Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Insulting religions is a right

Yes it is.
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Islam (Shia, Sunni), Judaism (Orthodox, Hasidic, Conservative, Reform, Karaite), Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Baptist, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist), Hinduism, Shintoism and all other worshipping of the supernatural is the denial of the mind and offensive to me - and anyone of any faith who wants to persecute me because I am an atheist can get fucked - and I will use all reasonable means to defend myself against it.
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The Koran, Bible, Torah, Shruti and other religious texts are books to me - stories, with no spiritual status. I have the freedom to burn them if I desire or throw them away in the rubbish. Fundamentalist Islam and the brainless drones that worshop Brian Tamaki are the same - much like the this-wordly religions of political fanatacism that Hitler, Stalin, Mao and others cultivated.
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So go on, declare a fatwa on me.
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Meanwhile, the House of Lords is earning its keep defending these freedoms. First it defeated the ID card bill, by insisting that it be explicitly voluntary. Now it has referred the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill back to the House of Commons, after removing the element that would have prohibited “insulting or abusive” speech against religions, and inserting “intent” as a critical part of offences under the Bill. What the Bill intends to do is to prohibit the spreading of hatred against religions, with the emphasis being to target Muslims and Christians who incite holy war against each other. In fact, a coalition of comedians, Christians, Muslims, libertarians, humanists and other atheists have been opposing the Bill.
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Of course the Bill should be defeated. There is no right to “not be offended”. I find Islam and Christianity both quite offensive, and freedom of speech demands that you have the right to criticise or blaspheme against them. I think the world would be a better place without either religion, but that does not mean I want to do violence against those who believe or spread the beliefs. Far from it. I want to convince people that believing in ghosts who you should sacrifice your life to is at best a waste of time and energy, and at worst is self destructive, destructive to others and delusional. The age of persecuting people because of what they think of your religion belongs in the dark ages.
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It is also encouraging that blogs on the right (Sir Humphreys and DPF) and left (No Right Turn) have both celebrated this. Like I have said before, I like Tony Blair a lot, but the insidious political correctness and willingness to override civil liberties short sightedly is a major drawback. Fortunately David Davis has confirmed the Tories opposed this move – though I wonder how much the Conservative party opposed it because it was a Labour bill, rather than any solid commitment to freedom – but it is at least a start.
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An example is the dispute caused by the Danish newspaper which was blogged by DPF. The newspaper – Morgenavisen Jyllands- Posten - published cartoons depicting Muslim men wearing bombs instead of turbans. See them all here, and the response from the newspaper (in English) to criticism and the jihad placed upon them. One could hardly find a better example of the “Clash of Civilisations” predicted by Samuel Huntington in the early 1990s. Western liberal constitutional democracy vs. Islamic authoritarian theocracy.
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Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers from predominantly Islamic countries have called for the Danish government to act against the newspaper. None of them understand that in the free world, governments do not censor on command, nor do they have the legal powers to do so. Constitutional democracies in western Europe have limits on the power of the executive and parliament – limits that leaders in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan do not have.
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It was also reported that in Belgium, a young Muslim immigrant published a poster of the Virgin Mary with naked breasts seen here, as promotion for a play . However, will Muslims see that in a predominantly Christian nation, this is not only allowed, but was even subsidised by the state (which, of course, I would oppose - Muslims shouldn't fund what is offensive to them through the state). The treatment of the Danish newspaper is akin to that of the Dutch artist who was murdered for publishing photos of naked women with words from the Koran on their backs, reported in the earlier story.
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It is one thing to be offended, another thing to call for a boycott of a newspaper, but to boycott all of the goods from a country where a newspaper is published and demand that the government of that country do something – when it has no legal powers to act, and when doing so would be grossly offensive to THAT country’s way of life and culture, shows a primitive attitude to people, nations and culture. The newspaper is responsible, Danes are not, many Danes do not buy the newspaper, and the government has nothing to do with it. Government in Denmark does not control every aspect of your life, and does not have the power to do so – individual Danes act on their own volition, not as an amorphous unified whole. This is why far more people from the Middle East emigrate to western Europe than vice versa and why the standard of living in western Europe is higher than in the theocracies complaining about the cartoon. People in the west can be creative, productive, innovative and be free, without some mullah overseeing whether it is offensive or not.
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More importantly, the violent reaction by a minority of Muslims (and the acquiescence by more) to anything which offends their religion is stone age barbarity – where there is no argument, just the gun. The use of violence to respond to an insult is the tool of the uncivilised thug.
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Danes should remain defiant – what that newspaper is doing is fighting for the freedoms we all have to criticise religions. A freedom that much of the Islamic world does not have – because Islam’s defenders fear it. They fear reason, they fear the debate, the moral critique which comes from responding to other beliefs with talk and reason, not threats and bombs.
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A clear message has to be given to Muslims and governments from Islamic countries – there is another way of looking at the world – one where there is a right to freedom of speech, including freedom to offend. Many of your traditions are offensive to us – we find your treatment of women to be degrading, treating them as less than men, and we find your intolerance of different points of view and different forms of cultural expression to be insulting to our intelligence.
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Either the Islamic world catches up with the enlightenment and looks in on itself, or it will get offended time and time again – and if any Muslims take the law into their own hands in western countries, they can expect the consequences.
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By the way, check out Ask the Imam website, with its proclamations of what is legal under Islam - don't be plucking those eyebrows now girls!
UPDATE: and good on The Whig for publishing these blasphemous images. I wonder if the Iranian Embassy will be asking Winston Peters as Minister of Foreign Affairs to act against the blog.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

On plucking eyebrows, the answer given in the you provided was yes it is halal. So what anyway?

george said...

well God is love and anyone who does not love does not know God.

He is big enough to take all insults on the chin, you probably won't get felled by lightning, he has been insulted for centuries. But we have a lifespan and its all on us at the end of it

James said...

Nice piece LS and sums it up well.

libertyscott said...

Yes trim, not pluck. The point is the absurdity of religious laws which micro manage your life over matters that are of no consequence to anyone besides yourself, and which do not harm you.

George, I know love and I don't know God - and since when is God male? I'll take my chances at the end of my lifetime if God would rather condemn me than a repenting Christian rapist, then God is rather sick.

george said...

take it up with him.

libertyscott said...

Well george, I demand to do so - now. I have asked God to make itself known to me several times in my life, to demonstrate its existence and nothing happens. I see random occurrences of unspeakable cruelty involving children and the so-called omnipotent loving "God" sits by and does nothing while it occurs.

I wont be scared of something that does not exist or be scared that it does exist, despite there being no objective evidence of its existence - I may as well fear that a ghost will eat my brain when I get home tonight.