Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hate all Religions! Now!

Go on! Hate them I say!

(just thought I'd get some last-minute incitement in)

Here in the UK there's a plan to pass a law against incitement to religious hatred. Now, I think it's a very bad idea to legislate these things. But those who wish to introduce this can make some very powerful arguments in their favour, and I've yet to really hear someone successfully argue against them. So, as Devil's Advocate, let me make the case for this law...
  • Currently in the UK, Christians can claim protection from "incitement to hatred" (under the blasphemy laws) and Jews can claim protection under the incitement to racial hatred laws (as can Sikhs). Now it's true to say that Islam is not being singled out... Buddhists and Pagans don't get protection either. However, it's also true to say that in the current cultural context, Moslems might feel that they are being treated unequally under the law, and - at least in some senses - they are right to feel that.
  • The claims that this law will abrogate "Free Speech" were made prior to the introduction of the incitement to racial hatred legislation. Bernard Manning and his ilk still ply their trade. The BNP still exists and still campaigns vigourously (much to the dismay of many). The law ended up giving ethnic minorities a weapon to use against extremists; it didn't stop Jim Davidson from making dreadful television or performing to packed houses of meatheads (so arguably it didn't go far enough)
In other words, the current legal framework arguably discriminates against moslems - given the current political and cultural situation (i.e. there isn't a widespread attempt to demonise Buddhism in certain areas of the media). And that's a situation which must surely be addressed, in the name of defusing intercommunity tension if not for the basic fairness of the thing. It seems very unlikely that we will repeal the racial incitement and blasphemy laws, so this is the only practical method of redressing the balance. And those worried that the law will limit free speech will have to demonstrate how the racial incitement laws have done so (at least to the detriment of society).

Let me reiterate that I'm playing Devil's Advocate here... I oppose the law. But I oppose it on the basis that religions are ultimately a set of beliefs that 95% of us in Western Europe can choose to retain or abandon once we reach adulthood. Therefore they should get no more protection from the law than the belief that the world is ruled by a talking marshallow called Gerald who lives in a shed in Preston.

(A less absurd belief system, I would argue, than Islam, Christianity or Judaism.)

But that opinion is unlikely to be very representative.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that Satanism is now a recognised religion in the UK, in that a member of the Royal Navy won the right to practice his religion on board HMS Cumberland (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3948329.stm), does this not open up a wonderful can of worms in that a Satanist could legitimately bring a prosecution against a Christian for inciting religious hatred against him and his religion?

Joel

12/6/05 01:30  
Blogger L said...

"the world is ruled by a talking marshallow called Gerald who lives in a shed in Preston"

now that sounds like a religion I can live with

Joel brings up a very amusing idea...

12/6/05 06:19  
Anonymous HonkyDoreen said...

Joel -

True enough. Funny too. But poignant.

Printed material is of course 'speech', and there are plenty of Bibles and Korans in this country, both of which include incitement of violence/death towards believers of other religions, not to mention unbelievers.

Shall we be burning books? You see where this is going....

13/6/05 09:59  
Blogger Freedom said...

The best way..stop all religion...no more war...

don

18/6/05 20:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A more feeling and religiously unbiased opinion was refreshing to find on the t'internet but being a apathetic despiser of any faith could I just say fuck Gerald, marshmallows and Preston....oh and all your gods,prophets etc, etc........ Love and kisses, me

25/5/06 23:52  

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