"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Jan 21, 2009

Geert Wilders - Religion is not Race

Amsterdam's appeals court today ruled that the Dutch right wing MP Geert Wilders should be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred. The ruling relates to a 2008 film called Fitna that Wilders made which suggested that the Q'uran is essentially a manifesto for violence.

The film contains quotations from the Q'uran which are set against images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and it compares Islam to Fascism and likens the Q'uran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.

The problem with this decision is that it profoundly mistakes the criticism of ideas and beliefs with the criticism of people based on race or ethnicity.

Islam, like most religions, claims not to be associated with a particular race or ethnicity and indeed it is not. There are Islamic believers all around the world, in Africa, in the Middle east and throughout Asia. There are white western adherents of the Islamic religion. Racial or Ethnic identity is not an identifying feature of Islam.

On this count alone the decision by the Dutch appeals court seems entirely perverse and illogical.

Criticism of ideas and beliefs is part of the price we pay for having an open and developing society. There is a market place of ideas and all ideas are subject to robust and sometimes harsh scrutiny. Protecting Islam or any other religion, or indeed Atheism from such harsh debate makes no more sense that ruling that the ideas, beliefs and manifesto of a political party should be protected from harsh scrutiny.

It is in the process of such fierce debate that our society progresses. The problem in this society is that there are those who are prepared to subject others beliefs and actions to such harsh criticism but who want their own beliefs and actions protected.

Take Islam for example. It is not uncommon for Islamic preachers ( and even Christian preachers) to moralise harshly about matters such as abortion and sexual behaviour and attitudes. They may do this fiercely and harshly. Religious believers have accused those involved in abortion of murder. Islamic preachers have denounced what they see as the lax sexual standards in the West and have done so in the harshest language.

If criticism of Islam is tantamount to incitement to racial hatred then most surely so is such preaching.

But we should defend the right of people to say such things whether we agree with them or not. On the matter of belief and the conduct of our affairs we have a right of reply, as religious believers or non-believers.

There should be no protection against criticism of political beliefs and manifestos or of religious beliefs and creeds. There should be no protection against the harsh criticism of those who profess no religious belief.

Non of this is incitement to racial hatred because such beliefs systems are never exclusive to any race or ethnic group. People are free to change their beliefs or to argue in defense of them.

The test of incitement to hatred in this area needs to be much more serious and should in effect amount to a test of incitement to violence. The question should not be whether the actions in question caused people to hate the beliefs or actions that are being criticised. The question should if the actions in question cause people to hate and incite violence towards those who hold those beliefs.

On abortion for example, some Christians may wish to criticise abortion and the belief that abortion is right, in the harshest terms. They should be able to do so. However when they stray into inciting or encouraging acts of retribution, violence or discrimination against people who believe in abortion then this should be a matter which concerns the courts.

This same approach is appropriate whether the issue is gay marriage, the atheist belief that religions are harmful, or suggestions that right wing Christianity is a perverse and selfish belief system.

It is not fierce criticism that should concern the courts but the issue of whether such criticism is intended or has the effect of promoting violence to those who hold those beliefs.

Free speech is the double edged sword that we use to guard our liberty. It protects the rights of the religious, the non-religious, the right and the left to have their say and to argue for their cause. This is as it should be. All become equally open to debate and criticism. Closing down free speech can imperil us all.

The decision is therefore not only illogical but potentially drives a stake to the heart of the right to free speech. If the film incited violence then the prosecution should be on that basis - not on the spurious basis of racial hatred. Let us hope this Dutch example is not repeated elsewhere.

4 comments:

Delirious said...

I think something similar is happening in San Francisco. http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jan/09011607.html

Bunc said...

That's a more difficult one but I see why it looks that way. The Catholic church had every right to oppose prop 8. Those who don't agree with it (and I would likely have been one I suspect) just have to take those arguments on as valid debate.

Tax law is a different matter so it's more difficult to judge this matter. On the face of it it's the restructuring that is triggering the tax issue but I see why the timing is being questioned.

Looney said...

Amen to your post, Bunc. Besides the obviously pathetic reasoning, I have to wonder where a society will head if the judges are understood to be making up disingenuous rulings for political ends.

USpace said...

.
FREE Partij voor de Vrijheid! The Koran shouldn't be banned. Mein Kampf isn't a 'Holy Book', but it shouldn't be banned either, but you should be able to criticize it and the idiots who agree with it.

As many sane people know, Geert Wilders is NO racist. He is simply against out-of-control immigration; and against immigrants who won't assimilate; and the ones who beat Gays and rape non-Muslim women for not being covered up. He is also very much against the ones who kill their own daughters and sisters for their 'family honor'.
.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't criticize religions

just use Christian words
substitute for Islam's words

.
here's an absurd thought -
your Supreme God knew
Jesus as a pedophile

and a raping terrorist
converting slaves by the sword
.
Muslims are not a 'race' anyway, they are followers of a religion/ideology and its Sharia Law. Most Muslims aren't even Arabs, which by the way, is also not a 'Race'.

But their duty is, according to their Koran, to spread Sharia law over the whole Earth. It might take 100-200 years, if they succeed.

Is that the kind of world we want for our great-grand childrens' great-grand children? A Taliban Planet? I bet not. Muslims are the biggest victims of Islam. Wilders is NOT against Muslims, he is against Islamic Fundamentalism.

We all should read the Koran, but be careful, for the Koran prohibits non-Muslims from reading it. I wonder why.

This is BIG, this is REAL BIG! SPREAD THE WORD to the world everyone! The EU Mandarins have crossed the line! If this goes to court, how much more of the public will become aware of this tyranny?
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. If there is no freedom of speech, then there can be no real freedom.

The Christians and Jews don’t riot when somebody makes fun of Christ or Jews. People must learn to be civilized, and held to account when they are not. Muslims included.

Geert Wilders is a hero spreading the painful truth. He MUST be protected!
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here's an absurd thought -
your Supreme God says
Christians are a race

who love the Jewish race
and the peaceful Buddhist race

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
Sharia Law for ALL

submit to glorious life
slavery and servitude

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
outlaw self-defense

exposing violent crimes
shall be deemed hate speech

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
decide to change your race

just simply change religions
your religion is your race

USpace
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All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
.
Help Halt Terrorism Today!
.

:)
.

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