Date: December 14-15, 2016
Venue: School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3XQ, UK
Keynote speaker: Professor Jocelyn Maclure, Laval University
This workshop aims to bring together scholars working on the relationship between religion and free speech. This relationship is complex. On the one hand, it has been central to recent discussions of hate speech and offensive speech targeting religious believers, and especially members of religious minorities. For example, the current wave of Islamophobia across Europe, prompted by migratory pressure, an unstable Middle East, and the backlash from the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, has brought the issue of hate speech directed at religious minorities back to the forefront of public debate in western liberal democracies. Furthermore, the tension between freedom of speech and blasphemy continues to elicit public and academic debate, as shown by the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and, more recently, by the Charlie Hebdo controversies and attack. On the other hand, religious believers sometimes defend their use of derogatory and extreme speech against members of other religious faiths, or people with a certain sexual orientation, as part of their religious freedom. Recent examples include Swedish Pastor Ake Green’s likening of homosexuals with ‘cancer’; Tunisian preacher Muhammad Hammami’s anti-semitic remarks; Belfast Pastor James McConnell’s description of Islam as ‘heathen’ and ‘satanic’; and American conservative Evangelical Christian TV evangelist Andrew Wommack’s claim that gay people are ‘not normal’. Religious believers, therefore, can be both victims and instigators of hate speech and offensive speech, and this renders an examination of the relationship between these kinds of speech and religion especially important.
Contributions addressing the following questions are particularly welcome:
- Should hate speech and/or offensive speech be regulated and, if so, why?
- Is there a clear distinction between hate speech and offensive speech?
- What is the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of speech?
- Is religion unique in often being both the target and the source of hate speech and offensive speech?
- Should hate speech and offensive speech be legally regulated, or should speakers only have a moral duty to refrain from using them?
Source: Cardiff University’s Website