International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Blasphemy Laws and Hate Speech Codes: Threats to Freedom of Expression, Dissent, and Democracy
James R. Moore

Research indicates that there has been an increase in the passage of blasphemy laws, hate speech codes, and defamation of religions laws in the past decade. These laws, ostensibly passed to protect adherents of various faiths and minority group members from offensive speech or criticism based on innate characteristics, are actually a direct threat to the ideals of freedom of religion and expression. Blasphemy laws, like hate speech prohibitions, calling for “tolerance and respect for religions” often metastasize into censorship of expression – often accompanied by harsh penalties (including prison and death in some countries) – and have a chilling impact on the democratic traditions of freedom of conscience, expression, and the right to dissent from religious and political orthodoxy. Advocates of democracy must use their freedom of expression to oppose blasphemy laws and speech codes that are anathema to individual freedoms, human rights, and limited government.

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