Thursday, September 02, 2004

More Crushing of Dissent

No, it's not John Ashcroft's work. One of the front-burner issues in Britain this summer is Home Secretary David Blunkett's plan to make inciting religious hatred a criminal offence.

The new offence is likely to be closely modelled on the existing crime of inciting racial hatred which carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment.

The conservative Sunday Telegraph editorializes against this, in terms of unusual vigor for a Western media outlet. The editor seems to see a civilizational issue here, hence the call to the barricades.

A society in which one cannot revile a religion and its members is one in which there are limits to the human spirit. The Islamic world was intellectually and economically wrecked by its decision to put religion beyond the reach of invective, which is simply an extreme form of debate. By so doing, it put science and art beyond the reach of experiment, too. Now, at the behest of Muslim foreigners who have forced themselves on us, New Labour wants to import the same catastrophe into our own society.

The country's largest Muslim group, of course, is spearheading a campaign to have him sacked.