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Monday, December 20, 2004

The Slide Down The Slippery Slope Continues...This Time In Australia

This is what will happen if we don't put the brakes on out of control politically correct thinking. In Australia, a Christian group was found guilty of "religious vilification" for having made comments derogatory of Islam. The penalty seems to be a monetary fine of some least for now. This is similar to the law being debated in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe. The problem here is whose ox is being gored? One person's "vilification" is another's "fair comment." Note the following statement by the Australian judge: It was done, not in the context of a serious discussion of Muslims' religious beliefs... It was presented in a way which is essentially hostile, demeaning and derogatory of all Muslim people, their god, Allah, the prophet Mohammed and in general Muslim religious beliefs and practices. When we place the task of discerning the offender's state of mind in the hands of the judiciary, we're in for big trouble. Yes, we have the requirement of "intent" in our criminal law, but that is a different concept than this Australian law contemplates. In a murder trial, a jury may need to determine if the defendant formed the intent to kill and, if so, when was that intent formed. Was the act premeditated? That is often a hard enough decision when there is physical or corroborative evidence of intent, such as the purchase of a hand gun the day before, lying in wait for the victim, etc. However, deciding whether a negative comment about a religion was or was not part of a "serious discussion" requires looking into the soul of the speaker...and trust me, the eyes are NOT often a window. There is little basis to apply an objective standard and, like the Christmas tree story below, it will devolve into simply whether someone took offense. Finally, when did Muslims become a "race"?

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