To uniquely protect Islam against mockery, Sydney newspaper suggests that Muslims be considered members of a race rather than a religion

I don’t know how popular or respected the Sydney Morning Herald is (Aussies weigh in), but it’s just published an editorial that’s as intellectually misguided as it is poorly written. Have a look at the short online op-ed, “Jedi knights don’t need protection from free speech“, published five days ago. Now the title is provocative, but its message is simple. Muslims aren’t protected from “hate speech” because Australian law doesn’t protect religion. It does, however, protect hate speech against race. Therefore Australia should classify Muslims as “ethno-religious” groups, which apparently fall under the aegis of “race,” so that Muslims—unlike members of other faiths—get special protection from being insulted and offended.

Australia’s “hate speech” laws apparently vary among the states, but there’s also a national law stipulating the grounds for redress. As Wikipedia notes:

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 forbids hate speech on several grounds. The Act makes it “unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person, or of some or all of the people in the group.” An aggrieved person can lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission. If the complaint is validated, the Commission will attempt to conciliate the matter. If the Commission cannot negotiate an agreement which is acceptable to the complainant, the complainant’s only redress is through the Federal Court or through the Federal Magistrates Service.

Note that you can be prosecuted or forced into negotiation if you “insult, offend, humiliate, or intimidate” someone when the grounds are race, colour (I presume that’s equivalent to “race,”), nationality, or ethnic origin. You cannot say things to offend Asians, blacks, whites, Greeks, or the like. You can say things that will offend Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and so on.  Now I object to all such hate speech laws, but at least the Aussies allow you to mock religion without fear of prosecution.

The Sydney Morning Herald doesn’t like that, because it doesn’t protect Muslims enough (they apparently don’t care about protecting other religions). But before they get into the reclassification argument, they also claim that “not all religions deserve equal respect.” They apparently make this argument because Islam isn’t getting enough “respect” (cue Rodney Dangerfield). This is what they say:

Not all religions deserve equal respect.  There are some religions for which severe ridicule of adherents may well be an appropriate response.  Jedi knights, for example? Or Scientologists, perhaps.  Some beliefs which are claimed to be religious, and their adherents, ought to be open to ridicule, even severe ridicule.  The position of adherents to religion is quite different to the position of members of ethno-religious groups.  People choose to believe in a religion, but membership of an ethno-religious group is involuntary.

First of all, they’re wrong. All religions deserve equal respect: NO respect. People deserve respect, but not religions, for all religions that make truth claims and promulgate a morality supposedly derived from gods are fatuous.

Catholicism and Islam are no more deserving of respect than are Scientology or Christian Science. Why is the claim that someone was nailed to the cross, killed, revived, and now is the sole vehicle for eternal salvation in Heaven any more deserving of respect than the claim that the overlord Xenu stashed people in volcanoes and then blew them up, releasing body thetans that now afflict us? Or that disease is merely an instantiation of misguided thinking, and can be cured by prayer. None of the bases of these faiths—their fact claims—survive the merest scrutiny, and none of their behavior claims, including assertions about the afterlife or the efficacy of prayer, are credible to someone not brought up in the asylum. In fact, severe ridicule of doctrine (not “adherents”) is the appropriate response to most religions; or, if you’re not into mockery, calm analysis and rejection of their claims.

Muslims are different, says the Herald, because they belong to an “ethno-religious” group rather than a purely religious group. It’s not okay to criticize the former because, says the paper, membership in their tribe is “involuntary”.

But that won’t wash, either, for adhering to Islam is no less voluntary than adherence to any other faith. You’re a Muslim for the same reason you’re a Hindu or a Baptist: you were brought up that way. Yes, religions have connections with ethnic groups, but belief itself is an ideology that is inculcated into people by similar means, no matter where you live.

And so, to protect Muslims, the paper suggests making Islam, in effect, a “race” (my emphasis below):

The existing law already treats ethno-religious origin as being within the definition of “race” for the purpose of the prohibition on racial vilification. It is time that Muslims are incontestably recognised under NSW law as being members of an ethno-religious group.  Such recognition would resolve the uncertainty that exists about the scope of NSW’s current racial vilification laws. That would be a far preferable way of dealing with the present problem of vilification of Muslims in our society than introducing general laws prohibiting religious vilification.

There is widespread concern about the existing law not being effective because there have been no successful prosecutions in NSW despite several cases, which should have justified the imposition of criminal penalties under racial vilification laws.

. . . It had been hoped that the NSW government would, finally, do the right thing and bring forward legislation that would do more to protect the numerous ethnic communities of NSW from vilifying attacks.  Now it seems that there is every prospect that the push for reform will be derailed by the distraction of calls for protection against religious vilification.  That would be a most unfortunate outcome.

I’m not going to argue here about whether “races” exist or are mere social constructs. I’ve stated my position on this before, which is that humanity is genetically differentiated throughout its range, to the extent that someone’s ethnicity, or geographic origin, can be pretty well diagnosed by their genes, even if we can’t partition humanity into a finite or discontinuous group of “races.” But let’s not get into that. The issue on the table is this: why are Muslims more a “race” than are adherents to other religions?

The answer is that they aren’t.  We have Muslims from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Bosnia, and Albania, who could be considered “Caucasian” in ethnicity, though their cultures and genes are widely divergent; we have Black Muslims in the U.S. as well as Muslims in Somalia and other African nations, who could be considered “black,” though their cultures and genes differ from each other and widely from those of Bosnia; and we have Muslims in Indonesia (the world’s biggest Muslim nation) and southeast Asia, who would be considered ethnically “Asian.” All they have in common is their religious belief, and even that differs among locations, beginning with the divisisons among Shia, Sunni, and Sufi. The claim that Muslims are some kind of homogeneous “race” or “ethnic group” fails even for those who accept a concept of distinct races.

Let us be clear. The misguided Herald op-ed is twisting definitions to one end, and one end only: to protect Muslims more than members of other faiths. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s because Muslims are more vilified in Australia than members of other faiths (certainly true), or perhaps it’s out of fear of the violent reprisal that often results when Muslims are offended. But it doesn’t matter. All religions deserve equal protection under the law—the right to exist and practice as they will. They do not deserve equal “respect” in any other way. And Islam certainly doesn’t deserve a special status as a race or “ethno-religious” racial subgroup.

h/t: Phil


  1. Joseph Stans
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    It might also benefit Muslims if they were to be classified as incipient marsupials. this might bring them tax benefits and special housing.

    And it is certainly no more stupid than reclassifying them as special race.

  2. fjordaniv
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Regressives often treat criticism of Islam as racism already, so we shouldn’t be surprised by this.

    The question is, if they attain special protection as a “race,” will their newfound status protect them from the consequences of making homophobic or misogynistic remarks? How will Australia prioritize offenses?

  3. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Instead of making a bad situation worse by applying bad laws to a newly minted fake ethnicity, how about changing the law so that all speech is protected which does not advocate or threaten violence to indiviuals?

  4. Damien McLeod
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Excellent post, Dr. Coyne, I agree wholeheartedly.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 23, 2016 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      Me too.

  5. Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Based on the comments that I glanced through on the newspaper article itself it seems that most of the local audience were not convinced by the rationale

  6. Kev
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    The same arguments need to be applied to the term ‘Jewish’: I know this is a fairly touchy and confusing subject. Generally anti-Jewish would be accepted as racist. However there is the confusion as to whether the word relates to religious origin or ethnic. Then there are ‘Semitic’ which is generally used erroneously, since it should include all semitic races, not just the Jews, and then ‘Zionist’ which is supposed to be more a political term but then easily overflows into a religious/racist issue: see the recent polemic in the UK Labour party. Anti Zionist statements can be readily interpreted as anti ‘semitic’: we are the chosen race therefore we have a right to Israel’: who does not agree is anti-semitic.

    I think there are similar issues and confusions with the Islamic world, in which Islamic or Islamist is used as a catch-all identifier. Many of the issues are political though grouped under a term which implies religion. ‘Islamic’ issues in the Middle East couls be seen as Arabo-Islamic. They would have little to do with Indonesian Islamic for instance.

    Christian also has similar issues: the USA is officially secular, but the chances of having an openly non-Christian president are pretty non-existent. So the ‘Islamic’ world can be forgiven for applying the term ‘Christian’ to it, which I am sure is how many ‘Islamic’ people see the ‘West’: a broadly ‘Christian’ culture. Christian here is more a cultural identifier, referencing broad common interests between groups of various ethnicity and flavours of Christianity (including secular).

    • Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I too realize this is a touchy subject, especially from an outsider on all counts like me, but it seems to me that this is the precedent that people in favour of the proposed suggestion might have in mind. Certainly it is more complicated in the Muslim case: there are many many more places of origin, *in a sense*, but only in one sense, and one that does raise questions which are tricky. (I remember the Chinese Jews I saw mentioned in the Montreal Gazette years ago: they were east-Asian in appearance, etc.)

    • somer
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      The Jewish are only 10 million people tops – a faith which until recently you had to be born into – and one people very rarely convert into.
      Also with an almost continuous history of oppression and periodic severe persecution

  7. frednotfaith2
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yep. Everyone should have the right to believe what they want, even if it is incredibly stupid, but no one’s beliefs should ever be free from well-reasoned criticism. And such criticism should not be confused with genuine hate-mongering or incitement to violence.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Or badly reasoned criticism, for that matter.

    • Ian Clark
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      The State (i.e. any country) equally has the right, and the moral obligation, to immunize children in the school system from religious indoctrination.

  8. Kevin
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Divide the world into a new rating system.

    A Atheist rating. Anything that does not make normative claims to incite violence.

    E-7 Seven year old emotional skill set. Everything else.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Interpreted strictly, this could allow criticism based clearly an unequivocally on religious practice, but not on ethnic custom.

    Apply this criterion to Jewish jokes. It bans jokes based on alleged Jewish money-grubbing, but still allows circumcision-related Jewish jokes (my favorite ones BTW).


    I agree that the truth-claims of religion are equally up for grabs, but I certainly respect the moral codes of some religions far more than others. Plus it leaves religions with minimal creeds less vulnerable to attack.

    I’ve never been a member of the Quakers, but they both have a minimalist creed (some but not all identify as Christians) and they’ve been at the forefront of abolition of slavery, prison reform, and more recently environmentalism.
    (Nonetheless today 80% of Quakers identify as evangelical Christians, though relatively few do in its American capital, Philadelphia where I went to high school. They’ve gone rightward since their heyday. In Darwin’s day, older Quakers rejected evolution heavily, but they were at the forefront of promoting it in the American MidWest.)
    Nonetheless I respect them a heck of a lot more than Scientologists or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    • bluemaas
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Before one certain apology to me from my own father re his and my mother’s “you were brought up that way” and for my trying to save three children (all little boys) from a war – mongering President Reagan threatening us mamas at the time with bringing back the draft within the United States, I was for 20 years’ time then inside, as one of its formal and specifically pacifist members, a Friend.

      By this parental method of “religious identification,” I was entirely successful in keeping All Three for all of their youths and for all of their young adulthoods out of the grasp of any military realm or claim.

      What I personally experienced, however, during those two decades ? onto myself ? from “pacifists,” from all three Meetings’ worth of the same “version” of Quakerism ? Sexism — blatant — and shunning — also blatant.

      Thus, with Daddy’s admission re himself and all of my favorite male relatives as well as my own mother as, for nearly all of their own lifetimes, all atheists themselves and with his apology to me (into my 40s already) for their having tried to inculcate my three siblings and me so that he and my mother could “live in this community,” (his exact verbiage as “reasoning” for their behaviors: “We had to live in this community”), … … then voilà, I outed myself to this last, this third Meeting of Quakers as an atheist.

      Thus, the Boys protected from militarism, from Quakerism and all religions’ -ism, I was gone.


      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted August 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        And at least as bad…Richard Nixon was a Quaker.

        I lived for 10 years in the Cleveland OH area and consistently found the Quakers there to be quite regressive and authoritarian. I had much better experiences with Quakers in Philadelphia and the San Francisco area.

        Of less relevance to this discussion, when I was in high school and really mad at one person or another, my father used to say to me. “Remember, Jon, there’s an old Quaker saying, ‘F-ck thee'”.

        • Posted August 22, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Jon, I have been surprised by the defensiveness of Quakers,given their liberal and supine reputation. Remember, Hitch sent his kids to a Quaker school, so you would assume that as religionists go they would be acceptable.

          I haven’t found that to be the case.

          It goes back to what Hitch and Harris pointed out 10 years ago, that all religionists defend the faithist idea – and which,in our political desire to support liberal Muslims like Maajid Nawaz, we have lost sight of.

          when you point out to modern Quakers the incompatibility of their ideas with the New Testament, that Jesus of the Gospels, Paul and the mainly pseudepigraphic forgeries have nothing to do with their broadly moon-faced pacifistic naivety, they will reply that they don’t care. Remarkable.

          Yet when you criticize Saudi Arabia for implementing Sharia, they will accuse you of the most egregious prejudice against Muslims.

          Sometimes I think Voltaire’s France of the 1760s was more tolerant of anti-Islamic criticism than the 2010s Western Europe. If Gibbon were alive today, the Quakers would have him up before the beak. If Tom Holland wasn’t so nice, and if he didn’t love cricket and old churches, they’d have him too.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    “Hate speech” laws are a bad idea per se. But if you’re going to have such misbegotten laws, I understand the impulse to include Muslims among the protected categories. Most anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t based so much on pure religious bias, as it is on xenophobia against recently arrived foreigners — or at least that’s the case here in the US. In this respect, it resembles the nativist anti-Catholic bias that plagued the nation during the mass migration of Irish and central European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    • Posted August 22, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      As usual, a good point, Ken.

      Here in Britain, we work under hate speech laws. take the late 60s and 70s. You would often hear racists calling ‘Paki’ in the street to recently-arrived immigrants who were Muslims. Yet nobody shouted out ‘Muzzie’ at them.

      It took the 2000s to see the start of yobs calling South Asians ‘Muzzies’. Yet here in multi-ethnic Birmingham, I am reasonably certain that nobody would ever consider shouting out, ‘Hindu’ at an Indian. And we do have many Hindus. Of course a reason is that the second and third generation British-Pakistani Muslims (as well as later immigrants from different nationalities, such as Somalis) are more likely to dress in an Arab style than were their parents and grand-parents. Barely anybody had heard of Sharia 10 years ago and now many have.

      So, if you are a racist yob, nowadays you’ll shout, ‘Muzzie’ instead of ‘Paki’.

      The problem is, as I know to my cost, that if one does try reasonably to criticize Islam to even a western-dressed young Muslim, one will be called ‘racist’. The conversation is conducted at such a temperature that people don’t listen to what you actually say and the first resort of the religionist is to scream, ‘racist’. The cultural zeitgeist of hate speech laws is so pervasive that the intellectually dishonest Muslim is assumed by those listening to be correct and, what’s worse, truthful.

      That’s the long-term damage to the public discourse caused by hate speech laws. They encourage the dishonest and create a cultural miasma in which criticism becomes ‘hate’. I wish the hate speech laws – Kafkaesque, serpentine and mealy-mouthed for anyone who has bothered to read the damned things – could be repealed, but I think they have become too deeply entrenched in people’s way of thinking.

      I was surprised to see Jerry write, ‘Perhaps it’s because Muslims are more vilified in Australia than members of other faiths (certainly true)…’ Do we have any poll numbers for this?

      • phil
        Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:24 am | Permalink

        A couple of points to make (but maybe I should expect the Spanish Inquisition): the author of the piece is not (AFAIK) an employee of Fairfax (which publishes the SMH). His piece was presented in the Opinion section, so while the SMH might agree with the sentiments expressed it’s also likely they published it simply on the grounds of free expression.

        Secondly, my observation is that probably Muslims are more commonly vilified than other those of other faiths in Australia (I live in Sydney). We’ve recently had Pauline Hanson re-elected to the Federal Parliament, and one of her platforms was to hold a Royal Commission into Islam, although I reckon she has no chance of getting that up, and what would it achieve anyway? She also beefs about halal certification.

        At the same time there are occasionally people arrested, detained, interviewed and even gaoled for engaging in, funding, or promoting terrorist activities. These people are usually of middle eastern appearance, have arabic sounding names, and usually express Islamist sentiments or are supporting ISIS.

        Lastly, I heard recently that Australia experienced some of the same catholic v. protestant strife that afflicted the US in the late 19th century, but at least in some states legislation was enacted that prohibited stirring unrest against people others disliked, and that was credited with reducing the violence (at least in contrast to the US experience). I’m not really sure, and other influences were probably in play. For example, poverty often exacerbates these sorts of problems, and Australia was a very rich country in the late 19th century (per head of population).

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 23, 2016 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      That would be my take on it too, and I expect that’s what the SMH was getting at.


  11. Amer
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Does hate literature have to be associated with race only? Surely hate crime is about intention to malign, harass, disadvantage and persecute and that could be aimed at any identifiable group. You don’t need to redefine Muslims into a race because there is only one human race. However, you can redefine hate crime in relation to Muslims to protect them as this law does for other vulnerable groups.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      “Surely hate crime is about intention to malign, harass, disadvantage and persecute and that could be aimed at any identifiable group.”

      Sort of like the Koran describes for non-muslims? Would you be OK with laws like this being used to shut down mosques and Imams that used the kind of speech you describe to describe me, an infidel?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Anything meant to “malign, harass, disadvantage, and persecute” may constitute “hate speech,” but it’s legally actionable only if based on “race, colour or national or ethnic origin.”

      “Hey, ya gotta draw the line somewhere,” must be the way they looked at it.

  12. Tom
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular proposal, there has already been pressure applied from various interests to define Muslims as a race mainly as a way of having Israel condemned as a racist state.

  13. DrBrydon
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    It is a tacit admission that criticism of religion is not racist.

  14. John Scanlon FCD
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    One way in which Muslims might require extra protection under the law – not that the article touches on this – is that (to a greater degree than other religious communities) they are under duress: the accepted dogma of the religion says they should be killed if they leave. To the extent that makes it practically impossible to leave (which in Australia is not a very large extent) their condition resembles that of members of an ethnic or racial group. Trying to fix this in law would be a bad move though, because some members of all religions would like to be as tough on apostates as shariah is.

    • Posted August 22, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      This is a rationale for giving extra protection to ex-Muslims, not to Muslims.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 23, 2016 at 2:17 am | Permalink

        I think that’s a different issue.

        Protection for Muslims from racially-motivated discrimination from outsiders, since they’re stuck with being Muslims and can’t easily leave.

        And protection for those who do leave from other Muslims.


  15. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if this is partly political. Sydney, in New South Wales is more liberal than Queensland, which has just elected an ultra right wing hate politician of the le Pen/Farage/Trump ilk: Pauline Hanson.

    Queensland has been called a state of hate – she’s not the first of her type there. They had another candidate from the same party (One Nation) who actually thought Islam was a country. The same woman announced Jews were okay because they believed in Jesus.

    • phil
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      I have this theory, which is mine (and may be racist): the closer to the equator white people (like me) live the crazier they get.

  16. Fry
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    We Aussies suffer a noisy minority of regressive and authoritarian lefties just as badly as the USA, UK or Europe. Their mouthpieces are the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne. They are our New York Times and on their worst days can out-regressive even The Guardian. The good news at least for The Age is plummeting circulation and dire financial position. Fewer and fewer are tolerating their bullshit.

    • phil
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      I don’t find the Fairfax press as dire as you seem to be suggesting, but if they go only the Murdoch press would be left, which would be an appalling state of affairs.

      • somer
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        These days the Age has slipped so much it sometimes does a huge advertisement as its COVER sheet. The SMH at least has substantial content and mostly good still. Im probably biased, i was never a Melbourne person. The Murdoch press is right wing, and I get peeved that the ABC (public television and radio) and SBS (multicultural part public funded TV and radio) are so pro religion tho they do slam sex abuse in Christian institutions.

  17. John Hamill
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    There’s precedent in human rights law for prohibiting States in selecting some religions to be valid and others not. In the case of “Manoussakis and Others versus Greece” in 1996, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that:

    “The right to freedom of religion as guaranteed under the Convention excludes any discretion on the part of the State to determine whether religious beliefs or the means used to express such beliefs are legitimate.”

    That is, States can make laws about religion but they can’t decide what is and what is not a valid religion. Jedi or otherwise. How could a civil servant or a politician credibly decide which gods are real, which are not, and legislate on this basis?

    • phil
      Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      So how does the Convention protect the right of a state to prohibit the murdering of apostates and infidels, or the stoning of adulterers?

  18. Kiwi Dave
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s rather depressing to discover that the author of this column is president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

    Less depressingly however, plenty of his readers are unimpressed by hate speech laws, exempting religion from criticism, and the conflation of religion and race.

  19. keith cook + / -
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The only ‘race’ they should be talking about is the one to obliterate religion, no gold medal here.
    Yep, you have the right to fairytales but keep it to yourself and disturbing others with this self inflicted farce.

  20. Village
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Jews, and Judaism get special protection under Australian Law by the ethno-religious fiddle. So it isn’t without precedent. Part of the problem with debate on section 18C of the act is that the common meaning of vilify and offend don’t meet the minimum threshold for legal action (very few cases have been brought under 18C and evn fewer have gone to a court determination). Generally to fall foul of 18C you have to be a person of influence like a newspaper columnist, radio presenter, or preist in his pulpit.

    Australia is a Commonwealth Country and instead of a _Right_ Freedom of Speech we have a _Responsibility_ to not spread division among Her Majesty’s diverse subjects in order to protect the Queen’s Peace.

    We are also a secular representative democracy, which means that calls to ban religion are received with the same finger twirling at the side of the head as calls for Sharia Law or Biblical Dominion.

    • Posted August 22, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Any genetic analysis, however, would show Jews to be much more homogeneous than Muslims. But that doesn’t matter, for there should be no protection based on some arbitrary degree of genetic homogeneity. “Hate speech” laws are anti-free-speech laws, and should be abolished.

      And whoever said anything about “banning religion”? Did you read the post.

      As for the Queen’s peace, well, the Queen can take a number, get in line, and . . .

      • Francisco
        Posted August 23, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Which Jews ? European, Iranian, Ethiopian, Indian, etc. ? Jewish people are as diverse as Muslim people.
        Europeans Jews are mainly Italian descents with German names who (use to) write Gernan with the Hebrew alphabet. This review gives a good summary.

        So Muslim as a race sounds as stupid.

    • somer
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      In Australia Jewish schools for little children have to have guards visibly wearing guns strapped outside precisely because they face real problems. There is no “Jewish fiddle”

      • somer
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

        a hand gun strapped to their leg. not “guns strapped outside”

  21. Posted August 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  22. Posted August 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    “All religions deserve equal respect: NO respect.”

    I’ve been saying essentially the same thing for years, borrowing a slightly modified line from R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket:

    “Here, your religions are all EQUALLY worthless.”

  23. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Muslims are different, says the Herald, because they belong to an “ethno-religious”

    That can only be thought up by someone who has only met (for example) Saudi Muslims. Whereas Pakistani Muslims are moderately different, Russian Muslims are very different, Indonesian Muslims as different, and I dread to think how to describe Japanese, Korean and Eskimo Muslims.
    How did that physicist put it? “Not even wrong.”

  24. Posted August 22, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    To answer your question about the Sydney Morning Herald, it is one of the main local newspapers in Sydney. It would be perceived as somewhat to the left in its orientation…. between the middle and the Guardian (which is only online here). The newspaper of the right in Sydney is the Telegraph. Like almost all print newspapers, the SMH is under pressure, and possibly more inclined to accept “content” from dodgy sources. It was once regarded as a high quality newspaper, and sort of still is, but its owners have been shedding journalists like crazy in recent years.

  25. Posted August 23, 2016 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Sydney newspaper suggests that Muslims be considered members of a race rather than a religion

    “… an editorial that’s as intellectually misguided as it is poorly written.”

    You are too kind to these twits.

  26. Cameron
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    just to add some points. I haven’t the time to read all the comments.

    I can’t remember which Islamic scholar it was that argued that the death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam) or Heresy (for following the wrong sect of Islam) is the only thing preventing vast numbers of Muslims from abandoning the faith entirely.

    If anyone knows who it was I’m trying to remember argued that, I would appreciate the reminder.

    Anyway, therefore Muslims have less choice over their own values in the public sphere than non-muslims.

    “People choose to believe in a religion, but membership of an ethno-religious group is involuntary”

    Regardless of their ethnic origins, anyone born and raised as a Muslim has less choice than most other humans over their religious affiliation and lifestyle choices that may conflict with traditions and scriptures… Because an individual who leaves the faith could be murdered by their family or community. Islamic societies are pretty notorious for honour murders for apostasy.

    • somer
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      I remember that the highly esteemed Muslim Brotherhood scholar Yusuf Al Quaradawi of Quwait has said that Islam needs the death penalty for apostasy, = he has an audience of 60 million muslims in various Middle Eastern audiences via Arabic language Al Jazeera (a very different kettle from English language Al Jazeera)

  27. Al
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person, or of some or all of the people in the group.”

    Seems that regressive leftists and Islamists shouting that Israelis are “baby-killers” (every time they respond to a Hamas attack) or calling for boycotts of Israeli universities are breaking this law, clearly targeting the national origin of Israeli citizens. Makes one wonder why these anti-Zionists aren’t prosecuted. (not that I’m in favour of hate speech laws generally).

  28. phil
    Posted August 25, 2016 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    As I suggested above, it is likely that Muslims are vilified more often than any other group in Australia. The next closest bunch of “others” we hear about are “boat people”, people who arrive “illegally” (technically it isn’t illegal AFAIK) by boat seeking asylum. Treatment of boat people is a bit like gun ownership in the US, most people don’t really like current circumstances but for a variety of mostly political reasons we can’t seem to fix the problem.

    Anyway, I think the motivation behind Stephen Blanks’ piece might be well meaning. In spite of all the problems with Islam and islamic terrorism I don’t want muslims in my country, whether citizens or visitors, attacked in the streets or vilified in the media (both of which happen) simply for their perceived beliefs or origins. I don’t think Blanks’ solution is the right one.

  29. somer
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    the Sydney Morning Herald is good paper that used to be highly respected for high level investigative journalism (Unlike The Age). Its staff have been radically downsized over the years. It is not as left as the Age was but not as good as it used to be and not hard right wing like the Murdoch papers. In Australia its either Greenie soft mindedness, something in between that and good, or hard line economic right. Very disappointing the SMH come out with this, its normally pretty good.

    Regarding speech protection – I think there needs to be some sort of speech restriction re race etc but definitely not religion and not for Muslims as they are NOT an ethnic group even if culture and religion are a blurred line Islam is not a race! In Australia we have an ongoing problem with slurs against Aboriginal people, though other “coloured” people much less commonly

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