Vilification--is to win to lose?

August 21, 2006

The Dannys vilification case in Victoria is a test case for religous pluralism in Australia. What kind of criticism of other religions is acceptable? Are all religions treated equally on this issues? Should they be?

As a strong advocate of free speech, but an equally strong believer that it is a relative not an absolute right, I want to see a society where religions can be vigorously attacked, defended, promoted and even rejected. However, my biggest fear in the Dannys case is that it will achieve the opposite of what Christians wish. My fear is that if the Dannys win their appeal, it will send the bizarre message that Christians think it is OK to vilify muslims. Of course, that would be a misreading of what has happened, but it is the kind of vibe that could so easily come across.

That would be a tragedy, because the Christian message is meant to come with respect and gentlenessand honorable conduct. It's not up to me to suggest who has conducted in what way, but I've read Judge Higgin's decision and some of the transcripts of the offending seminar, and I found myself pondering the challenge of speaking the truth in love.

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