Friday, 21 October 2005

"Compromise" on religious hatred law

Some opponents of the proposed legislation outlawing religious hatred have outlined a compromise plan, which may permit the ability to ridicule religion.

Among the proposed safeguards are:

1) - Nobody can be found guilty of new religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred.

2) - Only threatening words should be banned by the bill, not those which are abusive or insulting.

3) - There should be a specific part of the bill saying the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.

I feel this "religious hatred" bill is simply another instance of New Labour's gross illiberalism.

Religion is not an intrinsic trait. Spirtiuality may be, but the two things aren't synonymous. One can freely choose to adopt, follow or denounce a religion. One cannot adopt or denounce a race or gender.

Evidently, this is also an attack on freedom of expression. If someone gets "offended" because their religion is being mocked, then this is tough. Such an act doesn't violate others' rights to the person or property. If anything, one can dismiss such speech as foolish or irrelevant, or use their own right to freedom of expression to counter and refute such comments.

In regards to freedom of expression, I don't believe such a right should be total (as some other libertarians might). Most would state it's wrong to shout "fire!" in a crowded theatre. Even still, I believe laws against defamation (libel and slander) should exist. People shouldn't really possess the right to damage others' lives by stating falsehoods about others. It's not really a decent act, IMO.