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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Conrad Black: Parliament can’t simply demand people feel good about Islam

...Islamophobia and religious and racial discrimination generally are contemptible, but they are usually not crimes, and the reasonable Muslim majority can scarcely be surprised at a tendency to regard large swaths of Islam with suspicion, when the Muslim leadership is almost mute about the mistreatment of Christian and Jewish communities in Muslim countries, and shriek like banshees at any suggestion that they are being assimilated to Islamic terrorists when their own efforts to restrain or suppress Islamist terror is so frequently sporadic and ineffectual.

I get around fairly well and I have heard nothing in this country from anyone that has been as abusive as some of the letters and emails to this newspaper two years ago when I wrote that advocates of the existence of a divine intelligence are generally successful in debates with famous atheists. I did not state any religious views of my own (though it is no secret that I am a Christian) and was pilloried by many as a superstitious idiot. But I didn’t petition Parliament or inflict myself on a Human Rights Commission. There are serious limits to what Parliament or government can do in a free country about people’s opinions. The freedoms Ms. Khalid cites include the right to think and speak negatively about other people and groups. Parliament cannot and should not aspire to turn the country into a judgment-free zone, a vast Pleasantville. Democracy is self-government and that cannot occur without the right of everyone to say and believe what they want, as long as it is not seditious, defamatory, or an incitement to illegal behaviour...

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