Defend right to free speech

Elaine Richards suggests that we should be respectful of terrorist’s religious beliefs. (We must respect others’ religions – Letters 13/1)

Should we also then respect the belief of Hasidic Jewish men who insist they never be seated next to a woman (who might be menstruating)?

Do we respect the views of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been known to refuse life-saving blood transfusions for their children?

Do we respect the views of Scientologists who believe that all mental illness is caused by trauma in a past life, or some Catholics who believe it is caused by demonic possession?

Not one of these beliefs is worthy of respect.

Respect is something that must be earned, and most religions have failed miserably. It is also worth noting that none of us have the right to not be offended. This is the price we pay for free speech.

Saying that Charlie Hebdo must accept some of the blame for this massacre, is like saying that a woman who is provocatively dressed is partly responsible for her rape. There can be no excuse, ever.

In the words of a famous quote erroneously attributed to Voltaire; I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Peter Rowney
Lemon Tree Passage

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