Woke Activists and Islamic Fundamentalists Share A Fixation with Blasphemy

Woke Activists and Islamic Fundamentalists Share A Fixation with Blasphemy. By Mick Hume.

The last prosecution for blasphemy in Britain was in 1977. It seems like ancient history. In 2008, Tony Blair actually abolished the UK’s blasphemy laws. Although this was a necessary step, there was very little to celebrate, because we were replacing them with hate-speech laws, of which ‘Islamophobia’ became one of the central charges. This was the secular, modern equivalent of blasphemy. It set out what couldn’t be said and what should be punished — perhaps not by death, but certainly by being silenced, and possibly by being locked up.

There are very few old-fashioned blasphemy laws across the West, but almost all societies now have hate-speech laws. We shouldn’t imagine for a moment that this is an East-West divide, that it’s only in the Middle East where people get punished for blasphemy. …

Islamist extremists want to kill you for exercising your free speech, whereas woke culture warriors just want to cancel you. One group wants you to lose your life, the other wants you to lose your livelihood, your career, your future prospects and your voice in public. So there are differences and striking similarities, too. …

It is also clearly the case that the anti-free-speech culture in the West gives a green light to those who want to take things further than cancellation and attack somebody. When Western ‘liberals’ say ‘your speech is the equivalent of violence’, then why shouldn’t someone conclude that it is legitimate to use violence to stop someone speaking?

This is why the ‘right to be offensive’ is so important, because if we don’t have the right to be offensive — or what could be called the ‘right to blaspheme’ — we don’t have free speech. If we’re only allowed to say things that won’t offend somebody, then we might as well all keep our mouths shut, because free speech then becomes completely meaningless. …

In my book Trigger Warning, I say we are living in the age of the ‘reverse-Voltaires’. There’s Voltaire’s classic phrase, or rather the phrase that is attributed to him by his biographer: ‘I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.’ The reverse-Voltaire says: ‘I hate what you say and I will fight until the death of free speech for my right to stop you saying it.’

On that basis, there is little disagreement between the Islamist and the identitarian wings of the anti-free-speech movement. They’re all in the same boat, whether they admit it or not.

In a race to mankind’s tribal past, in a headlong retreat from modernity and individualism, the Islamic fundamentalists are winning but had a huge head start (having never left the seventh century).