Defamation of Religion: Moral Clarity

I am pleased to learn that there is at least one competent Australian remaining. The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies published this excellent essay which clarifies the philosophy behind the right of free expression. I reproduced its first two paragraphs as a teaser.

The idiocy of “defamation of religion”

Russell Blackford

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club

Posted: Feb 17, 2009

Anti-liberal actors in the international arena, such as the Muslim states of the Middle East, are pursuing a path of attempting to suppress what they call “defamation of religion”. Their campaign is achieving some success, and I believe we must take it very seriously.

The whole idea of defamation of religion is nonsense. Taken literally, it would mean that I could not utter any falsehood that is damaging to the reputation of a religion (so, it might lead people to leave the religion or doubt its doctrines, or fail to be convinced to convert to it). But a religion has no right to flourish, be believed, retain adherents, gain converts, or anything of the sort. On the contrary, it is in the public interest that the truth and credibility of various religions be tested continually, and it is quite within my rights to try to convert people from their current religion to my religion of choice or to an anti-religious position. Much like political ideologies, religions have to take their own chances. Many things will be said for and against various religions, and some of those things will not be true, even if they are said sincerely.

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