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January 31, 2006

Comments

dsquared

No, you've always been free to say that and would have been even under the unamended Bill. Nobody would reasonably have been incited to hate Muslims because you said that and the test was always "hatred of a religiously identified group [of people]", not a religion.

"Islam is a religion of shit, which only the idiots and barbarians of the world believe in. Muslims are followers of a paeodophile and they beat women and stone homsexuals." would have been more borderline under the unamended bill; I still think it would pass as it's not really incitement, but the bill as amended makes it specific in the statute that insults, jokes and criticism aren't incitement. That's indeed a good win, as there was a hell of a lot of vagueness in the unamended Bill; I think the Lords amendment is not what you would call a beautiful piece of legislation but at least the ambiguity now favours the right side.

However, I would still be careful if you are planning on saying that "The Muslim scum among us are raping white women and children, stealing from our benefits system and our dhimmi traitor government are too scared to do anything about it". In the context of this blog comment I'm obviously not inciting anyone, but in a different context (say if you were planning on having a thousand posters printed and sticking them up anonymously around Oldham) it is the sort of thing that would be caught.

In general, the test that the courts are likely to apply is "if you substituted 'Jew' for 'Muslim' here, would this fall within the pretty rigorous standard for incitement to racial hatred?". If the material fails that test, there is likely to be a further test of "is the offensiveness of this material a result of criticism, insult or abuse rather than threatening language?" which could still keep you out of jail.

I would be a bit careful with context if you're planning on reproducing those Jyllens Post cartoons too because a couple of them, frankly, do look to me like cribs from Der Sturmer, and it is things like Der Sturmer that are meant to be caught in the new legislation.

Jim

dsquared,

From the way you describe the final bill, it sounds like our harassment laws here in the US, or perhaps it resembles the threat exemption to free speech rights.

You make an important distinction between speech directed at Islam as opposed to Muslims, even in case where the use of "Islam" is obviously code for "Muslims". It may only be a deficiency of the terminology used in English, but there seems to be less of a distinction in people's mind's betwennIslam and Muslims than thee traditionally is between Christianity and the Church(amorphous, in bits and pieces, whatever)and this can lead to trouble.

Neverthless. Muslims have to grow up, get confident, and get used to living in a civilized society. I can't place the quotation, but someone said that scepticism is a luxury only the truly faithful can afford. I disagree; I think it is crucial to real faith.

dsquared

no, I think it's quite a bit more restrictive than that although nothing like as restrictive as the Canadian or Dutch hate speech laws. The important difference as I understand it (which might not be very much as I don't know very much about US law) is that a threat in America has to be pretty specific, whereas you can be guilty of inciting hatred without there being an individual victim. In general, the US has better free speech laws than the UK, although it does have to be recognised that the UK racial incitement laws were passed in order to solve specific and serious problems and by and large they have worked.

I tend to agree with you with regard to the Muslims (and the gays, who have already been making noises about wanting their own incitement to hatred law). But what I really can't stand is the cacophony of voices in the UK at the moment who want to pretend either that there is no problem here, or that the UK law is the equivalent of the Canadian one. Even more so since I really do doubt the sincerity of a lot of the newly minted UK "free speech" advocates, who appear to simply be using the issue to have a go at the Muslims.

Jim

Thanks for the explantion. We do have hate speech laws, but they tend to only be used to add aggravating circumstances to charges. We do have "fighting words" laws in some places that I don't understand fully, but basically they work like this: if you are white, let's say call someone "n*gger", and he takes it as hate speech, and he beats the shit out of you, there is a self-defense or a crime of passion defense. IIRC "faggot" falls into the same category, if a straight uses it as an insult towards a gay. Apparently the law wouldn't cover the use of these terms between members of the same group. I don't realy approve of the law allowing people to indulge in to their rages, and there are obvious equal,protection problems, but then, we are cool with that - reference the Violence Against Women Act.

radek

"I would be a bit careful with context if you're planning on reproducing those Jyllens Post cartoons too because a couple of them, frankly, do look to me like cribs from Der Sturmer"

Uh, which ones?
(Maybe I'm missing context or something)

radek

"I would be a bit careful with context if you're planning on reproducing those Jyllens Post cartoons too because a couple of them, frankly, do look to me like cribs from Der Sturmer"

Uh, which ones?
(Maybe I'm missing context or something)

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