It’s Blasphemy Day, God Damn It!

Well, it’s International Blasphemy Day.  The Center for Inquiry has led the charge to make September 30th “a day to promote free speech and to stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal.”  Sounds good to me.  In America we are generally protected in our free speech.  But in much of the world, blasphemy is punishable by prison, corporal punishment–even death.  And in Europe, free speech is under attack, with a number of ridiculous laws making it illegal to speak ill of another’s religious beliefs.

Knowing they cannot overturn the First Amendment, American bullies like the Eye of Sauron now try to label any insult to their religion as “hate speech.”  Such tactics don’t usually lead to legal charges, but the intimidation often works, and it has a chilling effect on the willingness of people to criticize organized religions.

Here’s an idea: if you don’t like blasphemy, don’t blaspheme.  If you’re Catholic, don’t make a chocolate Jesus or flush a cracker that’s been prayed over down the toilet.  If you’re a Muslim, don’t scribble pictures of Allah.  But don’t hold people of other faiths (or of no faith) to your standards.  I think it’s the mark of an adult to shrug off insults, especially if they aren’t to you personally.  What kind of baby gets upset and starts hitting people, burning things, or bringing lawsuits just because someone says something nasty about his god?  You don’t think god won’t get the last laugh?  (Well, I don’t, but you get my point.)

A request to our governments: don’t roll over to these thugs.  The reaction by certain governments in the wake of the Muhammad cartoons scandal was absolutely shameful.  And how ridiculous is it that a book is about to be published about the Muhammad cartoon scandal–but it won’t include the cartoons themselves!

Governments should send one clear, unified message: that violence and intimidation against free speech will not be tolerated and that those who engage in such violence and intimidation will be punished.

Now, having said all this, I don’t personally see much point in drawing pictures of Muhammad just to get a rise out of someone, or pickling a crucifix in urine just to make the Catholics mad.  But I think people ought to be free to do these things, to say “Suck it, Jesus!” or “God is a perv,” or to write a fictional biography about Muhammad’s child bride and not be afraid that some nut job will send a letter bomb to the publisher.

So enjoy your blasphemy, cherish your freedom of expression.  But use it wisely.

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