Friday, 25 April 2008

Freedom to Offend

The second Pink Paper story that caught my attention is an article by Jonathan Best, Director of Queer Up North. He argues that the current proposals for criminalising inciting homophobic hatred is wrong and argues for freedom of speech. It makes a refreshing change from the bulk of material produced by activists in this field that has sang the praises of the legislation. I was against the religious hatred proposals a few years ago and similarly against the current proposals on this. Best concludes by writing: 'It’s uncomfortable for me, an HIV-positive gay man, to be defending the rights of bigots,but freedom of speech belongs to everyone, and it must include the freedom to offend – that’s part of the price we pay for a free society. If we fall back on the easy shortcut of restricting expression in a misguided (and doomed) attempt to engineer a nicer world, we will add to society’s divisions, rather than heal them.'

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