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Hate Speech vs. Free Speech: UK Tackles Issue

It seems the United Kingdom is grappling with the equivalent to our “hate crimes” debate….. except Labour’s proposal would infringe on our First Amendment.

Peter Tatchell, one of the most consistently principled gay activists in the world, is troubled by the proposed crackdown on “hate speech” in Britain.  (Read the whole thing!)

Jack Straw has decided to introduce yet another criminal offence, adding to the 3,000 new crimes Labour has introduced since it came to power in 1997. This latest offence will prohibit the incitement of homophobic hatred.

It is intended to help tackle anti-queer prejudice, which is a good intention. But will this legislation work? Is it necessary? Might it not lead to infringements of free speech? Are there more effective ways to challenge homophobia and other hateful incitements?

A much more important issue is the fact that the government, police and prosecution service are failing to enforce the laws prohibiting the incitement of actual violence and murder against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Inciting violence and murder is much worse, in my view, than inciting hate. Yet the relevant laws are often not enforced. Why not?

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Likewise, some fundamentalist Muslim clerics, on the extremist wing of Islam, openly urge the killing of gay people, unchaste women and Muslims who turn away from their faith. In east London in 2005, hate preacher Abdul Muhid of the pro-jihad Saviour Sect, urged the murder of homosexuals. Despite witnesses willing to go to court, the Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute him. Yet when the Islamist Abdullah el-Faisal incited the murder of Jews, Hindus and Americans in 2003 he was promptly arrested, convicted and jailed.  More double standards.

The non-prosecution of Muslim clerics who incite the murder of gay people is a tragic betrayal of vulnerable gay and lesbian Muslims.  They live in fear of the homophobic violence that is being stirred up by Islamist extremists.  What signal does this official hands-off attitude send to queer Muslims?  That the government does not care about their suffering?  Police and CPS inaction gives homophobic persecutors a de facto green light to continue their violent threats.

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.

Sounds like a vaguely familiar debate, no?

The most troubling part of this article is the fact that it makes me wonder:  Where are the principled American gay activists with an intellectual strength like Peter’s?   Why don’t American gay activists see the real threat to gays by Islamists as opposed to their puffed-up threat-mongering splashed against Republicans?

Ah yes, silly me.  The answer is clear:  Democrat fundraising needs.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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14 Comments

  1. So, if a British guy announces, “I’m going outside to smoke a fag,” is he going to be prosecuted for hate speech?

    Among the many problems with these Orwellian laws is that it’s usually the most neurotically hypersensitive people in society who get to determine what hate speech is. These laws have also proven useful in silencing debate on controversial topics in favor of the people who have power.

    Comment by V the K — October 11, 2007 @ 12:12 pm - October 11, 2007

  2. So British law enforcement won’t prosecute offenders according to current law. Were it merely the offense against a single, recognized victim group, there would be no ambiguity. But since this is a particular victim upon victim, there exists…no ambiguity. Why? Because the prosecution of a Muslim for following his faith would lead to a violent backlash. As long as a government is cowed by the threat of violence, the violent win.

    Comment by HardHobbit — October 11, 2007 @ 12:18 pm - October 11, 2007

  3. Why don’t American gay activists see the real threat to gays by Islamists as opposed to their puffed-up threat-mongering splashed against Republicans?

    They’re too self-centered to care.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — October 11, 2007 @ 12:23 pm - October 11, 2007

  4. Agree that these laws are Orwellian, scary and hopefully a non-starter here in the US due to the 1st Amendment.

    GP: you said that this UK law is similar to our hate crimes debate. Are you sure? Our hate crime law is concerned with incitement to violence; this law in the UK is incitement to hate. They are not the same thing.

    As for your last hypothetical hyperbole:

    Why don’t American gay activists see the real threat to gays by Islamists as opposed to their puffed-up threat-mongering splashed against Republicans?

    We don’t have a problem with Islamists here in the US trying to kill gays. There are Republicans trying to ban gays from adopting, marrying, teaching, organizing in high schools, or serving in the military, and a host of other normal activities.
    Again, you act as if threat to life and limb from Islamists can somehow not exist at the same time as political and civil threats from domestic politicians. Trust me: I recognize the threat from Islamists just as I recognize the threat to gay rights from Republicans. They’re not equal in weight or scope, but that doesn’t mean they don’t both exist.

    Comment by torrentprime — October 11, 2007 @ 3:27 pm - October 11, 2007

  5. OT on an under-used thread: Detainee is tortured to death. Where is Sullivan’s outrage?.

    Comment by V the K — October 11, 2007 @ 8:48 pm - October 11, 2007

  6. “There are Democrats trying to ban Christians from speaking, lobbying, teaching, organizing in high schools, or serving in the military, and a host of other normal activities.
    Again, you act as if threat to life and limb from Islamists can somehow not exist at the same time as political and civil threats from domestic politicians. Trust me: I recognize the threat from Islamists just as I recognize the threat of Democrats to free speech and organized religion. They’re not equal in weight or scope, but that doesn’t mean they don’t both exist.”

    Fixed it for you tp.

    I don’t think so much I worry about you lobbying against me in the political realm. I worry that it seems you find it more important than uniting against those who would kill both of us.

    Comment by The Livewire — October 11, 2007 @ 8:53 pm - October 11, 2007

  7. That is an interesting case. I’d push for manslaughter or negligent suicide. Just too high a risk to leave a play partner alone. Especially if he had breathing issues.

    Comment by The Livewire — October 11, 2007 @ 9:03 pm - October 11, 2007

  8. #5

    “Jesuth Chrith!”

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — October 11, 2007 @ 11:03 pm - October 11, 2007

  9. Especially since, Livewire, when Democrats support banning gays from marrying, adopting, and whatnot, and brag that they have the “same position” as Republicans, gay activists and gay organizations like HRC, NGLTF, and Stonewall Democrats fawn over them as “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive” and shovel them millions of dollars in support and endorsements.

    That demonstrates rather convincingly that they have no problem with such things.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 12, 2007 @ 2:17 am - October 12, 2007

  10. Fixed it for you tp.

    Livewire, LOL :-)

    Now, OT for an under-used threat, but still related to UK:

    A British High Court judge finds that al-Goretoo’s film is indeed “propaganda” and has nine major scientific errors.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 12, 2007 @ 2:17 pm - October 12, 2007

  11. sorry – under-used threa*d*

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 12, 2007 @ 2:17 pm - October 12, 2007

  12. Another OT, Rush Limbaugh is making the Sorocrats look like asses again, by auctioning off their threatening letter for US Marines charity.

    Comment by V the K — October 12, 2007 @ 2:24 pm - October 12, 2007

  13. #12 LOL, that’s great.

    Comment by The Livewire — October 12, 2007 @ 6:50 pm - October 12, 2007

  14. What republican has ever tried to prevent homosexuals getting married? Homosexuals have always been allowed to marry in every state in the union.

    Comment by Steve Edwards — January 24, 2008 @ 2:45 pm - January 24, 2008

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