in

If I drive to work I may make everyone else slightly later; if

Canada Goose online Liberalism and the Freedom to Insult Religion Canada Goose online

canada goose black friday sale Thomas Wells teaches ethics and the philosophy of social science at the Institute for Philosophy at Leiden University, and at the University of Witten/Herdecke. canada goose black friday sale

Should insulting religion be banned? The reason the idea is still debated in the twenty first century is canada goose outlet store near me that it has been reframed as a debate within liberalism rather than against it.

canada goose store The arguments set forward by groups such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation nowadays have a liberal sound to them: Freedom from harm; Anti discrimination; State neutrality; and Tolerance. canada goose store

Canada Goose Parka But, in fact, they are not liberal at all. They do not respect individuals, nor are they compatible with a free society. Canada Goose Parka

The mere existence of harm is not a sufficient reason to create a legal ban. We live in a crowded world with complicated interactions that often have unintended consequences on third parties. If I drive to work I may make everyone else slightly later; if I invent a better car engine I may ruin my competitors and put many thousands of people out of work (while providing new jobs for others). And so on. There are very good practical reasons to develop a legal framework of rules for adjudicating the conflicts that come with social living. But such a system has to acknowledge that banning harm to others is a foolish and illiberal goal.

Foolish, because one cannot have canada goose outlet toronto address a thriving society, or even much of a society at all, without people bumping into each other. Offense is a particularly problematic harm because it is so subjective: feeling you have been offended becomes self legitimating evidence that someone else is guilty of harming you and deserves punishment by the state. the power canada goose outlet new york to make laws. We would have a society of dictators whose power over others is mirrored by their own lack of power to do what they want.

Illiberal, because it does not canada goose outlet real reflect the canada goose outlet near me core commitment of liberalism, which is not the avoidance of harm or even the promotion of aggregate happiness but the promotion of individual autonomy, maximising our freedom to live our own lives for ourselves.

canadian goose jacket First, maximising freedom means the greatest number of people having the greatest freedom possible, in the sense that individuals’ rights are as expansive as is compatible with everyone else having the same rights. As Kant would have it, others can give themselves canada goose clothing uk ends (goals and values) just like you, and therefore that somewhat transcendental capacity should be respected in others too. canadian goose jacket

Second, these rights should be evaluated in terms of their fundamental purpose. Specific rights associated with liberalism of conscience, property, http://www.canadagoosejacketoutlett.com speech, association, equality before the law and so on all follow from a foundational commitment to respect the individual autonomy of all, which is our ability to govern our lives, including our moral and religious lives, by rules we set ourselves. When there appears to be a conflict between rights, canada goose jacket outlet sale as in this case between canada goose outlet 2015 freedom of speech and freedom of religion, it is to this core liberal commitment that we should refer.

canada goose coats on sale Once we do so, we can see that not all harms are canada goose factory outlet vancouver equal. Harms to your autonomy, your ability to govern your own life, are more significant than harms to your happiness or self esteem. For instance, it may be true that the existence of canada goose outlet los angeles gay marriage (or even gay people) is deeply outrageous and disgusting for very large numbers of people. Yet gay marriage doesn’t undermine the autonomy of those who hate it in any meaningful way. Rather, it is banning gay marriage that clearly undermines individual autonomy, since it prevents many people from living the kind of lives they have reason to value (surprisingly enough, in radically conventional domestic arrangements). Liberalism argues that how canada goose outlet location gay people manage their personal relationships is no one else’s proper business. If you think it is your business and get upset about it, that is your problem and not their fault. canada goose coats on sale

Likewise, on the face of it, autonomy is not threatened by blasphemy. No one is being prevented from being a practising Muslim/Christian/whatever by the fact that somewhere on the internet someone disagrees with their religion, or that Salman Rushdie wrote a novel that some people say is rude about Mohammed. The only infringement of autonomy in play is the demand to censor those found insulting.

Third, even if one only considers freedom of religion, one will still be unable to justify a ban canada goose outlet mall on religious defamation. To be understood as a liberal right, freedom of religion must be construed as requiring freedom of religion for everyone canada goose outlet uk that is, reciprocal respect for the freedom of religion of other people. Yet, unlike the right to practise one’s own religion, the “right not to be offended” is not a right that everyone can have at the same time.

buy canada goose jacket This is because religious defamation basically means blasphemy, but blasphemy is defined relative to a particular religious group. In a society with freedom of religion, there will be a diversity of religious groups with contradictory beliefs. There will also be internal diversity within each official group. Because individuals are free to take up any of these, freedom of religion automatically produces believers with contradictory beliefs namely, heretics. buy canada goose jacket

Since the public affirmation of one’s religious beliefs is an intimate part of what it means to be free to follow the religion you consider true, heresy produces blasphemy. Consider for example the Muslim protests about Pope Benedict’s canada goose stockists uk Regensburg Lecture, or, at the inter sect level, Sunnis’ condemnation of blasphemous Shiite beliefs or Protestants’ condemnation of Mormonism.

Canada Goose Outlet In other words, one sect’s orthodoxy canada goose outlet eu is another sect’s blasphemy. One cannot say what constitutes religious defamation without deciding which religious denomination deserves the most respect, which is a political decision. The other side of that coin is disrespect canada goose outlet for the freedom of religion of heretics, and their oppression in the name of the religious sensitivities of the politically dominant sect. And this is in fact how blasphemy laws are always used. Canada Goose Outlet

canada goose clearance The argument: A liberal society protects its members from persecution by state or non state actors. That includes systematic attacks on aspects of their identity intended to induce fear or to undermine their equal status as citizens (or even as human beings). Many attacks on religion are in fact attacks on the people associated with those beliefs, often an ethnic minority. In France for example, and similarly elsewhere in Western Europe, mockery of Islam serves as a way of questioning and undermining the Frenchness of citizens of North African descent (even though most are not especially religious). canada goose clearance

cheap Canada Goose Protection against discrimination is a more nuanced and promising argument for restricting freedom of expression about religions. There are differences in how a liberal society should treat (in law and social opprobrium) such different expressions of ideas about the holocaust as Nazi cartoons posted through the letterbox of a Jewish family; the same cartoons published in a mainstream newspaper; political speeches questioning the holocaust; and academic papers doing the same in reputable history journals. cheap Canada Goose

Some of these may be clearly intended to undermine the equal status of a whole group by striking deliberately and viciously at features that distinguish them from other citizens. Since citizens require social standing as well as formal legal equality to exercise their rights properly for example, to have their interests and opinions fairly heard by the political system or just to go about their normal business in public without discrimination and humiliation there is indeed a strong case that such “hate speech” is in conflict with liberalism.

canada goose clearance sale This might apply to cases of politically directed hate mongering, such as by Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, or those Republican Tea Partiers who defined the “Ground zero” mosque as a “command center for canada goose outlet in usa terrorism.” (A general test for whether hate speech may apply is to replace the term “Islamic” with that of another group such as “Black” or “Jewish” for which our sensibility of persecution is better developed.) canada goose clearance sale

But notice that the reason this seems more plausible than the subjective offense argument is also what makes it harder to use to justify a general law against blasphemy. Evidence of feeling like a victim is not sufficient here. What is needed is objective testable evidence that the social standing of some group of people has in fact been deliberately attacked in some significant way. Hate speech legislation is about protecting people from persecution, not protecting people’s beliefs from challenge or pollution. Merely having your beliefs criticised (what do headscarves have to do with the Quran?) or even ridiculed on South Park doesn’t cut it. Nor can it include other people merely practising their own beliefs like the evangelical atheists going around saying, “You’re deluded; God doesn’t exist.”

The hate speech model would thus only cover a small set of the present complainants about blasphemy. There are particular difficulties applying it to material published on the internet and accessed around the world from where it was produced, as in the case of the Innocence of Muslims filmlet or the cartoons published in Denmark’s Jyllands Posten. The world map of canada goose outlet parka outrage has little overlap with the world map of vulnerable Muslim minorities.

canada goose The self publishing character of the internet, combined with efficient search engines like Google, produces the novel effect that nearly anything one puts there can be found, stripped of its context, by the very person you would least like to have see it. buy canada goose uk Anyone who wishes to can easily find something that offends them to the very core of their being on the internet. canada goose

The corollary of this is that such offensive self expression cannot really function as “hate speech” in the traditional sense. People are not subjected to it in inescapable ways, such as on their televisions or through their letter boxes. Instead, they must deliberately and consciously search for it. Nor is it readily linked to a political or social bullying campaign against a minority. I find it difficult to sympathise with the outrage that some people make themselves feel about stuff on the internet, or to see how a Youtube video that offends you is necessarily an attack on your equality.

The argument: The liberal state is supposed to ensure equal protection and equal opportunity canada goose jacket outlet toronto to all in living according to their own conceptions of the good. That requires neutrality: taking no position about which values are right or wrong, good or bad. It follows that a state that permits people to insult others’ canada goose outlet online store most foundational beliefs is failing in its duty of neutrality because it does not canada goose outlet online uk extend equal respect and protection to believers. Permitting blasphemy is like supplying weapons to your favourite side in a war.

buy canada goose jacket cheap This argument is confused about the character of canada goose womens outlet liberal neutrality. To be precise, it confuses principle neutrality with operational neutrality (to adapt Alex de Waal’s distinction). Principle neutrality means assessing all sides in a dispute objectively and neutrally according to the same principle. Operational neutrality means refusing to take sides in any dispute. Clearly these are quite different and one cannot have both. buy canada goose jacket cheap

canada goose deals To make this clearer, consider the television show, The Newsroom. The central theme is whether journalism is about objectivity (informing people about important facts) or balance (providing “both sides” of every story). The Newsroom takes an ethical stand: real journalism is about objectivity not balance. canada goose deals

canada goose coats Likewise, liberalism is not about balance. It does not consist either in abstaining from moral judgement or judging that all beliefs or value systems are equally good. To the contrary, liberals believe that liberalism respecting and supporting individual autonomy is best. canada goose coats

The perception that liberalism is about balance may have something to do with liberalism’s expansive toleration of strange and even obnoxious behaviour and values. You are free to practise Satanism, for example, or that one that involves covering yourself in sacrificial chicken blood. Yet the freedom to be strange is actually quite consistent with liberalism’s principled neutrality about upholding individual autonomy.

On other subjects, liberalism is far from silent. Negatively, if your religion requires cutting off bits of your children’s genitalia or forcing girls into arranged marriages, liberalism condemns you and liberal governments have a duty to intervene. Positively, liberal states should guarantee a generally valuable set of opportunities and rights equally to all citizens (such as education and legal rights), with which we can each construct an approach to life that we believe is a good one.

Comment Using Facebook