The British government, it seems, is proposing a bill which creates a new Serious and Organised Crime Agency to tackle drug trafficking, people smuggling and criminal gangs. That, in itself, is pretty good, no problems there. However, another part of the bill will create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred to protect faith groups, particularly Muslims, from attack.
Atkinson spoke out on this point (backed by a group of writers, MPs and the National Secular Society), saying that are already enough laws to deal with such extremists. He added: "To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. A law which attempts to say you can criticise and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed." He said he had sympathy with the law's backers, particular British Muslims, but added: "I appreciate this measure is an attempt to provide comfort and protection to them. But unfortunately it is wholly inappropriate response far more likely to promote tension between communities than tolerance."
Man, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see someone actually understand things. Understanding that the key to stopping these sort of hate crimes is NOT suppressing the speech but getting people to understand things...moderation, tolerance, you know the drill. When you make it a crime to say something, all you end up with is more criminals.
In the midst of the violence that is human society, every now and then I see someone who might actually be rising above it all, trying to enlighten the masses. It's ESPECIALLY wonderful when it's someone in a position to make a difference, a celebrity, someone who can actually get others to listen to them. Rowen, you rock.
*Much thanks to royhuggins for the link*