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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Singer’s song of common sense

[S]uppressing the freedom of speech of Islam’s critics merely gives rise to the suspicion that evidence and sound argument cannot show their arguments to be mistaken.

Thus spake Peter Singer, author of the seminal work Animal Liberation, in the Guardian.

He makes as good a case as I have read for our right to criticise religion – to the point of defaming it, if necessary.

Religion itself cannot, of course, claim an infringement of human rights, because it isn’t a human being. To protect it under the heading of human rights is a nonsense. Provided no individual person is being defamed – such that libel or slander can be proven – then ideas are fair game.

It was, of course, the Muslims who wanted their benighted belief system protected. But, as Singer astutely points out with the quotation above, if they have nothing to hide, why try to stop their critics?

He goes on to say that, if they can prove that criticisms levelled at them are untrue, then that, and not suppressing free expression, is the way to refute such criticisms. This is how he puts it:

For example, the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Conference] said in its statement [to the UN] that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” Are those associations wrong? If the OIC wishes to change many people’s perception that Islam violates human rights, suppressing freedom of speech is hardly the best way to go about it. The way to change such a perception would be to marshal evidence against it, and to make the case that human rights – including the rights of women – are as well protected in Islamic countries as they are in non-Islamic countries.

Hard to argue with that. But demanding, whining, whingeing, complaining Muslims (and that is not, let me state now, all of them) will continue to be appeased by the politically correct brigade and the shoddy and shabby politicians for whom there are votes to be had by keeping Muslims sweet.

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