Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bill Kill

I am delighted to learn that Lady Scotland has announced in the Lords that the proposals to outlaw incitement to religious hatred were dropped from the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill yesterday because opposition in the Upper House meant they could not be passed before Parliament is dissolved.

On the radio last night, I heard a petulant Peter Hain attempting use this to provoke discord in religious communities. I can't find a transcript yet but the Scotsman reports:

Earlier Commons Leader Peter Hain had told MPs the Opposition bore full responsibility for blocking the measure and Muslim communities across Britain would take very careful note of that.

HE should be deeply ashamed of that blatant attempt to inflame Moslem people.

I also remember him attempting to make the utterly ludicrous point that the proposals would have extended the protection already available to Sikhs to Christians. This is so irrelevant to the day to day concerns of the British that it beggars belief.

By way of contrast, something I have long quietly admired about Catholic public life in the UK, is that there is very little bitching and moaning about the issue of royal succession even though - as the Telegraph observed recently:

Imagine a religion that was once considered so abhorrent that a country's head of state is still forbidden not only to belong to it, but also to marry anyone who does. Moreover, even his or her distant relations become ineligible to become head of state if they marry someone who adheres to this faith.

The country is modern Britain; the religion in question is not a sect of hooded satanists, but the world's largest Christian Church. The legislation barring "anyone who should profess the Popish religion or marry a Papist" is the Act of Settlement of 1701, which was intended to be - and remains - profoundly offensive to Roman Catholics.

Now I don't think Catholics particularly care about this in general, never mind being profoundly offended and I believe that this reveals a mature political sensibility. It is understand that all things being equal, it should be repealed but its not the most urgent priority, and in the meantime we can even laugh that:

Prince William or, for that matter, Zenouska Mowatt (37th in line to the throne) may wed a Zoroastrian or Scientologist without losing the right of succession, but not a member of a Church to which five million Britons belong.

It is wrong to encourage everyone in the country to define themselves by identifying with groups that are sanctified by victimhood. And it is unhealthy to be over sensitive to any percieved slights.

I am not anyone's victim thank you very much, and for the Leader of the House of Commons to try and persuade me that I am discriminated against with regard to Sikhs is beyond preposterous.

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