Thursday, 15 November 2007

Anti-hatred laws threaten to be anti-justice

At one stage during my childhood I took a bit of a shine to the word "hate". I enjoyed the sense of oomph that went with it, and I began to throw it around like candy at a pantomime.

Every time I declared that I hated someone, however, my grandmother would intervene with the phrase: "You don't hate them, you only dislike them." At the time I thought she was being pedantic: now, I can see that she was quite right.

As mature adults we are all agreed that hatred is a terrible thing, destructive to the holder and the object alike. Our Government is so eager to emphasise that hatred is wrong, indeed, that it has created a special category of crime called "hate crime", whose exponents will be punished more heavily than other criminals (presumably the ones who love us). The most recent proposal is that those who "incite hatred" against homosexuals could be guilty of a criminal offence punishable by up to seven years in jail.

It is on this heavily-mined territory that the Government and I part company. That is not because I am any fan of those who like to sneer at gay people, either by fulminating against the perceived depravity of their sexual activities or slipping constantly into dreary faux-effeminate mockery: such people tend to be bores and creeps.

But it should not be a criminal offence to be a bore or a creep, since otherwise British jails would be at bursting point and beyond. Read more

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