While the word ‘hate’ is filled with much emotion, I feel that the term is being misused and misapplied in our present politically correct political atmosphere. While one would have hoped that this ‘correctness’ phase would have burned itself out by now, it seems to be in full force around the globe.

Hate crime legislation started becoming a major public policy about a decade ago. Since then, it has been spiraling and growing, like some kind of monster. The term ‘hate’, however, is being applied to anything or anyone who simply does not agree with something or someone else. While the laws are being written to protect people from being targeted on the basis of certain criteria, and were good ideas at the outset, they are being expanded and are now threatening to erode or erase our freedom to speak out.

Of course, blatant calls for violence towards any group should be curbed, but the laws being passed are being done without wisdom, and are curtailing the very freedoms which they espouse to protect. You cannot muzzle your citizens and still have a free society. Inciting hatred has always been a law in Canada, this new legislation was not needed.

Consider Britain. Some in its Parliament, to the detriment of all, are proposing legislation that has already been defeated twice. It concerns derogatory remarks of someone else’s religious beliefs and how these comments could become punishable by up to seven years in prison. It sounds like something that could happen in China, or under the former Soviet KGB. Indeed, Hitler himself has such a program for those who spoke out against his aims.

While proponents of the legislation in this and other countries have stood up and proclaimed amnesty for pastors and ministers, quite the opposite is true. Convictions and fines have already been handed down.

Last year, Pastor Ake Green in Sweden was jailed for a month for proclaiming homosexuality a sin. A minister in the UK was fined $35,000 for placing an ad against homosexuality. A Canadian man was fined more than $6,000 for the same offence.

Now, lawmakers in the United States are mulling over the same legislation. I am not too quick to assume that it will become law, however. Americans have a greater tendency to protect their freedoms than Canadians and Europeans. We tend to think of the rights of everyone, but not the rights of anyone.

As we serenely stroll down the road to total submission, I for one will refuse to be quieted. There used to be tolerance for people with principles, and I can tell you that principles don’t die with legislation. If we are restrained from voicing our opinions and our beliefs, then our democracy has past on, and we are now living in a dictatorship. I would rather be standing in Tiannamen Square.

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