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Friday, April 15, 2011

Three Hindus in Switzerland acquitted of destroying holy texts

...but only because they didn't actually go through with it:
Three men who announced their intention to burn copies of the Koran and the Bible on Bern’s Parliament Square last November have been acquitted by a Swiss court. 
The book burnings never took place but the three, two Indians and a Swiss, were charged with violating laws on freedom of faith and religious practice. 
The judge ruled that the men could not be prosecuted for simply announcing their intention to burn the religious texts. However the three were asked to pay half of the costs on the grounds that they had overstepped the boundaries of personal freedom and injured the religious feelings of others.
You could, I assume, feel free to burn a Spiderman comic if you wanted to. Even in the presence of someone who had read every one, collects them all, and has seen every movie and cartoon ever made. In order to get that changed, Spiderman aficionados would presumably have to declare their allegiance a faith, accumulate sufficient numbers, and get their religion recognized as such by the government. Then it would be against the law to hurt the feelings of someone who worships yet another supernatural figure. Because feelings about supernatural entities are special and deserve punishment if they are denigrated in any way.

As is often the case, the men in question were not themselves big proponents of freedom of speech either:
The trio first publicly called for a ban on young people reading the Koran and the Bible.
I'm so glad for the First Amendment. A government which punishes people for speech which hurts religious feelings out of concern that a rabid mob will rise up in violence against it otherwise has not actually prevented violence-- it has simply taken the mob's job.

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