Tuesday, October 04, 2005

# Incitement Hate Laws In UK

Post London 7/7, the government unveiled plans to ban incitement to racial hatred, to protect people from being abused because of religious faith. It would become illegal to knowingly use words/ behaviour which are threatening and abusive against individual because of their beliefs. When asked to explain the new laws, Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer told BBC that people "attacjlomg the values of West" or "glorifying the acts of suicide bombers" would face actions of laws and "deported wherever possible".

Interestingly, these laws seem to have unclear distinction between criminalising words and deeds. With the principal of justice in which prople are held accountable in law for actions rather than opinions, the new thought-crimes-laws seem to hit the freedom of speech right in the face. It is a scary thought to know that now, we can be imprisoned for expressing our though and opinions.

Suddenly we found ourselves attacking at our own democratic principle of freedom of speech. The society today seems to have become so frail to withstand speeches/ opinions and thoughts. Fighting terrorism needs problem-tackling at early stages, but ruling out people' voice does not directly solve the problem. Tackling problems at the root level does not mean censoring speeches or covering up the ears of public. Banning people's voices only gives the impression that their opinions are something worth listening to.

With such increase in pre-emptive action, the world has suddenly become so full of distrust and suspicion. We penalize people for their thoughts, we attack people because we fear to be attacked. Such actions shows our own insecurity and lack of confidence for our own regimes, principles and social structures.

What we need i a more comprehensive plans and actions to counter terrorism and reduce inter-racial hatred. Banning speeches and deporting clerics do not guarantee that the problem will be 'shooed' away. We need open debate, we need understanding among races and religions. In fact, everything boils down to the most fundamental values in society - to respect one another, to tolerate and to understand one another. It is surprising that many of us today cannot even perform such simple task and follow such basic moral values.

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