Letters: William Alderson, November

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D Hillier’s letter (‘Views are inflammatory’, November 16), since he has acknowledged that he does not consider that the expression of sexist, racist or anti-muslim views is ‘offensive or impolite’.

This is confirmed by the simultaneous publication of a letter complaining that free speech is being curbed by legislation against racist and sexist remarks (‘Free speech is restricted’).

No newspaper editor is obliged to publish a letter. He or she chooses to publish it. Research has shown that tolerating such verbal abuse, even when it is supposed to be humorous rather than serious, leads to an increase in physical abuse. In choosing to publish letters promoting the ‘right’ to be abusive, the editor is choosing to encourage the consequences. He is choosing to increase the likelihood of violence against women, immigrants and those with non-Christian religious beliefs.

Quite simply, in giving a public platform to these views, the editor is not a messenger, but an active participant in a process of defining some people as less human than others and less deserving of respect. Is the history of slavery and the concentration camps not enough evidence of the horrendous results of these attitudes?

This month, young people from the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech spoke very movingly about the history of deaths resulting from intolerance. I am neither a woman, non-white, nor religious, but I am proud to be part of the Wisbech Interfaith Forum which organised this event. Like those young people, I find encouragement of sexist, racist and anti-religious views offensive and dangerous in the extreme.

William Alderson, High Street, Stoke Ferry