The Null Device

Religious Vilification Bill

Rod Liddle in last week's Sunday Times on Britain's upcoming religious vilification laws:
Heres a short Christmas quiz. Let me rephrase that. Its a short Winterval quiz. I would not wish to frighten or alienate any Sunday Times readers by waving Jesus Christ in their faces.
Anyway, the first question is this. One of the two statements below may soon be illegal; the other will still be within the law. You have to decide which is which and explain, with the aid of a diagram, the logic behind the new provision. a) Stoning women to death for adultery is barbaric. b) People who believe it is right to stone women to death for adultery are barbaric.

Other people, including comedian Rowan Atkinson, have pointed out that the religious vilification laws could have profoundly chilling effects on debate, which the Home Office strenuously denies. The bill, as drafted, apparently criminalises treating religious texts, such as the Bible or Koran, "in an abusive or insulting way", thus sounding dangerously like the all-faiths blasphemy bill David Blunkett went out of his way to say it wasn't. It does, however, specifically exempt comedians.

(I'll bet that the Church of Scientology's lawyers are rubbing their hands with glee at the shiny new blunt instrument for use against critics they are about to be handed. I wonder whether they'll get to use Britain's national firewall to block access to critical sites.) (via FmH)

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