Release The Hounds!

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Funnies From Both Sides Of The Channel

I wrote earlier that our friends the British unfortunately were suffering from historical amnesia when a poll showed that 45% had no idea what "Auschwitz" was or represented ("It's Not Just America That Has Been 'Dumbed Down' " 12/2/04). Well, this affliction is apparently not confined to the UK. A German poll reveals that over 50% of Germans equate what Israel is doing to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists to what the Nazis did to the Jews 60-plus years ago. But our British allies just can't help but provide grist for this mill. There is a bill being proposed in Parliament that would make it a crime to criticize a person's religion by equating it to "inciting hatred." It was left for Rowan Atkinson ("Mr. Bean") to make the painfully obvious distinction between mistreating someone for an immutable characteristic such as race (add: gender, size, ethnicity, disability etc.) and criticizing, parodying or satirizing someone's belief. If we can joke about or criticize someone's political beliefs with impunity, why not their religious beliefs? I know this may sound harsh to some, but we must make the distinction between what is merely perhaps coarse, crude and, yes, sometimes offensive and that which is truly harm-inducing. I may have thought that Andrew Dice Clay's patter was absolutely offensive, but he should not have been prevented from spewing it forth.

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