Je suis Louis Smith: why we must be free to mock Islam

If you thought the public shaming and punishment of people for ridiculing religion was a thing of the past — a dark past when you’d be put in the stocks, or worse, for failing to bend your knee to certain gods and beliefs — then think again. Just look at the treatment of Olympian gymnast Louis Smith. Since a video of him taking the mick out of Islam was leaked in October, he’s been pilloried in the press, pressured to recant his heretical humour, dragged on to TV to repent before the Loose Women (the new guardians of public morality, apparently), and now he’s been suspended from his job for two months. All for having a laugh about a religion. There have been no rotten tomatoes or licking flames, but Smith’s treatment nonetheless echoes that time when ‘blasphemers’ were made to suffer for their thoughts and words.

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