Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Nanny's Religious Hatred
Nanny dropped a bit of a clanger (or fumbled a ball, whatever you prefer) last night.
Her much vaunted Religious Hatred bill was being voted on in the Commons.
Nanny was seeking new powers to ban people suspected of preaching religious hatred.
Yet she lost the vote!
The proposals, which formed a key part of Nanny's election manifesto last May (some cynics argued that it was sop designed to shore up the Muslim vote), will still become law, but with restrictions imposed by the House of Lords.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the defeat last night was that in one of the key votes, Nanny lost by a majority of one.
Guess who didn't vote?
None other than the head Nanny herself, Blairy Poppins!
I wonder if this "error" was by accident or design?
Fungus Clarke, Nanny's Home Secretary, said of the defeat:
"I regret that on the question of the level of the bar at which prosecutions can be brought ...
that the government lost tonight."
The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill aims to give followers of all faiths equal protection from incitement.
Nanny's critics, including Rowan Atkinson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, and civil rights groups, have said that Nanny's Religious Hatred Law threatened free speech.
Rowan Atkinson has said some of his sketches, and others such as Monty Python's 1979 film "Life of Brian", could face prosecution if the original proposals had been passed.
To my view, if Nanny is sincere in her claim that she wishes to create an equal and tolerant society; where people of all faiths can practice their religions without fear, less is more.
In other words, remove the blasphemy law from the statute books; allow people to openly criticise religions. This will place all religions on the same level.
Healthy religions, that are comfortable with engaging in open and rigorous debate as to the meaning of life and other issues, will flourish. Those religions that attempt to stifle debate, by threatening those who would dare to question the "faith" with violence, will quite rightly die and will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
In fact those religions that currently stifle debate from within, and bristle at criticism/lampoons or cartoons, are already dead.
After all we no longer worship Zeus, Osiris or Wotan do we?