Opinion United Kingdom

New Blasphemy Laws: “Hate Speech” In Homes “Must Be Prosecuted”

If there is a genuine assault on liberty and free speech in the West, this is exactly how it will be carried out.
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Less than two weeks after a French middle-school teacher was beheaded in a public street for “offending” Islam, Scotland’s Muslim justice secretary has proposed a new bill that would see people prosecuted for the use of “hate speech” in the privacy of their own homes.

Humza Yousaf’s new legislation, the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, seeks to introduce a new offence of “stirring up” hatred through speech and could be applied inside people’s private residences.

Following initial pushback, however, Yousaf was forced to amend the bill to limit “stirring up” offences to “intent” to stir up hatred. The offence could be in relation to a person’s religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, variations in sex characteristics, disability, and age.

In other words, we have Scotland’s answer to Islamic blasphemy laws that are now employed in Muslim countries to prosecute individuals for speaking ill of Islam.

According to USCIRF, between 1987 and 2012, authorities prosecuted a total of 1,170 blasphemy cases between 1987 and 2012, with scores of new cases every year. It’s estimated that in 2017 alone, at least 50 individuals were imprisoned on charges of blasphemy, with at least 17 facing possible death sentences.

While Scotland’s not (yet) seeking to put anyone to death over wrong-speak, they’ve not only adopted a similar practice of policing speech, they’ve also broadened the offence. And not only are they willing to prosecute individuals who criticise Islam, but their sights are now set on critics of transgender ideology and those who espouse a biblical view of sexual morality.

In fact, it’s likely the only people who aren’t “protected” by these new blasphemy laws are Christians! After all, that is how these wannabe-tyrannical governments now define “hate.” Express the Christian view of gender, marriage, sex, or even the exclusivity of Christ, and you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

And that is, as we’ve often seen, how the term “hate” is applied. Criticize or disagree with an ideology and you could be found guilty of a hate crime. Of course, that doesn’t apply to every ideology, but only those the government has arbitrarily placed under state protection.

Transgenderism, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and every alternative religion all presuppose the Bible is wrong at some point, and is, therefore, not what it claims to be. To affirm a state-approved and protected ideology is to deny a fundamental aspect of Christianity. It is to say that not only Christians for 2,000 years have understood these things wrong, but also that Jesus and the Apostle erred.

And lest you think speech laws won’t be used to target Christians in particular, take a look at the “anti-hate” movement launched by the Scottish Government in 2018.

The “Letters from Scotland” campaign, produced in partnership with Police Scotland, included a series of letters to bigots, transphobes, homophobes, and urged citizens to report any “religious hate” they may see or hear.

One poster read:

Dear bigots, division seems to be what you believe in. We don’t want your religious hate on our buses, on our streets and in our communities. We don’t want you spreading your intolerance. Or making people’s lives a misery because of their religious dress. You may not have faith in respect and love, but we do. That’s why if we see or hear your hate, we’re reporting you. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.

Posters from the Scottish Government’s anti-hate campaign.

A more concise poster simply stated: “Dear bigots, you can’t spread your religious hate here. End of sermon. Hate crime. Report it to stop it.”

The campaign was so obviously anti-Christian that following its launch, the Barnabas Fund filed a complaint with Police Scotland. After all, that’s exactly what the posters were urging citizens to do: “Hate crime. Report it to stop it.”

But of course, after Police in Scotland investigated their own actions they conveniently found themselves to be innocent of committing a “hate crime” against Christians. No surprises there.

But more than that, we need to be asking ourselves why we need the government to protect certain ideas from criticism. What a woeful ideology it must be if it cannot survive without threats of fines and imprisonment, without public floggings or executions.

“Hate speech” is a fiction. It’s a concept invented to create the illusion of virtue in shutting down critics or opposing ideas. Branding the criticism or critique of particular ideologies as “hate speech” provides a way of silencing opposition while claiming the moral high ground in doing so.

If there is a genuine assault on liberty and free speech in the West, this is exactly how it will be carried out.


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