Decriminalizing hatred – The riots throughout the world by Muslim fundamentalists irate over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet display an unintended consequence of creating new categories of crime. Violence has always been criminal, but now there are two kinds of violence: against those one likes (bad), and against those one doesn’t like (worse). We’re told that “hate speech” isn’t to be tolerated, and the First Amendment is reinterpreted to say that political speech must be heavily restricted to protect democracy.
Europe has already gone far in this direction, and the inability of Europeans to respond to religious fanatics suggests the obvious result. The classical liberal belief that tolerance – not endorsement or respect – is both the minimum and the maximum society should strive for may finally gain a new hearing.