E&R’s first birthday!

On the 14th October 2011 I put my first blog post online. Now it’s one year later and this is my 100th post. It’s not a coincidence, I planned that way because it’s a nice round number. This is a chance for me to celebrate where I’ve come from, what I’ve achieved over the year and to highlight a few of my favourite posts.

I started reading blogs when I was doing my honours degree as a way to keep up with what was happening in science. I can’t remember exactly which blogs I started out on but I remember Pharyngula was one of them and, later, why Evolution Is True. They are still some of my favourite blogs, though I must say I much prefer WEIT. This was all after I’d started reading Dawkins, thanks to a professor in first year biology who mentioned the selfish gene during a lecture series on evolution. He didn’t agree with a gene-centred view of evolution but did recommend it for those that wanted to see a different perspective, and after reading it I couldn’t see how anyone could see a different view of evolution. Continue reading

Hate Speech

I said yesterday that there was some disagreement about hate speech and that I would offer my thoughts. The issue came up with regards to principle four of the Free Speech Debate project.

We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.

Jeremy Waldron expressed his support for legislation limiting hate speech on the grounds that it is harmful to people in vulnerable groups by lowering their status in the eyes of the public, creating a poisonous atmosphere and intimidating them. I disagree and think there is no place for laws that prevent hate speech, only for laws that are designed to emphasise reason and protect against calls for harm. Continue reading

Leave the revolution behind

This is also an older posting, since I might as well archive them here in the beginning, rather than perhaps wasting people’s time later when I have more readers. This was another letter that was published by News24 on 21 April 2011.

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It is sad that 17 years into our democracy our political leaders are unable to leave the mindset of a revolution behind them.

I am speaking, of course, of Julius Malema who is facing charges of hate speech for his singing of the song “Shoot the Boer”. Not only has he refused to apologise for the offence his singing may have caused but part of the defence he has made has been that the song has historical importance as a struggle song, a claim which, whether true or not, misses the point.

Hate speech is that speech which can be reasonably construed to demonstrate an intention to be hurtful, incite harm or promote hatred. The song Shoot the Boer fits into hate speech as it singles out the Afrikaner and calls for violent action against them. As such it is not acceptable in society and does not receive the protection of free speech. Continue reading