Sunday, June 18, 2006

OK to Vilify Catholics

The Australian State of Victoria has a "Equal Opportunity Commission" (EOC) that is best known for its successful prosecution of two Christian clergymen. The offense of the pastors concerned was to read out in a church seminar some of the nastier passages in the Koran. The pastors were condemned for "religious vilification".

But what happened when the Catholic Church complained to the EOC about a school text book that portrayed the history of the church in an extremely derogatory light, saying for example that The church controlled people by making them "terrified of going to hell" or face "horrific torture or being burnt alive" if they were excommunicated?

Whether or not such descriptions are accurate is not of course the point. After all, the pastors who read from the Koran presumably quoted it accurately. The point is that the textbooks clearly vilified the church and endeavoured to make it an object of hate.

But the reaction of the EOC was to dismiss the Church's complaint out of hand, saying it was "lacking in substance and misconceived".

Yet the mission of the EOC is summarized here by its head as "The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act prohibits vilification, which is the incitement of hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule against others on the basis of their race or religion.

I would have thought that the textbook clearly incited serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule against the Catholic church but the EOC obviously lives in an Alice-in-Wonderland world where words can mean anything that they want them to mean.

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