CFP: Workshop on ‘Religion, Hate and Offence in a Changing World’

CALL FOR PAPERS

Workshop on ‘Religion, Hate and Offence in a Changing World’

Cardiff University, School of Law and Politics, 14-15 December 2016

Keynote speaker: Professor Jocelyn Maclure (Université Laval)

This workshop aims to bring together scholars working on the relationship between religion and free speech. This relationship is complex. On the one hand, it has been central to recent discussions of hate speech and offensive speech targeting religious believers, and especially members of religious minorities. For example, the current wave of Islamophobia across Europe, prompted by migratory pressure, an unstable Middle East, and the backlash from the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, has brought the issue of hate speech directed at religious minorities back to the forefront of public debate in western liberal democracies. Furthermore, the tension between freedom of speech and blasphemy continues to elicit public and academic debate, as shown by the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and, more recently, by the Charlie Hebdo controversies and attack. On the other hand, religious believers sometimes defend their use of derogatory and extreme speech against members of other religious faiths, or people with a certain sexual orientation, as part of their religious freedom. Recent examples include Swedish Pastor Ake Green’s likening of homosexuals with ‘cancer’; Tunisian preacher Muhammad Hammami’s anti-semitic remarks; Belfast Pastor James McConnell’s description of Islam as ‘heathen’ and ‘satanic’; and American conservative Evangelical Christian TV evangelist Andrew Wommack’s claim that gay people are ‘not normal’. Religious believers, therefore, can be both victims and instigators of hate speech and offensive speech, and this renders an examination of the relationship between these kinds of speech and religion especially important.

Contributions addressing the following questions are particularly welcome:

  • Should hate speech and/or offensive speech be regulated and, if so, why?
  • Is there a clear distinction between hate speech and offensive speech?

  • What is the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of speech?

  • Is religion unique in often being both the target and the source of hate speech and offensive speech?

  • Should hate speech and offensive speech be legally regulated, or should speakers only have a moral duty to refrain from using them?

If you would like to present a paper, please send a paper abstract (300-400 words) to Matteo Bonotti (BonottiM@cardiff.ac.uk). The deadline for submission of paper abstracts is 15 October 2016. Acceptance will be notified by 20 October 2016. Each accepted paper will be presented in a plenary session, and it will be allocated 60 minutes (30 minutes for presentation and 30 minutes for in-depth discussion).

There will be a registration fee of £50, including registration, tea/coffee breaks and lunches for both days.