Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You Can't Ban Hatred

It's true. You can only ban incitement to violence, or something which would cause significant fear of violence. Humans are pretty stupid, hatred will always exist.

We live in a country where there is a right to freedom of speech and expression. We may not like it a lot of the time. I'd rather we closed down News Corporations offices. I'd rather homophobes were mutilated, executed and hung on Tower Bridge as a warning to others. But I understand that in order to live in a free society bigots, nasties and idiots (like me!) must be allowed to talk freely. Similarly their opponents must be allowed to talk back.

The House of Lords amendments to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill were sensible and well considered. This was made especially necessary by the sensitivity needed in dealing with two very emotive subjects: freedom of speech and freedom to live your life in peace. And well done to the House of Commons to have the sense to back their compromise.


"The Commons confrontation followed a series of defeats inflicted on the bill by peers in a bid to safeguard freedom of speech.

The peers said only "threatening words" should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting.

They also called for the offence to be intentional and specified that proselytising, discussion, criticism, insult, abuse and ridicule of religion, belief or religious practice would not be an offence."

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