A Faustian Bargain

Maude: Yes, those wonderful hate laws, a legacy of those moronic Canadian politicians that threatened prosecution, crippling fines, even jail to anyone who dared voice even a mild criticism of some backwoods tradition or religious excess. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil – a Canadian tradition that allowed evil to grow unchallenged.

Johnny: Evil to grow unchallenged, that’s a strong statement. Who or what do you consider evil?

Maude: [getting upset] The people who blow themselves up killing innocent people ARE EVIL; the clerics who encourage self-immolation while blowing to bits innocent women and children ARE EVIL; not to be allowed to question the values of a religion that encourages such barbaric practices, and to be dragged into court if you do, is ABETTING EVIL!

From the Maude Barnstone interview excerpt Praise the Lord and Slap the Wife.

As human beings we have a right, and as citizens of a democracy an obligation to express an opinion on issues affecting our lives and the lives of our countrymen and women. That right, that obligation includes, must include questioning religious dogma. Of all human endeavors, religion has the greatest potential to change our lives for better or for worse. By giving all citizens the freedom to question the authenticity, the relevancy, the meaning and application of religious dogma we guard against the worse.

We also recognize that a free society must have the scope to debate, to criticize, proselytize, insult and even ridicule belief and religious practices in order to ensure that there is full scope – short of violence or inciting violence or other criminal offences - to tackle these issues.

From a plea by an alliance of Muslims, Christians, humanists and secularists urging the British Parliament to reject legislation limiting the rights to criticize religious beliefs and traditions.

Hate legislation is a Faustian bargain at best. It is a bargain that the State makes with those who see criticisms of their Faith as justification for murder. The State will silence the critics with fines and threats of imprisonment if the believers will put away their guns, knives and bombs. These laws have nothing to do with stopping the spread of hatred and everything to do with the appeasement of the enemies of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Muslim protesters march towards the Danish embassy in London.

The Ottawa Citizen, Saturday February 6, 2006

Bernard Payeur