Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Thursday, 6 December 2007

When Is Incitment To Kill Not Incitment To Kill ?

Time to be controversial.

Two contrasting stories took my eye today.

In the first one, Brighton Council have outlawed music inciting hatred towards minorities in pubs and clubs. The playing of all so-called "murder music" could lead to a venue losing its licence. This includes, but isn't limited to, a song called Boom Bye Bye, by the dancehall reggae artist Buju Banton, which has lyrics referring to the shooting of gay men. It's unclear from today's news sites what other lyrics have been banned (presumably because there is a fear that the very act of publishing the lyrics, even for information, could land them in court).

In the other story a woman who converted from Islam to Christianity is living under police protection because she's on the run from her family, who are demanding - on pain of death - that she return to Islam. She's quoted as saying that "the Koran says that anyone who goes away from Islam should be killed as an apostate so in some ways my family are following the Koran".

I keep meaning to read the Koran to see what it says that inspires such fanaticism in some followers of Islam. I appreciate that there many different interpretations and translations, and where some people believe that the Koran is instructing them to kill, others will come to a different view.

That said, we clearly have, in the eyes of some, a book - widely available - which incites murder. And at the same time there is a ban on rap singers, one of whom has written a song apparently advocating murder.

Does that strike anyone as strange ?

It illustrates perfectly the difficulties in placing restrictions upon freedom of speech, and has, for me, a simple solution. Liberate us. Allow the whole lot. If a rap singer wants to advocate shooting gays, fine, let him sing it. And if, for that matter, a Muslim wants to stand up and say that all apostates should be shot, then fine, let that be said too; let's have the debate.

Bullets kill. Words do not.

1 comment:

Shades said...

There is the third case in this bizarre freedom speech trilogy- The lyrical terrorist who has been done for thought-crime.