and not just the gay activist media--are tonight exultant over the decision. If only the Left's contempt for freedom of speech could be limited to Africa. But, alas, it is coming to a town near you.