Freedom Folks

Thursday, March 08, 2007

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Source: Secular Society

The head of Britain's 'Secular Society' gives a rousing defense of free speech here...
"But now blasphemy has a new cloak. Its new name is "respect". We are told that our freedom of speech - so precious, so hard-won - must now be curtailed in the name of "respect". Respect for religion, respect for gods and prophets that many in Europe discarded years ago. Already artists are on the front line. The Danish cartoon saga is well known to all of you, so there is no need to repeat the details - except to say that the cartoonists and the newspapers involved have been threatened with death, all in the name of "respect". But doesn't respect work both ways? Aren't the grand traditions of open democracy, free expression, the unfettered right of artists to say what is in their minds, also worthy of respect?...Satire? Humour? Mockery? How important these traits are when tyranny is on the march, and how easily we are persuaded to give them up when their subjects claim "offence" or demand "respect"...As Europe becomes an increasingly multicultural continent, religion must grow up. It must join debate. It must not - not ever - be allowed to silence its critics and its mockers using the law.If we do not call a halt to these demands now, we risk putting all that we treasure in our culture at risk...There is a growing clamour for Europe-wide or even worldwide laws to respect religion. But I ask legislators here to think twice before taking such a step. Such laws are likely to be unpopular. The UK Government has tried to impose a religious hatred law, allegedly to mollify the Muslim community, but the law was widely thought to be inimical to freedom of expression. Despite Tony Blair's substantial majority, the measures were defeated three times in five years. The law is now on the statute book, but only with comprehensive freedom of speech safeguards that his Government bitterly opposed...it is not religious sensitivities that need protecting, however, it is freedom of expression. And if there is to be any internationally imposed legislation on this topic it should be to reduce restrictions on freedom of expression, rather than create another tier of censorship that will frighten commentators and artists from raising controversial matters. Self censorship is a big danger here. Such matters are only resolved through healthy debate...It is not religious sensitivities that need protecting, however, it is freedom of expression. And if there is to be any internationally imposed legislation on this topic it should be to reduce restrictions on freedom of expression, rather than create another tier of censorship that will frighten commentators and artists from raising controversial matters. Self censorship is a big danger here. Such matters are only resolved through healthy debate. Freedom of expression is, I believe, the main bulwark of democracy. If we take it away, or simply fail adequately to protect it, we remove the means to safeguard the other democratic freedoms."
Just so, as I wrote recently it is the difference between respecting religion and observing religion that seems to be confusing people these days. I may have all the respect in the world for another man's religion without in any way observing that religion. Now, when he seeks to impose his religion on me in the public square, that is where we have a problem.

Muslims in Britain and America are not seeking to respect of their religion here, nope, they are seeking submission to, and that's a horse of an entirely different character. If they, like the Muslim cabbies in Minneapolis, are uncomfortable in a free Western society they find themselves in an enviable position, they are more than welcome to leave at any point.

In fact, I genuinely hope the door doesn't hit them in the ass on the way out.

H/T The Pub Philosopher via NRO

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