Inclusivity means accepting everyone’s views – even Israel Folau’s

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Something’s not quite right here. The 21st-century buzzwords are diversity and inclusivity, but they seem to be applied very selectively.

It seems we’re in favour of diversity and inclusivity if we’re talking about race, colour, gender and sexual identity, the latter two of which keep spinning off into ever-new permutations.

But puzzlingly, we’re only partially tolerant when it comes to religious belief.

We are encouraged to be tolerant toward Islam, especially since the Christchurch atrocities, and so we should be.

The right to practise one’s religion, at least unless it interferes with the rights of others, is one we should all unquestioningly support.

This applies even when secular society disapproves of some of those religions, or scratches its collective head in bemusement at their practices and beliefs.

But if freedom of religion is one cornerstone of a free society, so is freedom of expression, which includes the right to subject religion, along with every other institution of society, to critical scrutiny and even ridicule.

Virtually all religions – whether we’re talking Catholicism, Mormonism, Judaism, the Destiny Church or the Exclusive Brethren – possess what, to non-believers, are quirks, absurdities, hypocrisies and cruelties that render them ripe for mockery and condemnation.

For decades, comedians and satirists have taken joyous, blasphemous advantage of this freedom.

How people laughed, for example, at Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, with its wickedly subversive song Every Sperm is Sacred – a dig at Catholic teaching on birth control.

If it offended devout Catholics – well, tough. Freedom to ridicule is the flipside of freedom to worship.

Mainstream Christianity is still considered fair game by comedians and satirists, and no-one bats an eyelid. But somehow, Islam seems to be off-limits.

Even a cool, reasoned criticism of Islam is likely to excite accusations of Islamophobia.

The champions of diversity don’t seem to grasp that you can abhor the grotesque excesses carried out by Islamic fanatics while simultaneously defending the right of peaceful, law-abiding Muslims, such as those in Christchurch, to practise their religion. Continue reading

  • Karl du Fresne is a former musician and journalist for over 40 years. He is currently a columnist for The Dominion Post and a freelance journalist, writing on a broad range of subjects from politics to sport. His blog is at: http://karldufresne.blogspot.com/
  • Image: Stuff.co.nz

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