Death threats and online bile from the likes of the Australian Defence League deserve condemnation. A racist might target a person because of their race, and then use religion as a weapon in their racist arsenal.
So some racists appear to be critics of religion. But not all critics of religion are racists. There are legitimate reasons to criticise religion which have nothing to do with race. Criticising a religion should be accorded the same respect as the concept of freedom of religion.
Including religion in anti-discrimination laws is a bad idea as it will curtail that freedom... we have the freedom to worship God, the Earth Mother, Odin or Satan, and we also have the freedom to blaspheme against them as much as we like.
The section in this article claiming that people born into a religion do not have a choice is also worrying. I think measures need to be taken to ensure that people born into a religion have as much choice as possible. People born into Islam should have a choice to leave Islam, as much as people born into any other religion have that freedom.
If they do leave, they might want to take part in the criticism of their former religion, criticism which might include satire and even ridicule. Restriction of the freedom to criticise religion is a restriction which disadvantages Muslims too, if they find themselves in this situation.
Somehow Mariam Veiszadeh's effort at making religion a compulsory part of life reminded me of the liberal government's insistence on our "Judeo-Christian" foundations, which I also find to be an erroneous imposition.
JUSTIN BROWN left the following response to my comment:
04 Mar 2015 9:18:48pm
What I'm saying is that hatred of a belief is a different thing to hatred of a race. It's wrong to lump them together as you have. You might hate communism but love Chinese people. It wouldn't be very good if the government declared that in order to protect Chinese people, vilification of communism would be banned. No, we should be free to mock communism, or capitalism, or environmentalism any way we like. Plenty of Chinese people are not communists, and they would feel a bit miffed at this misguided attempt to protect them, which is actually only empowering their political rivals.
It's the same with religion. Plenty of people from South America are not Catholics, and they want the freedom to mock Catholicism, especially if the power of the church is improperly entrenched in corrupt dictatorships. Plenty of people from Iran/Syria/Indonesia/Saudi Arabia etc. are not Muslims. They already face segregation, banishment and indeed extermination in countries which have the death penalty for apostasy. And from what I have observed, they are pretty unhappy at proposals to bring in laws enshrining the protection of Islam or any other religion. It is not protection for all the people, it is acquiescence to a powerful religious elite.
Justin, I do not dispute your argument against deep-rooted hatred. But what we are talking about here is the proposal to create the blunt instrument of a law which could hurt people, including some of the very people it's intended to protect.