After and over the best part of 400 years we in Britain managed to construct a relatively free civil and civilised society in which religious and secular life could flourish in public and mutual agreement and disagreement, vigorously and occasionally scatologically critical the one of the other.
Now, however, this public debate has been circumscribed by classifying such argument and such difference as expressing little more than ‘hatred’, a new criminal offence: And, alerted to a looming illiberality by a series of ‘hate’ laws relating to race, religion, gender, age, and physical disability and by the ludicrous ambitions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, all freedom-loving people would be well-advised to check on the legality of their public utterances before they make them – hypocrisy being the best policy.
In our new publication, we show how, in pursuit of ‘hatred’, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service destroyed the free speech and independent existence of two ordinary citizens of Liverpool, a story pregnant with implications for all of us. When messrs Cameron and Clegg get round to their promised ‘Bonfire of the Banalities’, then the laws relating to religious hatred in particular should be the first into the flames.
As these two bold politicians told the House of Commons in June 2005, these laws ‘disproportionately curtail freedom of expression, worsen community relations as different religious and belief groups call for the prosecution of their opponents, create uncertainty as to what words or behaviour are lawful and lead to the selective application of the law in a manner likely to bring it into disrepute’. Our book looks to demonstrate how true this is.
- For more information on the study, click here.
- A NEW INQUISITION: religious persecution in Britain today, can be purchased here.
Jon Gower Davies is a former lecturer at the University of Newcastle and former Labour Councillor on Newcastle City Council.