October 10, 2007

free speech vs. hate speech

I agree with Peter Tatchell completely. The proposed laws incitement of homophobic hatred represent a dangerous dilution of free speech, and will do nothing except further damage our civil liberties. We do not need to single out special victim groups for protection, we need equal protection for all under the law. We do not need new laws on hate speech, we need to enforce the existing ones on incitement to violence and murder.

The same goes for all prejudice, whatever the motive and whoever the perpetrator. The best way to tackle prejudice is by presenting facts and using reasoned arguments, to break down ignorance and ill-will.

All incitements to hatred should be treated with the same zero tolerance. But not, in my opinion, by means of criminal sanctions. Free speech is precious. It should be limited only in exceptional circumstances - when it slips into inciting violence and murder.


Introducing legislation prohibiting the incitement of homophobic hatred seems a bit amiss when already-existing laws are not being enforced against the much more serious crimes of inciting violence and murder. Please, Mr Straw, ensure the enforcement of the current laws before you start introducing new ones.


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