Paul Moon on free speech

writes in the NZ Herald:

What makes this audacious and unwanted encroachment on our right to speak and think freely all the more insidious is that this proposed ban on “disharmonious speech” would not apply equally to the criticism of all religions.

The open season on attacking Christianity, for example, would remain, with its followers responding, as their faith requires, by turning the other cheek. Instead, the commission is explicit that this proposed free-speech ban would only apply to the sort of disharmonious comments that are “targeted at the religion and beliefs of ethnic minority communities” in New Zealand.

There’s a show on television called Lucifer. Quite a good show. It’s about Satan having given up ruling hell to run a nightclub and help catch criminals. Portrays God is a pretty bad light and God’s wife even worse!

Probably quite blasphemous to many Christians but I’m not aware of any violent protests against it.

Could you imagine a TV show that featured Mohammed running a night club. Thousands would probably be killed in the protests.

There are several troubling aspects of this plan. Firstly, the commission is moving from protecting people from unpleasant speech (which itself is dubious) to protecting ideas from criticism. If a belief is so fragile that some disharmonious comments might damage it, then maybe the adherents of that belief ought to reconsider its worth rather than seek to shield it from scrutiny.

Exactly.

Also criticism of a religion is not the same as criticism of followers of a religion. I judge people not off what their religion is, but off how they behave.

Secondly, the commission is conflating religion with ethnicity, which is an appalling case of stereotyping. And to show how far the commission has tied itself in knots over this issue, by singling out the religions which it presumes are those of ethnic minorities, it is acting in a way that discriminates on the basis of race and religion, ironically possibly in violation of its own legislation. The thought of the commission investigating itself for a breach of the Act under which it operates indicates how far its ideologues are pursuing the appeasement of certain religions on a Chamberlainian scale.

Islam is not a race. That never stops people calling you racist or having a negative view on Islam.

The freedom to criticise religion and to try to discover the truth was a burning issue (sometimes literally) in previous centuries. Yet in our more enlightened age, the is challenging the notion that we have progressed far enough to discuss, debate, and even criticise ideas that are different from our own.

Why does the commission wish to ban and penalise to protect certain beliefs? Surely the commission, and the rest of us, would be far better off adhering to the maxim of the Czech theologian Jan Hus: “Love the truth; let others have their truth, and the truth will prevail.”

I vote Paul Moon to be a Free Speech Commissioner.

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