Wednesday, July 20, 2005


In the wake of the London bombings, there come the predictable calls to tighten security and generally 'do something'. It's a reasonable response and, of course, reviews should be made to see how things could have been handled better. The Blair government are currently doing just that, moving to introduce laws to allow the deportation of hate-mongering imams etc.

In Australia, too, steps have been taken: it is an offence to incite religious hatred, and there's currently a furore over the sale of books purporting to do promote same.

On the face of it, that's a good thing, isn't it? On the face of it, yes.

But dig a little deeper. What would be achieved by suppressing expression? Apart from the general dangers to a free society, would it prevent the general public from coming into contact with dangerous ideas? Yes, but I doubt the general public would be interested in embracing them. Would it prevent those who want to embrace them? History suggests not.

Furthermore, legislation on this topic turns out to be a paper tiger, as seen recently when a couple of ranting pastors in Victoria were found guilty of inciting religious hatred against muslims, and promptly declared that they would go to prison rather than stop doing it. Their tunnel Vision is unimpaired by bars, it seems.

As unpalatable as it is, I believe the best thing to do with views of hate is let them rant in the open, where they can be seen, and countered. To put it crudely, you're less likely to step in dogshit in the daylight. Suppressing expressions of hate should be seen for what it is: an act of laziness that sweeps the problem under the carpet, where it can fester in darkness (and where cultish behaviour thrives).

What *does* need to be done is to actively engage the views spouted, seek them out, and criticise them remorselessly. And laugh at them! Hell hath no fury like a fanatic ridiculed! And nothing more pathetic when their own followers start taking up the alternate batons.

Oh, yes! This would take more effort.

But it might get some results, too.


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