Butterflies and Wheels

Excellent points made by Ophelia Benson over at Butterflies and Wheels about who deserves legal protection from having their beliefs offended.

Which religions, for instance, get to kick up a fuss and be listened to when some of their adherents are ‘offended,’ and which don’t? Scientology? Aum Shinrikyo? Branch Davidians? And then how do you draw the line between religions and other beliefs? Which imaginary or supernatural or metaphysical beings get to be protected from offensive comments and which don’t? What about Frodo? Spock? Yosemite Sam? ET? What are the criteria? And what are the reasons for the criteria, if and when there are any criteria? A belief is entitled to protection provided it is based purely on fantasy and wishful thinking, but if it is based on evidence then it must take care of itself? Is that the idea? Or is it only some kinds of fantasy and not other kinds. But if so, why? How exactly is that justified?

One commenter seemed to hit the nail on the head:

I think the government have already hinted at the answer. The more violent the reaction to the offending remark, the more entitled to protection the sacred belief is.

If, as seems to be the case, the BBC did indeed breach their charter by broadcasting JS:TO, the charter almost certainly has to be changed.

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