'Negative Opinion' equals 'Hate Crime'

'Negative Opinion' equals 'Hate Crime'

Fairies in the garden
Fairies

Call me a cantankerous old curmudgeon, but I think if people happen to dislike an organisation, they should be allowed to express their views . For example, fill in the blanks yourself:

I dislike Tesco because…
I hate Fine Gael because…
I abhor NATO because…
I despise Islam because…

'Whoa! Wait a minute. What was that last one? Islam?? You can't say that, it's a religion.'

But it's just an organisation. It's not like it's a skin colour or something. Why can't I say that I find a religion disagreeable?

'Because religion is sacred. It's a spiritual path bestowed upon us by God. These are people's cherished beliefs you're talking about.'

Nah, it's a club like any other. You sign up if you like their programme of activities. Or you join because you're Dad was one of them. It's like following Wigan or something.

I hate Wigan Athletic because…

Perhaps a belief that Wigan Athletic is the greatest club ever, or that Wigan will win the F.A. cup or whatever, perhaps those are also cherished beliefs. Who says that God didn't bestow us with those instead? Let's remind ourselves, if we even need to, that there's no proof of any of God's intentions.

If you want to join a religion, go ahead. If that means you have to believe a bunch of bogus twaddle, fine–whatever blows your skirt up. But do not expect everyone else to bow reverentially at the mere mention of your deity; to take our hats of when his name is mentioned. And, by Mighty Thor, do not expect to become suddenly immune to criticism simply because your brand of stupidity is arbitrarily labelled: 'Religion.'

What exactly makes a belief 'religious' anyway? Fairies at the bottom of the garden don't seem to count, or the Wigan thing. I think it comes down to this: Can your belief ever be proven scientifically? Does your belief tell you how other people should be living their lives? If you answered No and Yes respectively, then you have yourself a religion, my friend.

'But you must respect people's beliefs!'

And why is that exactly? Where does it say that we have to 'respect people's beliefs'? In what other area of life() are we forced to 'respect beliefs'? Physicists will call each other 'stupid' for believing something based on a faulty premise, but they will go on to prove why. In politics people will argue the hind legs off donkey, but the polls will decide. The most heated confrontations arise in the arena of sports preferences, I shouldn't have to mention Wigan again, but in the end the stats don't lie.

If you want to believe something, fine. If you want me to believe it too, you had better come up with some decent arguments from fact. If I have heard your case, but conclude rationally that you are just an idiot for deluding yourself so royally, I reserve the right to render that judgement. In public, if I so wish.

I may also wish to express my disgust at your beliefs. Perhaps you feel gay people shouldn't exist. Perhaps you think blood transfusions are ungodly. Perhaps you believe women are second-class citizens. In these cases I will public denounce your beliefs and encourage others to rail against your kind.

Ian McEwan

Further to our discussion this week on the rarity of public intellectuals, it appears that the writer Ian McEwan ('Atonement,' 'The Cement Garden') may be 'investigated for hate crimes' because he finds hard-line proponents of the Muslim religion abhorrent.

All religions make very big claims about the world, and it should be possible in an open society to dispute them. It should be possible to say, 'I find some ideas in Islam questionable' without being called a racist

Hear, hear. I hate the British thoughtcrime Police because…

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Endnotes:
  1. Bill Maher returns to this point often [back ↩]