In example one we are criticizing an argument. However, in example two we are attacking a person, and this is not advisable. The purpose of argument is to elucidate and in any kind of discussion it is best to express one's views using temperate language, as personal criticism tends to cloud the issues under consideration.

Concerning the possibility that someone may be prosecuted because of an unfavorable comment relating to some belief system: I have contacted the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission regarding this issue, and a spokesperson advised that we have a right to discuss such issues under Freedom of Speech. Provided comments relating to this subject were not intended to incite racial or ethnic hatred, or libellous (generally speaking, libel occurs when the published statement is of a false or malicious nature that holds a person up to public hatred, contempt or ridicule), then it is unlikely that any existing laws would be breached. Naturally, it is always possible that someone may take legal action, however, it is unlikely they would achieve a successful prosecution if the precautions I have mentioned were taken.


Sagan, C. The Demon-Haunted World, Headline Book Publishing, London 1996.

Thouless, R.H. Straight and Crooked Thinking, Pan Books Ltd, London, 1971.