Journal article

Liberalism and hate laws: toleration versus tolerance

16 Mar 2009
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Religious vilification laws impose penalties for encouraging hatred, contempt or ridicule of others based on their religious beliefs. Anti-vilification legislation represents an understandable, though misguided, attempt to value and advance the liberal principle of tolerance.In Australia, conflicts between organised religions are a not a major issue, but the way in which such conflicts are resolved can offer a framework for dealing with all conflicts on the question of 'the good life.'

Religious vilification laws impose penalties for encouraging hatred, contempt or ridicule of others based on their religious beliefs. Anti-vilification legislation represents an understandable, though misguided, attempt to value and advance the liberal principle of tolerance.

Current attempts to use legislation to solve the problem of interpersonal intolerance have been unwittingly at the expense of state toleration. This is because the state can either be restrained from interfering in conflict or be tasked with the role of solving it – but not both simultaneously.

Rather than expending resources supporting or knocking down religious hate legislation, we need to discuss values that can underpin a dynamic, diverse and cohesive national community.

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2009
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