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Subsume the crime of Incitement to Religious Hatred into the existing, and perfectly adequate Incitement to Racial Hatred legislation.

Comment 16th July 2010

The crime of Incitement to Religious Hatred was created to close a loophole in the previous law. The crime of Incitement to Racial Hatred already protected Jewish and Hindu people from hate-speech (being both races and religions) so the BNP decided to change their tactics to attacking Muslims (because Islam isn't a race and so they could get away with it).

 

As with the old adage, exceptions make bad law. The idea of this massive legal apparatus just to stop a BNP hate campaign that few will listen to is ill thought through. As a result of badly-drafted law, it is now illegal to criticise another's religious beliefs too strongly. Religion, unlike race, is based on belief, and is not merely a tribal affiliation – people should have the freedom to discuss the basis of their beliefs freely without fear, in order for religious groups to remain grounded in reason and avoid fundamentalism.

 

I propose that the crime of Incitement to Religious Hatred be abolished, and the crime of Incitement to Racial Hatred amended to cover not only those groups that are a 'race' by ethnicity, but also any group that views itself as connected by a filial bond in its' belief system (such as Christians, who see themselves as the adopted family of God, or Muslims, who see themselves as the spiritual descendents of Ishmael – this would also cover hatred against other groups like the Freemasons, who see themselves as brothers, or Americans, who are not a single race, but have a common affinity through their constitution and its values). This would mean it would still be a crime to incite hatred against Muslims just for being Muslims, but it would not be a crime to suggest that the belief in polygamy is a degrading idea to women.

Why does this matter?

Racial characteristics are inherent and unchangeable. Religious beliefs are beliefs, they are subject to debate, discussion and conversion. There is a massive difference between insulting a person's in-born characteristics and questioning or criticising their beliefs.


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