In excerpts from a forthcoming book entitled ‘Free Expression is No Offence’, Philip Pullman, Monica Ali, Philip Hensher and Salman Rushdie consider the threat to free speech contained in the government’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.
Frankly, it’s a lot of pretentious waffle, interspersed with ignorant remarks.
“If you choose to stop being a Muslim, you are an apostate and, depending on where you live, liable to severe punishment, which might include the death penalty. So being a Muslim is partly a matter of choice and partly one of coercion.” (I must hurry and warn a Muslim friend of mine, who is considering converting to Christianity.)
“Hate-speech laws in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands have not resulted in a decrease in insults directed towards Jews, Muslims, Turks, African immigrants or other minorities. In fact there has been growth in support for the extreme right in those countries.” (If this is an argument against introducing a religious hatred law, it’s equally an argument in favour of abolishing the existing racial hatred laws. Is that what is being proposed?)
“… a cynical vote-getting attempt to placate British Muslim spokesmen, in whose eyes just about any critique of Islam is offensive…. New Labour is playing with the fire of communal politics, and in consequence we may all be burned.” (Oh piss off, Salman.)