New to this group, thanks for having me
Thought I would share something that has had my poor wee atheist brain turning for a few days (the article is a few days old). To me this read as religious institutions citing "free speech" as an excuse to continue ostracising communities that don't fit with their worldview. The idea that it could inform such a crucial piece of policy as hate crime legislation worries me deeply. What thoughts do people have on this? I would be interested in the discussion that would follow on a forum like this.
Hi Hawkeye, welcome to the site.
I think it is a bit of a non story. American religious nutters do not have any real influence here.
Most hate crimes are already covered and this appears to just filling in any gaps and simplifying the legislation.
Apparently the bill will also remove the common law offence of blasphemy which surprises me as I thought it had long since been consigned to history.
We have come a long way since the execution of Thomas Aitkenhead in 1697
The US religious right likes to try to exploit the Intolerance Paradox. However freedoms are not defended but defending the freedom to oppress. When the mob boss says in front of Frankie the enforcer "wouldn't it be a shame if Louis Looselips had a fatal accident" he knows what the likely result of those words will be. That's not freedom of speech it's conspiracy to murder. Hate speech laws extend that idea. The target audience might be larger than just Frankie the enforcer, the potential victim pool might be larger than Louis Looselips but if the reasonably expected outcome of your speech is that someone gets hurt then you're culpable in that outcome.
Now I fully support the right of religious people to dictate to their followers what they eat, wear and how they behave. Even their attitude towards others outside the religion. However I can't accept a religious exemption to breaking the law. If it's illegal for a shock jock to call for homosexuals to be stoned to death it should be just as illegal for a preacher to say the same thing even if it is in their holy book.
I am sorry to say that free speech always involves allowing people to say things which are unacceptable, even harmful and stupid. But if you are to have it at all, then it has to be a absolute, within reason such as promoting violence can be banned, one of the few real ones. Because if you give someone the power to decide who should and who should not speak, then you create the prefect environment for a criminal to exploit. Also you force some forms of speech underground where they can become far more dangerous. Since they are no longer monitered by main stream society, no longer held up to ridicule, and able to attract support from a far wider base, since the one successful underground movement soon becomes the leader of them all, and soon becomes an alternative society.
I don’t know enough about this Bill to form an opinion. I would have to read it in greater detail first, to digest its implications...I have not participated in the poll. As a Scot, who lives in Northern Ireland, I am interested in this issue, although was not aware of it as I don’t closely follow what is happening at Holyrood. I will try to find out more.
Btw...welcome to the site! Nice to welcome another Scot.