A busy few days at Watford Borough Council, during which time we have, among other things, passed a budget with a 1 per cent council tax increase - which will probably prove one of the lowest in the country.
So I didn't manage to comment on the vote in the House of Commons on the Religious Hatred Bill and now other Lib Dem bloggers have said it all!
One of the particularly unpleasant characteristics of New Labour is sanctimonious humbug. So they promote a measure that was quite obviously designed purely to win back to Labour Muslim voters who were alienated by the war in Iraq, while pretending this is somehow about justice or equality.
The bill effectively sacrifices Enlightenment values in the cause of electoral expediency. The notion that organised religion should be above scorn, satire or criticism belongs in the Middle Ages not the twenty-first century. I say this as a semi-practising Catholic and (with some reservations) a defender of the church against many of its secular critics.
When the last Pope died, some commentators tried to prick the bubble of 'de mortuum nil nisi bonum' by saying that his stance on contraception was responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans. Quite an accusation and if putting Catholics on a par with practitioners of genocide isn't religious hatred I don't know what is. I would defend John Paul II with entirely secular arguments, but would not for a minute say that the criticism should not be levelled or that there is not a case to answer or that Catholics should somehow be protected from these accusations.
For the reasons why society stopped persecuting people for attacking religion, see the case of Thomas Aikenhead , executed in Edinburgh in 1697 for, among other things, claiming that 'theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense'.