Courtesy of D-Mack comes the announcement of a so-called “open” online medical journal. This is important because of the reasons for its launch, having to do with recent controversy over the alleged loss of independence of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. A news report about the controversy is here.
As many of my droogies know, I am a fan of the original Frank Herbert Dune books (and not of the anemic prequels churned out by his money-grubbing mediocre-talent spawn.) Last night I re-watched 12 hours of the SciFi miniseries of the original Dune and the sequel, Children of Dune. The latter truly is a tragic and tear-rendering tale for those who can clearly discern the plot from all the narrative contortions. It’s helped by the remarkable soundtrack by Brian Tyler, which I am listening to as I watch this.
For those not in the know, much of Star Wars was stolen from Dune. Supposedly, Herbert threatened to sue before finally accepting the similarities as an homage rather than as a theft.
Speaking of science fiction and Star Wars. D-Mack also sends us the uber-geeky Star Wars Personality Quiz. Read ’em and weep, droogies, ’cause Raywat is a kick-ass bounty hunter named….
Meanwhile, EK Hornbeck sends us this disturbing bit of news about how the EU intends to make Holocaust denial an actionable crime.
Of course, I believe the Holocaust happened and that those who deny it are ignorant racist fools. But they are not criminals. I think each of us is entitled to our beliefs, however misinformed, prejudiced or idiotic they might be. It is not society’s role to tell us what to believe, but rather to show us the preponderance of evidence that inexorably leads to a given, obvious conclusion. The same argument should be made of evolution: while it is, at this point in history, idiotic not to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of evolution, it is not (and should not) be a crime to nonetheless deny the evidence and embrace the ignorance of unexamined Creationism.
Now, the text of the article is not as inflammatory as its title might suggest. The actual EU legislation seeks to punish public incitement “to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin”. This clearly covers so-called hate crimes beyond the denial of a specific historical event, i.e. the Holocaust.
I have a basic problem with hate crime legislations like this one. It is already wrong and a crime to assault and kill someone. Why is it more wrong to do so with bigotry in one’s heart? It is already criminal to incite violence. Why is it more wrong to incite violence for racist reasons? I submit that it is not, and that hate crime legislation is a politically expedient and inciting redundancy.
Moreover the added caveat that the incitement of “hatred” should be criminalised is problematic, for both practical and philosophical reasons. Practically, throwing a hater in jail will not quell his hatred; it may actually exacerbate it and equip the individual to recruit others more surreptitiously. Philosophically, I believe one should be allowed to share one’s opinions –however vile or misinformed they may be– with one’s peers. This does not mean, of course, that societal institutions and infrastructure must be made available to such people. (For example, a hater has a right to express his hatred, but a newspaper is under no obligation to publish his hatred, and the hater does not have a right to have his hatred taught in a public school.)
Legislation like that proposed by the EU threatens basic liberties and will ultimately serve to quash intellectual activity while hardly reducing the hatred it intends to eliminate. Let us note the very important final paragraph of the article:
“The proposal draws what is likely to be a controversial distinction between inciting violence against racial or ethnic groups and against religious groups. Attacks against Muslims, Jews or other faiths will only be penalised if they go on to incite violence against ethnic or racial groups, the draft text states.”
Draw your own conclusions.