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Ranty McRantrant

This article is bugging me. I obviously despise the very basis of nazism and the awful effects it had on people across Europe and the rest of the world. However, I think banning the swastika, or the nazi salute, or holocaust denial is fundamentally wrong.

Personally, I don't think it matters that the Hindus use the symbol for peace and the nazis used it for bigotry. The point is that you should be free to express your views even if to the majority, your views are abhorrent. The holocaust shouldn't be treated as some sort of sacred event which can never be questioned. Everything, and I mean absolutely everything, should be questionable.

Maybe it's because I'm a scientist that I hold these views. The whole basis of experimental science is questioning how, why and even whether things happen. All the great breakthroughs of science have involved questioning the status quo - often to intense criticism and disgust. The greatest biological breakthrough, Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, still draws fierce opposition in countries like the USA.

Of course I'm not saying that by questioning the holocaust somebody's going to make an incredible scientific discovery. I believe the holocaust happened and there are over 6m dead people to vouch for it. All I'm saying is that we can't pick and choose what people can question. It is the equivalent of having laws banning questioning of biblical events or outlawing questioning of the actions of the British in Imperial India. If someone says something stupid and wrong, you can slate them, you can criticise them, you can call them a cunt, but being stupid and wrong shouldn't be outlawed.

Talking about silly laws banning freedom of expression. That bastarding bastard that is Stephen Green of Christian Voice, one of the few small fundamentalist christian groups in the UK, says that he has begun the process of bringing a private prosecution for blasphemy against Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC and Jonathan Thoday, the show’s producer, for their part in broadcasting Jerry Springer -- the Opera on BBC2 two years ago.

First of all, I don't know how you can bring blasphemy prosecution against a performance which, as far as I'm aware, didn't include Jesus, God, Mohammed, Ganesha or whatever (mind you, if it had included any non-christian deities, it couldn't be prosecuted for blasphemy anyway since the law only covers christians). EDIT: OK scratch that bit. Jesus is in it. Nevertheless, my views remain the same. I find it incredibly unlikely that someone could win a lawsuit like this, especially considering that there have been various shows actually portraying god and jesus in mockable forms.

But more to the point, I find it utterly disgusting that a law such as this is still in the books! As a human, I have a basic write to criticise, condemn, insult and verbally attack whomever I wish so long as in doing so I don't try to incite anyone to physically harm anyone else or to commit a crime against anyone else. Just because the person I'm criticising happens to be Jesus or god, why should it matter? And so for the second time, I've written a very complaining letter to my MP (a different MP this time mind) expressing my disgust. Sigh!

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
sabyne
Jan. 17th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
I agree with you for the most part, but these laws in Germany tend to make a little bit of sense considering that Neo-Nazism over there is still alive and well. It's an over the top measure, and it is exagerated, but still understandable.

However, the whole Jerry Springer the Opera kerfuffle happen EXACTLY because it features Jesus, and Mary, and so forth. Jesus is presented as a huge guy in a diaper, which is not a little reminiscent to diaper fetishists. I hate Green, but this wasn't random. And while the law may only cover Christians, you should also be aware that Christianism tends to be the less protected religion in Britain, which makes sense since this is a Christian country, and minority religious sensibilities are usually more susceptible to offense.

I understand your scientific point of view, since I battle to having it used in my area. However, people and societies have to be dealt with a little bit differently than test tubes.
cheeesuschrist
Jan. 17th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
I understand the use of these laws in Germany (though I still very strongly disagree with them), but the issue is that now they're trying to get the law implemented EU-wide.

Oh OK, I didn't know Jesus was actually in it. In any case, it doesn't change my view that one should be allowed to mock or insult anyone providing you're not inciting crimes against them.

I agree that people have to be treated differently than test tubes and human rights are very important to me. However, I think the most important human right is that of free expression. People don't have to agree with me or condone me and they can even condemn me but that shouldn't stop me having my choice of views and the right to express them.
sabyne
Jan. 17th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
Nobody is saying otherwise! I think Germany is being foolish and heavy handed just like you do. I also agree that freedom of expression is one of the most important things for humanity, especially right now.

But I'm also grateful for the fact that, for example, in Portugal it is considered unconstitutional to have a racist political party, and the same happens with societies in our Student's Union. I have problems seeing anything wrong with that.
autovatic
Jan. 18th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
I agree, besides which, I think there is no better way to fuel a ridiculous cause than by suppressing it through legislation. This gives the Neo-Nazis solid examples of "prosecution" of their ideals.

And, without looking too paranoid, legislating a thought process creeps me out a little bit. I can't help but think about the kids who go through a neo- Nazis phase in their idiotic youth, but grow out of it with experience. They might deserve a swift kick in the ass - or several - but jail time?
autovatic
Jan. 18th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
wow, you can tell I didn't sleep last night!
er... haha "persecution," anyone?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )