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Audio + Video > Johann Hari on free speech and religious fundamentalism

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

From the inaugural Independent Voices 5x15 event from The Independent, Johann Hari talks about the importance of free speech as a tool to challenge religious hegemony.

message 2: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 14, 2011 03:41AM) (new)

MadgeUK I worry about the US commitment to Free-Speech-no-matter-what because it seems to me to lead to a number of undesirable things like religious nutters being able to do and say any darn thing and adversely affect the lives of millions of others :(:( It isn't free speech legislation which has enabled atheists to speak out, it has been democracy, education and the march of time, as with slavery and the emancipation of women. Countries without Free Speech enshrined in their constitution, like the UK, most of Europe and Scandinavia, have made just as much progress in the field of human rights as has the US. A controversial p.o.v. I know but one firmly held by quite a lot of Brits, who look at the hysterical hate speech of American religious and political people (like the Tea Party) with mounting horror.

message 3: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (blueskiesblackslopes) As an American, I would never be OK with silencing these people by law. Free speech works for everyone, even the despicable (Fred Phelps), and often for our side (Simon Singh--thank the flying spaghetti monster for that free speech in the Guardian).

If speech were to be restricted by law (and it's not no-matter-what, but it's pretty extreme) we atheists and skeptics would be the ones to be silenced-- we are greatly outnumbered and many religious people consider me saying I don't believe the Jesus story to be "hate speech."

message 4: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 16, 2011 12:19AM) (new)

MadgeUK I know it is a difficult area Amanda and am aware of the limitations. I have nevertheless seen hate speech legislation in the UK (and Europe) to be beneficial and as promoting a more tolerant society. Being married to an Afro-Caribbean in the 70s I was at the end of a lot of hate speech and actions which I saw disappear when our racial/gender discrimination laws were enacted. Homosexuals too are subject to a lot less hate speech and actions than formerly. Jews in Germany have been thankful for their hate speech legislation too.

IMO hateful speech just begets more hateful speech, leading on to hateful actions - like violence generally, it escalates. Most parents discourage their children from using hate speech and try to teach them reasonable, tolerant behaviour but some parents don't and a minority grow up habitually using speech which is cruel and unnecessary. Expressing disbelief of the Jesus story would not be judged as hate speech in a court of law over here - there are legal standards applied to hate speech and no silly judgements like that have been made in the 30 years since the legislation has been in place. America is unique in its attitude towards hate speech and that is not necessarily a good thing, as the increased hysterical use of it by US political parties and religious groups shows.

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