Wednesday 4 June 2008

More threats to freedom of expression

Following on from the worrying story about the teenager threatened with prosecution for calling Scientology a 'cult', there's a report that a police community support officer in Birmingham stopped Christian preachers from distributing leaflets because they were in a 'Muslim area' and their actions might constitute a 'hate crime'. 

I'm no great fan of religionists proselytising in the street, but as the man said, I'd defend to the death their right to do so, however wacky their beliefs. And as a secularist, I'll complain till I'm blue in the face every time someone ascribes a religion to a geographical area, especially if that person is a state official. If the report is true, the police officer in question was behaving more like the enforcer of a sectarian neighbourhood protection racket than an officer of the law.

Along similar lines, Brett warns about a deeply disturbing attempt to include protection against 'defamation and contempt for religions' in the UN charter on human rights. As he says: 'It is people who require protection, not religions, philosophies, institutions and other abstractions'.  There's more on this over at the National Secular Society's website.

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