September 6, 2005

Sticks And Stones

A few days ago, a reading of religious jokes was held to see if telling them would violate proposed British legislation against fomenting religious hatred.

Religious leaders from churches across the denominational spectrum, as well as secularists and comics such as Rowan Atkinson, are united in opposition to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which had its third reading in July.

The Bill, which will now go to the Lords, where it is expected to arouse strong opposition, recommends a maximum seven-year jail sentence for anyone convicted of intending to stir up religious hatred. More than 1,000 church leaders have petitioned Downing Street urging Tony Blair to abandon it.

A sensible approach to drawing attention to bad law, it seems to me. Sanctioning or deporting clerics who make public appeals to murder and holy war is understandable, but anytime you're proposing punishing words instead of deeds, you've jumped on the proverbial slippery slope.

The article includes the text of the winning entries for "funniest", but allowed that those judged "most offensive" weren't fit for publication. (via

Posted by dan at September 6, 2005 10:49 PM