Free speech, hate speech, and Mr. Eden’s speech

“No person shall be hindered by government in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of conscience. … Freedom of conscience includes freedom of thought and of religion …
“No person shall be hindered by government in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of expression …”
— The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009

Anthony S. Eden, the venerable MLA from Bodden Town, enjoys the constitutionally protected right to free speech, as does each individual who resides in the Cayman Islands. However, as an elected member, Mr. Eden is also sworn to uphold the laws and the Constitution of the Cayman Islands.

This is where the trouble begins.

In August, Mr. Eden spoke to a private members’ motion that reaffirmed language in the Constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. From there, things didn’t just “go downhill,” they plummeted into the fiery pits of Mr. Eden’s rhetorical Hell.

When the sulfurous smoke cleared, we said this about Mr. Eden’s performance: “If the purpose of Mr. Eden’s discriminatory diatribe was to confirm the Cayman Islands’ adherence to Christian values, it failed. Where it succeeded was to put the Cayman Islands back in the international spotlight as an intolerant, homophobic country …”

Nevertheless, while Mr. Eden’s remarks may have been distasteful to some, we would defend his right to utter the words that he did.

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His outburst Wednesday, while it may seem similar to his August remarks, is actually quite different and more troubling.

This time, Mr. Eden didn’t confine his inflammatory statements to the “satanic confusion” of homosexuality, but he targeted attorney James Austin-Smith, declaring, “We do not need an atheist chairing our Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission.”

In this speech, Mr. Eden did more than “double down” on his earlier remarks. He made statements that conflict with Cayman’s Constitution.

Here in Cayman, we have not only freedom of speech; we also have freedom of religion.

When Mr. Eden effectively proposes a “litmus test” for a government-appointed commission, based on religious beliefs or lack thereof, Mr. Eden is being unfaithful to the Constitution.

The Constitution is not a casual manuscript that can be shelved like any old consultancy report. It is the defining document that underpins democracy in this country. It cannot be ignored when convenient.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick acknowledged as much in the aftermath of Mr. Eden’s remarks: “An individual’s religious beliefs are not relevant to whether they can serve on, or perform effectively in, any of Cayman’s Commissions.”

As an individual, Mr. Eden has the right to abominate atheists and castigate people for their sexual persuasions. But once he assumes the mantle of office and speaks on the House floor as a member of parliament, he has an absolute obligation to uphold, support and enforce the Constitution which the people of the Cayman Islands voted to put into place.

Many of Mr. Eden’s colleagues in the Legislative Assembly may disagree with his pronouncements — not that they’d dare say so publicly. Theirs is a silence that is maintained not out of respect for Mr. Eden, but out of reticence that appears based on a political calculation. If Mr. Eden’s words are censured, he may figuratively march out of the Legislative Assembly, followed closely by his elected Bodden Town brethren. The math is inescapable: If Bodden Town withdraws its support from the PPM administration, then the government, as presently constituted, falls.

That truism is reflected in matters ranging from “No Dump in Bodden Town” to the tepid reaction to Minister Osbourne Bodden’s profane “driftwood” remarks to Mr. Eden’s latest verbal adventures.

Mr. Eden believes he answers to a higher authority, and he bases his positions on “Holy Bible evidence.” As an individual, he has that freedom. However, as an elected official — empowered by the Constitution and receiving his salary from the public treasury — Mr. Eden’s highest authority is the secular law of the land.

If Mr. Eden’s personal beliefs do not allow him to reconcile his religious obligations with his official obligations, then he has the freedom to resign from that office — and should promptly do so.

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  1. Mr Eden beliefs should be well known by now, his remarks not exactly politically correct, but to spin a speculative tale that would propose Bodden Town’s elective official political positions in order to highlight the dump, is a push for any lobby. Separation of church and state, Yea-yes.. No god complex with that please, just humble Civil Servant in a position of privilege we the people bestow.

    Mr Manderson, many of your Civil Servants still do not understand the principles of competition and being customer focused. Maybe they will understand better during the re organizational remnants of a hostile business take-over. Wait, it is not called a hostile take-over in Cayman, it is termed sale of government entities.

  2. My comments, as a voter in the Bodden Town district is, that Mr Anthony Eden does not need go through all this political media rhetoric.
    Mr Eden is a humble man with exceptional family values from good upbringing.
    If I was he, I would pick up my coat and step out of the undue stress and back-stabbing that he is getting.
    He does not need to remain in the LA for the money, and can relax attending to his garden, and becoming even closer with the God he serves for the rest of his life. Mr Anthony Eden has privileged many of the ungrateful who have a chair in the LA by carrying them in on his back. He and Kurt Tibbetts has carried too many people, from Bodden Town and George Town to the Legislative assembly and allowed them to have a seat.
    At this point and time of his life, he does not have to reconcile his religious obligations with anyone in the LA. What he need to think about now is, his time left on this earth and what he wants to do with it. Tomorrow can come quickly and who knows what it will bring for any of us. I would not at this stage discourage him from calling it a day. Why stay and have his body physically, and mentally deteriorate because of something he cannot change. Mr Eden it is all about you now, let every man do what he wants to do, and that should apply to even the highest of High on this island.

  3. I do not ever hope to be bias about anyone person, while welcoming the expression of the media in this report that says "Freedom of conscience includes freedom of thoughts and religions".
    After reading this statement; May I refer to paragraph, the third paragraph from the last in this report; which begins; That truism is reflected:

    Should we not look carefully at both of these paragraphs and wonder. First paragraph stating, "No person shall be hindered by Government in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of conscience……."Freedom of conscience includes freedom of thoughts and religions".
    I am trying to put together and study here, did not Mr Osborne Bodden have the "Freedom of conscience and thoughts here"?

  4. Same-sex marriage has been documented in many societies that were not subject to Christian influence. In North American, among the Native American societies, it has taken the form of two-spirit type relationships, in which some members of the tribe elect to take on female gender with all its responsibilities. They are prized as wives by the other men in the tribe, who enter into formal marriages with these two-spirit men.
    In China, especially in the southern province of Fujian where male love was especially cultivated, men would marry youths in elaborate ceremonies. The marriages would last a number of years, at the end of which the elder partner would help the younger find a (female) wife and settle down to raise a family.
    In Africa, among the Azande of the Congo, men would marry youths for whom they had to pay a bride-price to the father. These marriages likewise were understood to be of a temporary nature.
    Finally, in Europe during Hellenic times, the relationships between Greek men and youths who had come of age were analogous to marriage in several aspects. The age of the youth was similar to the age at which women married (the mid-teens), and the relationship could only be undertaken with the consent of the father. This consent, just as in the case of a daughter’s marriage, was contingent on the suitor’s social standing. The relationship, just like a marriage, consisted of very specific social and religious responsibilities, and also had an erotic component. " So gay men married younger men with permission from their father. Then years later they married women.
    Mr. Eden may have a point .

  5. Anthony Eden is a gentleman of unquestioned integrity, a rarity in Cayman politics. He may have expressed his views on sexuality in rather strong terms, but his beliefs are supported by many in the Cayman Islands, a country where religion is a pillar of our society.
    If the editorial staff have such a major problem with this issue then they have the freedom to move elsewhere.

  6. I am sorry, I cannot take these comments seriously until I know they are all from God fearing Christians. For all I know, Roger or Twyla could be atheists. What if I took their words to have weight, then discovered their ungodly ways, how stupid would I look?

  7. I am pretty sick and tired of Jenny Taylor comments! Ms. Taylor are you a Native Caymanian or a paper Caymanian? As a 7 to 9 generation Caymanian I will say this our Island was built on Christian beliefs it is how we survived and how we came together. We have always been welcoming to anyone coming to our Island including gays, Jews, Muslim, Buddhist or any religion. We cannot be compared to any other Country like how Mr. David Miller is comparing us to. We have always been a civilized community so why is it we have to be like every where else when we have always been unique and that is the reason people have always come back to the Cayman Islands. Mr. Eden is a good man with integrity and although his comments were a bit extreme he has every right to defend his Country, his Laws and his people. If same sex couples want to marry then they can travel else where to do so and come back here if they want we are not an un-civilized Country. As for Mr.James Austin-Smith he should resign and allow someone else to take up his position someone that will take on any Human Rights Issue as he has by passed many issues we have had going on here and only seems to be concerned about what affects HIM!

  8. Jenny Taylor, I am not an atheist, neither do I believe Roger is one.
    I can shake my head and my natural "Dred Locks" fall to my knees, I am for real my sister.
    And knowing who Roger Davies is, there is nothing fake or atheist about him that I am aware of, knowing him for almost 20 twenty years.
    So take our words to have weight and you will not look stupid.

  9. I am pretty sick and tired of M Jackson’s comments. Are you claiming that the further back you can trace your lineage back to someone in Cayman the more valid your opinion is?

    I don’t think you can say Cayman has always been welcoming to various minorities, like you suggest. As a 7th to 9th generation Caymanian, you’ll remember the gay cruise ship a few years ago – hardly welcomed with open arms. How about the treatment of Cuban refugees? How about the survey detailing the shockingly high rates of sexual abuse inflicted on young people

    You seem to be getting your opinions mixed up with facts. Eden is not defending ”our” country, laws or people, he is using his parliamentary privilege to sound off about his own opinions, in a way that is an embarrassment to Cayman. Do remember that what you read on this page is not just read by an audience in East End, or West Bay, but all around the world.

  10. Miss Taylor, Did you really mean this:
    "What if I took their words to have weight, then discovered their ungodly ways, how stupid would I look?"
    Are you seriously suggesting that words from a person not sharing your faith are without value simply by virtue of their religious persuasion?
    Well, you know what, you don’t need to worry how stupid you look!

  11. I think some of the commenters below have missed the point of the editorial.

    Everyone in these beautiful islands has the right to their own opinion. I express mine quite often. Some people agree with me, some don’t.

    However an elected official has the obligation to uphold the law and constitution of this land. And the constitution is quite clear that one cannot demand that persons in a government office shall be of a particular or any religion.

  12. @Arthur Rank
    It was not necessary.
    You could be totally misinterpreting her comments.
    Good rule of thumb is to refrain from responding quickly because you’re pissed off or you feel an urgency to respond quickly.

  13. I’m sorry if anyone was offended. I didn’t mean to offend anyones sexual identities. I only quoted same-sex marriage history for thousands of years all over the world. Mary Jackson? if that is your name don’t be afraid to say who you are. We live in a free society no one is going to throw you in jail. At least not since yesterday we are still a christian society which helps to give us these rights. Whether you are right or wrong makes no difference to express yourself. It is your opinion.
    Mr. Eden has a right to say how he feels. He has a right to say he disagrees . Sometimes we forget he represents people who voted for him. There are many who have become Caymanians from other caribbean countries . In their country they would chop you up for just mentioning you are gay isn’t that right?
    For those of you ,who may have missed the gay ship coming to Cayman the first time .They protested hard for all gay people to stop coming to the Cayman Islands because of the placards at the church. We also had another minister say that they should not come back publicly.
    What happened was their behavior , They wore thongs and hugged and kissed each other everywhere they went. It was not accepted. People on the island was outraged.
    So they went to other islands and to Belize if my memory holds. They were met with machetes and axes being struck at the busses as they left the docks. THANK GOD WE DIDN’T GO THAT FAR. They just talk their protests. The Cayman islands have NEVER been physical to any group they don’t believe shouldn’t be allowed here. But we have new Caymanians flouting their feathers. So I would say low profiles work best.

  14. Mr Robertson , I don’t know what bible you are quoting from,but I do not wish to follow, and I don’t think that you should force it on other people, you can believe it. I think that these are some of beliefs and opinions that Mr Eden do not want forced on his Islands and people who he represent .