On Thursday 2nd May 2013, the UK newspaper, the Daily Mail published an article attacking our brother, and esteemed scholar, Abdal-Hakim Murad for a recently available internet video expressing Islamic theological opinions on homosexuality given in a lecture that was 17 years ago.
Following on from this has been a myriad of calls from the LGBT students, and political pundits, such as Douglas Murray, for the dismissal of Sheikh Abdal-Hakim from his occupation teaching Islamic Studies at Cambridge University (a post he started 16 years ago). The irony is, this is the same Douglas Murray that said ‘The oxygen of free societies is freedom of speech’, of course, not when it comes to Muslims or Islam it would appear.
Unfortunately, due to this pressure, Sheikh Abdal-Hakim has since been forced to apologise for the manner in which he used to express his religious conscience. His apology we can only assume to understandably defend himself against further public stigma. But the reality of the Liberal intelligentsia’s protest, was not to the manner in which he expressed his views, as so much the views themselves, namely the Islamic view on same gender intercourse. The question is never asked as to why did he have to apologise for the expression of his opinion in a supposedly free society? Of course we know why, free society is not actually free, but merely comprised of a different set of taboos from other kinds of society. These taboos are not all necessarily enforced by legal action (although many Liberal states do use their law to effectively ban religious opinions being expressed in public), but rather they are enforced by a more powerful, and more tyrannical means of suppressing dissent – the Liberal use of social stigma.
Even the classical Liberal philosopher, John Stuart Mill, understood that censorship and oppression that occurs from society is worse than that which occurs due to government. Depriving someone of their livelihood, and attacking their reputation in society are just as effective in suppressing dissenting ideas, than locking people up:
“It is that [social] stigma which is really effective…In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread…Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion”
“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues…any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
Liberalism, although it currently abhors torturing people within its own country (although not in other countries), has found a more ‘politically correct’ way to silence dissent. It threatens people with losing their jobs, and pressures halls, universities and community centres to not host illiberal views on their platforms. Websites can be taken down by servers due to pressure from governments. People who go out and shout illiberal opinions in the streets can be arrested for causing a disruption of the public peace. In fact, merely expressing an opinion on facebook is also punished! Although some may point to the tolerance of radical religious groups as proof of Liberalism’s tolerance – Liberalism still finds ways to punish them, for example the use of civil litigation in the case of Westboro Baptist Church which was sued for $6 million in punitive damages for ‘invasion of privacy’ (despite being approximately 300 m from the funeral, and allowed by Police to picket for only about 30 minutes before the funeral began) and $2 million for causing ’emotional distress’. It is interesting to note, that no one in the U.S. raises the issue of ’emotional distress’ caused when religious belief is insulted, and religious minorities vilified.
As we have seen, Liberalism has a variety of tools it can use to suppress dissent, and impose its opinions. Generally, in large urban societies it tolerates small and unimportant dissenters, but only because they are small and would not be able to access to mass media – effectively, Liberalism tolerates you until you are heard.
It was said that in the days of old, the function of law and social stigma is to protect public morals, but under modern ‘freedom’, morals are now a matter of private conscience. However, the function of the law and social stigma has not changed, merely the morals. Morality is still used to determine law and where social stigma should be applied, however Liberal morality is not neutral – it has a distinct and specific criteria to judge right from wrong – secular humanism. Under Secular Humanism, all morals are determined according to the criteria of individualism and materialism. As long as there is no material reason to prevent an action, all actions emanating from the individual are not immoral. Therefore, by default, all religious morals contravening what Secular Humanism has declared as ‘good’, are judged as ‘bad’ morals, and to merely utter them in public is viewed as undermining people’s ‘rights’, and is an unforgivable ‘sin’ in Liberal societies. And when it comes to rooting out these unforgivable sins, the Liberal media could give lynch mobs and the Spanish inquisition a few pointers about generating public outrage.
MDI has recently debated the issue of whether Liberalism (under the guise of ‘Human Rights’) could accomodate religious practices and conscience (see the debate here, and read the review). Although some may say that the cases of Liberal intolerance are exceptions to the rule, in the debate many cases were cited showing Liberal intolerance to religion – cases which were upheld by the European Court of Human Rights itself. The frequency of the exceptions have disproved the rule.