First, the bigots. Head honchos from the British National Party (right), kind of like NZ First with steroids and streetfighters, have been acquitted on charges of "stirring up racial hatred," not because they didn't try to stir up racial hatred -- "Let's show these ethnics the door in 2004," said one -- but because the judge hearing the case has a laudable but increasingly unfashionable respect for free speech:
Summing up, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones, QC, said: "This case is not about whether the political beliefs of the BNP are right or wrong. It's not about whether assertions made about Islam are right or wrong."Exactly right. Bravo Judge Jones! If you have no right to offend, then you have no right to free speech. So what's the problem? The problem is Gordon Brown. If the current laws don't allow a conviction, and they're chilling enough, then PM-in-waiting Gordon Brown suggests changing the laws to make them even more suffocating. Chilling indeed.
He added: "We live in a democratic society which jealously protects the rights of its citizens to freedom of expression, to free speech. It extends to the unpopular, to those which many people may find unacceptable, unpalatable and sensitive."
And what of the burka ban? There is a difference, one that sadly escapes too many, between between being outraged by something (as I posted here: "Cultures are not of equal value: prosperity is superior to poverty, happiness is superior to misery, freedom is superior to slavery, and a visible face is superior to a slit revealing two anonymous eyes") and calling for that thing to be banned. The two things do not relate. As Phil concludes:
It will be impossible to mount a principled defense of Western civilization unless its defenders understand the Western principles of individual rights and tolerance.And he's right, isn't he. You have a right to offend. You have a right to wear what you want. And we all have the right to disagree on that. But you have no right -- none at all -- have that with which you disagree banned.
LINKS: Islam, anti-Islam and freedom - Pacific Empire
BNP verdict ‘may change race laws’ -- Scotsman
Burka ban in the Netherlands? --FP Passport
Free Speech glossary -- Free Speech
The dance of the long black veil - Not PC (October, 2006)
RELATED: Politics-UK, Multiculturalism, Religion, Political Correctness, Politics-World, Free Speech