Muslims and members of other religions should get used to being mocked, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday. Lord Carey of Clifton said he passionately believed it was good for members of a religion to have their faith criticised on certain occasions.
Speaking as a member of an all-party group of peers opposing the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, Lord Carey said he wanted to live in a society where people were sensitive to the feelings of others. “But in being sensitive, what we mustn’t do is create a society in which certain stories are not told,” Lord Carey told a news conference.
Of course, as anyone who’s read the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill will know, it proposes to illegalise actions that incite hatred, not ridicule or criticism. It would extend to Muslims, Hindus and other “multi-ethnic” faith groups the protection presently enjoyed by Jews and Sikhs as adherents of “mono-ethnic” religions. In all consistency, Carey should be calling for the abolition of existing racial hatred laws on the basis that “Jews should get use to being mocked”.
Yesterday Carey and his fellow lords Lester and Hunt, together with Lisa Appignanesi of PEN, issued a statement in support of a wrecking amendment to the bill in the Lords. They observed blandly that “there are no pressing practical problems that require such a broad sweeping measure”. Readers of this website, not to mention the victims of the hatred and bigotry we record, might think otherwise.