There are many and varied reasons for being against a law that defines religious hatred as equal to racial hatred, if only the fact that it could make it difficult to have any debate about any religion whatsoever for fear of being accused of “inciting hatred”.
BUt I’m finding myself falling into agrrement with the legislators, if only because of my problems with the counter arguments
David Davis (shadow home sec); “Religion, unlike race, is a matter of personal choice, and therefore appropriate for open debate.”
Ick. “personal choice” puts us back into the supermarket of spirituality. It doesn’t feel like a choice…
But most odious of all, well….
Oh right, since the government have confirmed that it would also make it illegal to stir up hatred against pagans, witches and atheists for being pagans, witches or atheists, it is by definition bad and wrong.
In fact, it makes me wonder who was planted to “ask about atheists, pagans and satanists.” None of the papers want to own up.
It’s not as much a problem here as in the US, I think, but I, for one, would be more comfortable advertising my move towards druidry if I could be sure that if someone erected a sign outside my house saying “tree-fucker go home”, or instigated a hate campaign in the local paper against my sitting under my own tree and meditating, I had some sort of recourse to law.
I can only see this as a wilfull misreading of the law as proposed: much play is being made of the human sacrifice cult apparently making inroads in Britain, or that we won’t be able to mock the practices of yogic fliers, or brainwashing cults. Yet the law does not say we cannot condemn those that murder, brainwash, or campaign on behalf of David Icke. It does not even prevent you condeming them for promoting such things. It makes it illegal to engender hatred on religious grounds. Does condemnation of murder amount to incitement of hatred? Does ridicule of David Icke’s frankly bats arse ideas count?
Looking at how many prosecutions the incitement to racial hatred bill has led to (I think it’s 44 in 14 years, of which I believe not one was Jim Davidson, nor Bernard Manning, nor Roy Chubby Brown, free speech lovers), I don’t see how this legislation, if built along the same lines, could stop The Life of Brian, or Last Temptation, or the Vicar of Dibley being made, or indeed The Da Vinci Code being published.
It may, however, lead to me cancelling my line of misprinted t-shirts “If you see a buddhist on the road, strike him down.”
Now, if we could lever this legislation into replacing the blasphemy laws, that would be something. These laws truly privelige a small subset of religions, and by their very nature infringe speech that can only be trul;y harmful to a transcendendant being, whom one assumes can look after himself.
But as goes incitement to religious hatred being a crime… why stop at religious hatred? Why not make incitement to hatred a crime? Isn’t this already covered in incitement to violence?