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Uthman Badar is entitled to be a bigot

By Laurence Maher - posted Wednesday, 16 July 2014


"bigot… 2 A person obstinately and unreasonably wedded to a particular religious creed, opinion or ritual … [or] other than religious opinions": Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition), Vol II, 185

What are we to make of the affair of the "idea" that, suddenly, became too "outrageous" for the 2014 Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI), a joint presentation by the Sydney Opera House Trust and the St James Ethics Centre scheduled for the weekend of 30/31 August?

Here is one approach: Can a free and open society such as Australia tolerate the expression of ideas favouring either the rejection of integral elements of its criminal law which are necessary to protect the lives of everyone, or a return to medieval authoritarianism?

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History

The failure of the Menzies Government to outlaw the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) is an enduring reminder that (a) even sustained campaigning for the revolutionary overthrow of government can be tolerated, (b) there is a clear dividing line between the permissibility of dogmatic urging of attacks on democracy, and the unqualified impermissibility of resort to violence to impose change on the people, (c) hysteria comes and goes, and (d) Australia's abiding strength, its long history of peaceful, secular, democratic government, stands firmly against the stridency and bigotry of illiberal dogma.

Plain English/plain speaking

The particular controversial idea is, "Honour Killings are Morally Justified". Its proponent at FODI was to be Mr Uthman Badar, the media representative of the Australian branch of the Islamic political organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir which is committed to the restoration of the Caliphate. The advertising of Mr Badar's scheduled contribution gave a glimpse of his argument.

Opinions may, perhaps, differ, but this piece assumes that the proponent was seeking to express the idea unambiguously in the title, and contends that he was successful.

Authorship

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Dr Simon Longstaff AO, the Executive Director of the St James Ethics Centre, has published an e-mail message sent to him by Mr Badar containing a statementby Mr Badar proposingthe title of his idea.

A monstrous idea

"Honour killings" are a category of murder. Murder is at the apex of criminality. There are no exceptions.

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About the Author

L W Maher is a Melbourne barrister with a special interest in defamation and other free speech-related disputes. He has written extensively on Australian Cold War legal history.

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