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Hate Speech and Blasphemy Laws:  
Strange Bedfellows?

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An Article by Kent Allan Philpott

Hate Speech is a term that has often been used by pro-gay activists to refer to anything perceived to cast homosexual behavior in a bad light, e.g., referring to it as sin.  Homophobia is used as a label in this context, as though homophobia is the root cause of hate speech.

Blasphemy is a term used by zealous Muslims for anything that appears to place Muhammad, the Quran, or the Islamic Faith in a bad light. Blasphemy laws are intended to protect Islam. The penalty for blasphemy could be as severe as death; usually, however, the death sentence is not required, because the accused is more often assassinated by zealots or by those who want the reward for doing the deed. One of Pakistan's leading clerics who addressed the issue of justice for a person deemed to be guilty of blasphemy, put it this way: "Any Muslim, if given the chance, would kill such a person."1

While blasphemy laws are enforced in some Muslim states, these laws are being challenged to some degree today. Some in Pakistan, for example, are making efforts to do away with such laws, and as expected the religious-political radicals are up in arms about it.

In Western societies so-called hate speech2 is a term heard more and more, and as yet the rhetoric has not reached the level of blasphemy laws. But will it?

Islamic blasphemy laws reveal a weakness and demonstrate a cultic mentality. Stifling contrary opinions comes not from a position of strength but of defensiveness, a position which borders at minimum on a sense of inferiority, perhaps even a fear of critical analysis. The same can be said about the pro-gay lobby. Heterosexuals do not operate from a place of guilt over their sexual identity. Their defense of traditional marriage is not rooted in anger, guilt, or shame; rather it is centered in what is obviously natural and normal, not to mention biblical.

Progressive, modernist, or liberal Islamists have made some headway toward a more tolerant expression of Islam. These emphasize reason more strongly than revelation and are willing to subject the Quran to academic tools of textual criticism. Most importantly, they will accept a separation between mosque and state. However, freedom of expression is firmly restricted in most Muslim states where the radical Islamists and traditionalists have gained dominance. It is this group of moderates who face the threat of violence and death and have often then immigrated to Western countries.

Pro-gay activists seem to be energized toward even more aggressive efforts to normalize homosexual behavior. The repeal of "Don’t' ask, don't tell" has been a long-sought victory and is only the latest in a long line of goals set by pro-gay political lobbies decades ago. This victory is now spurring them toward more demands on their list, especially the legalizing of same sex marriage. Likely more demands will be made, such as lowering the age of sexual consent, legalizing plural marriage, and who knows what else. The barriers to achieving such goals are largely localized within the broader Christian community. The pressure to pull down these barriers is already evident as many historical Christian groups adopt the gay agenda. But there are those who are faithful to the biblical witness that homosexual behavior is errant and immoral. What is to be done?

Hate speech is currently being defined in the marketplace of social ideas as any communication that puts homosexual behavior in a negative light. The aspect of this issue currently being discussed is whether such speech should be criminalized, though that is still too radical a step at this point in history, but not outside the realm of possibility. If not categorized as criminal, then perhaps the intermediate goal will be making so-called hate speech a breach of civil rights law, which will thus open the door to tort lawsuits and other bureaucratic pressures brought to bear on non-profit organizations or other institutions who somehow benefit from government grants or loans.

Is it possible that the pro-gay lobby might be successful in using the legal system to stifle dissent and outlaw communications that do not portray homosexual behavior as normal? This has yet to be decided, but it is a battle to be fought, and soon. And it will pit the conservative wing of the Christian community against those who accept homosexuality to be normal. The U.S. Constitution will be no help since the founding fathers did not imagine that protections against homosexuality and same sex marriage would need to be guaranteed. No, the law of the land is weighted toward guaranteeing individual rights. It actually favors the pro-gay activist agenda, and so the legal battle will likely be lost for Bible supporters.

Would that be enough for the pro-gay folks? Probably not. And here is where the blasphemy laws and hate speech laws start to look and act alike. Strange bedfellows - radical Islamists and those who defend homosexual behavior. There is a good chance we will see just such as this. 

1 The quote is from Muhammad Salim as reported in the Los  Angeles Times, December 27, 2010, section A, page 1.

2 Hate Speech, in regard to homosexual issues, would include describing homosexual behavior as sinful, or, that there is something wrong with it as in it being immoral. The insinuation is made that let us surmise, a Christian preacher saying that homosexual behavior is sinful or immoral would be coming from hate toward the homosexual. All this would be based on an assumption of course. The opposite would more likely be the case however as in warning those whose actions would result in unhappy consequences. So far the pro-gay lobby has gotten away with applying the term hate speech broadly and without definition.

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Last Update: 2013-08-12 16:41