Trevor Phillips on free speech

Good to see Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, speak up for democracy and against intolerance on ITV’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme:

What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other.

That we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don’t like.

On the concept of Sharia law being introduced in parts of the UK:

We have one set of laws. They are decided on by one group of people, members of Parliament, and that’s the end of the story.

Anybody who lives here has to accept that’s the way we do it. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.

Heartening to hear from someone who doesn’t confuse race with religion. (And it will be interesting to see if anyone tries to accuse Trevor Phillips of racism!)

(Tipped from HP)


12 Responses to “Trevor Phillips on free speech”

  1. marc says:

    Apparently the Australian government have just taken a similar stace against Muslim fanatics. If the email dribbling around the net is to be belived, they’ve effectively told them, “Live like we do, or fuck off somewhere else where your ideals [e.g. Sharia law] are welcome.”

    No wonder they don’t want HRH lording over them either!

  2. Marc Draco says:

    Mind you, Trev. does miss one little point.

    He seems to think that it’s OK for Imams to insult gay people. Someone should probably point out to him that the colour of one’s skin and one’s sexual orentation are determined by genes. Religion has no right under free speech to insult someone based on their skin pigment, so why should it be allowed the freedom to do the same based on their sexual preference?

  3. Andy A says:

    Religion has no right under free speech to insult someone based on their skin pigment, so why should it be allowed the freedom to do the same based on their sexual preference?

    Reluctantly, Marc, I have to say (and I speak as a fully paid-up pooftah) that Sacranie (for it’s he whom you’re referring to) has that right. He may be totally wrong, based on science, but we also allow (although sensible people abhor) those who go against science by clinging to ideas of the Creation myth or so-called Intelligent Design. I don’t say it’s desirable, but I fear that, unless we stand up for free speech in all areas (with the usual caveats, of course: defamation, incitement to violence, shouting ‘Fire!’ in a theatre when there isn’t one, to use Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous example), we’re going to have someone knocking at our door one day, saying, ‘Oy, you can’t say that. You’re under arrest.’

  4. marc says:

    Andy, I consider you a friend in the internet sense (and certainly an ally) and I hold dear your right to free speech as much as Sacranie’s – even though I think the guy is a twat. TP was talking about Imams in general – not just Sacranie.

    Free speech is and always has been is the absolute freedom to challenge ideas. Religion and politics are ideas. Sexuality and skin colour are not.

    Caling gay people is OK for the less sensitive grown ups like you and I, but this extends to schools where teachers are actively singling out homosexuality as an evil practise. The Vardy schools are a case in point.

    What chance does a gay kid have in this sort of atmosphere? This is effectively incitement but because it comes from a religious standpoint it seems to get past. Imams preaching anti-gay messages might not be breaking the current law and this is something I think that should be examined as a matter of urgency.

    If Holy Tony allows faith groups to run schools this problem is going to get a whole lot worse in a very short space of time.

  5. george says:

    No, I didn’t care for Phillip’s defence of the right to slag of gays either. But I guess we’ll have to put up with it in order to defend our right to criticise Islam.

  6. Marc Draco says:

    Why should we George? Gays don’t choose their sexuality, nature does. Muslims choose to follow Islam and can choose to leave it (difficult though that is for many).

    What we need to do is draw lines of demarkation in free speech where it’s OK to debate things that we can change at will, but not OK to critique things that cannot.

  7. george says:

    I agree Marc, but unfortunately the religious lobby will never accept the “nature” argument. To them it’s a lifestyle choice and I’m tired of telling these loons that it isn’t.
    To be honest, Muslims seem to be forcing people in to accepting them as a race, which is clearly dangerous and untrue. Most aren’t white but that’s nothing to do with their religion. Unbelievably many people on the left seem more inclined to accept this argument (check out the lefties on Indy media, they’re scary), than the obvious fact that being gay is set before birth.

  8. Andy A says:

    What chance does a gay kid have in this sort of atmosphere? This is effectively incitement but because it comes from a religious standpoint it seems to get past. Imams preaching anti-gay messages might not be breaking the current law and this is something I think that should be examined as a matter of urgency.

    I take on board what you’re saying, Marc. Perhaps I should have thought a little deeper into it, and said that the schools example you give would amount to harm, and it’s the Harm Principle that John Locke advocated, i.e. say as you will but do no harm. Obviously, it’s hard not to do some harm in a free society if, say, a vulnerable person is listening to Sacranie, but he has a right to say it in that context of a radio interview, a speech or whatever. But I would agree with you that I wouldn’t want to invite him to say it in a school, or to have that attitude prevalent in a school or any institution where it could be harmful. I would suggest that schools should have a positive attitude towards gay kids and it should be part of the school ethos, with punishment for staff and schools who don’t abide by it. They of all places should be supportive of vulnerable young people.

  9. [...] (via MediaWatchWatch) Posted by Paul in Censorship and Freedom of Speech (1/3/2006 at 7:18 pm) [...]

  10. sconzey says:

    It seems to be taken as read on this thread that homosexuality is a genetic thing… Is this merely a generally accepted perspective on the subject, or can someone point me in the direction of a paper…?

  11. marc says:

    Yes Andy. We’re in agreement there.

    Poster at 10. There is a lot of debate surrounding this. Some science point to a gene (or geneplex) other points to nuture. Either way, gay people are the way they are it’s neither a lifestyle choice nor a mental disorder. You can’t “cure” someone of it.

    My research into this has suggested there is a strong Darwinian imperative for gay people to appear in societies. The male gay “gene” in hetro women makes them more sexually active; the gay men in the “herd” can look after the extra offspring.

    Darwinian imperatives aren’t always this “obvious” (if you call that obvious) but they are there in the higher animals. If gayness didn’t work, natural selection might have deslected it millenia ago; however there remains the possibility that like haemophillia, the gay gene actually has no purpose.

    I’m aware there are papers on this, but Debunk Creation at Yahoo Groups recently held this discussion and I think at least one was cited there. I don’t have the reference on this machine, sadly.

  12. Andy Gilmour says:

    Sconzey,

    I’d have thought that the plentiful examples of observed homosexual behaviour in other animals (recent famous cases including penguins and *ahem* pink flamingos) should be a simple clincher that there is inevitably a genetic component. As to the exact proportion of population and the influence of environmental factors/nurture, well, that’ll take a lot more research!

    Of course, there are some lovely theists in this world who’d be only to happy to assist in experiments involving “physical analysis” of “gay brains”. Human vivisection, anyone?
    :-)