Now, yesterday I had something to say about the publication of the controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed which have caused outrage around the Islamic world.
Well, I am deeply encouraged today to note that they are unlikely to be found offensive under Victoria’s anti-vilification laws.
As you would remember, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act is intended to deal with behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion and severe ridicule of others because of their race and religion.
But according to the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria’s chief executive, Dr Helen Szoke, she said today that there was a difference between causing offence and vilification.
According to her, “The behaviour has to be much more serious than causing offence, (it has to be) affronting someone’s sense of decency or hurting their feelings in order for it to be considered vilifying.”
She went on to say that “Incitement is more than just merely holding a view or expressing an opinion; it is the encouragement or promotion of hatred towards others” .. and that ..”The law is not designed to restrict freedom of speech, genuine debate or discussion, but to stamp out the most serious forms of racial and religious vilification.”
Dr Szoke said that a cartoon would need to be extremely serious in order to meet the benchmark for vilifying behaviour.
Now all of that is good, but if her comments hold true, then we need to be calling for the national print media to stop their cow-towing to intimidation and to stand up and exercise their rights for free-speech so long as they are simply “reporting a story” and not “attempting to purposefully offend” our Muslim brothers and sisters.
I just find it ridiculous that a cartoon which has insited such violent reaction around the world isn’t considered vilification .. but a seminar that quotes directly from the Koran to help Christians understand Muslims better and that also encourages Christians to love Muslims with the love of Christ can in turn BE considered as vilification. It’s madness.
I believe we need to be calling for Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Commission to get themselves involved in the court case against Catch the Fire Ministries and the two Pastors Danny and have their conviction for vilification according to the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act completely overturned and quashed.
Listen to the audio of this comment from the air program on Vision by clicking on the player below.
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