Cracking down on free speech in the name of tolerance would only serve to undermine Western society, a commentator has warned.
Janet Daley, writing on The Telegraph Online, said the concept of ‘hate speech’ was already close to “creating a category of thought crimes”.
She said going any further along that road would threaten society.
Daley, a Telegraph columnist, said “the law cannot (should not) protect people from having their feelings hurt”.
And she commented that accepting that something is legally permissible, “is not the same thing as saying that it is right to do it”.
Her remarks follow the recent terrorist attacks in France linked to cartoons of Muhammad, and comments made by Nick Clegg defending the necessity of free speech in a free society.
She commented: “The West has come close enough already to creating a category of thought crimes in the form of ‘hate speech’.
“To go any further along this road – in the name of tolerance – would undermine precisely the kind of open society to which, ironically, so many migrant groups are attracted.
“Satire, or verbal abuse, may be ugly or puerile. It may be objectionable in any number of ways to different groups of people.
“And you are as free to attack it, or to repudiate it, as its authors are to publish it. None of this may be comfortable or painless – but real freedom rarely is.”
Last week Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg warned against “knee-jerk authoritarianism” in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
He commented that “all governments are capable of trampling on free speech” as he referred to the successful Christian Institute-backed campaign against the vague Section 5 ‘insult’ law.
“This is the bottom line: in a free society people have to be free to offend each other”, the Deputy Prime Minister said.