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English comic slams UK religious hatred bill

[JURIST] English comedian Rowan Atkinson, famed for his starring role in Blackadder and other UK comedy series, lashed out Monday evening against a proposed UK law to ban the incitement of religious hatred. Speaking at a meeting in Westminster Hall convened by writers, MPs and groups opposed to the legislation, Atkinson warned that such a law was an inappropriate response to a problem and would unduly stifle free speech:

To criticise a person for their race is a manifestly irrational and ridiculous. But to criticise their religion - that is a right. That is a freedom. And a law that attempts to say you can criticise or ridicule ideas, as long as they are not religious ideas, is a very peculiar law indeed. It all points to the promotion of the idea there should be a right not to be offended... In my view, the right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended.
More information about the proposed legislation is available from the Home Office here. The Guardian has more.

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