01 February 2006

The right decision on religious hatred bill.

As I predicted here, the new bill passed with the necessary amendments to protect free speech. As Rowan Atkinson explains;

"Those who seek to threaten religious communities will know that such behaviour has now been outlawed and those who have sought to retain the right to criticise and ridicule religious beliefs and practices now have those rights enshrined in legislation in a manner never previously achieved. With it, it seems to me, everybody wins,".

The government can shrug its shoulders to the Muslim community and say 'look, we tried', while at the same time they have got themselves off the hook, from having to implement an unworkable, undemocratic bill.

It sure ain't pretty, but it is good for democracy. Of course the opposition parties and the media are championing the 'divided government' line, but that is boring and frankly ridiculous. I'm sure it will win them a few votes, but what really matters is policy, and by hook or by crook we got the right result in the end and democracy is the winner. Well done those Labour MPs!


  1. Well, I hope you'll feel suitably afraid and chilled in your outbursts against religion (well against that textual fundamentalist form of seethingly Low Church Protestantism you conflate therewith) and treat those of faith with a little more respect.

    Have you checked out whether private criminal prosecutions have been prevented for the new offences, or has New Labour introduced another political crime for which you can only be found guilty if the government of the day actively supports your prosecution?

  2. Why is it that these people who talk about New Labour political thought-crime can never bring themselves to put their names to their nonsense?

    Frankly, Neil, I think this result wasn't a good one at all. The Government put forward a perfectly reasonable guarantee of freedom of speech, which explicitly stated that no-one who was evangelising, or proselytising, or criticising, or satirising religion would be caught under the new offence. The rebellion looks oppportunist to me, especially when you consider those involved. This was a runaround by the Socialist Campaign Group, who saw that the Chief Whip had ballsed up and decided to give Blair a bloody nose.

    The bare fact of the matter is now that you can be threatening and intend to stir up religious hatred and be prosecuted, but you can be abusive and insulting, intending to stir up religious hatred and *not* be prosecuted. It's a ridiculous state of affairs.

  3. Rob, I think the problem is how you accertain intent. The bill was confusing. If you are threatening, it is obviously an intent to stir up hatred, whereas for example, people have found my views criticising religion insulting, but in no way do I want to stir up hatred.

    Look at how people have been insulted by these innocuous cartoons of Mohammed recently published in a Danish newspaper. I could see that going to court under the bill that was originally proposed.

    The funny thing is trying to suppress freedom of speech is counter-productive. More people will view these cartoons of Muhammed than would ever have done if the Muslim leaders hadn't made such a fuss about it.

    I think EVERY newspaper in Europe should publish the cartoons on their front page, just to demonstrate we are one in defending free speech. This just goes to show what a danger religions are that papers in the UK like the Guardian etc, are too scared to publish them. This is as bad as Dilpazier Aslam being hounded out of his job.