As the protests against the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ circled the globe with increasing ludicrousness, one of the more interesting lines of arguments often heard was –
“Freedom of speech is fine, but make a law against saying bad things about the prophet because the inciters of hate speech are responsible for the riots.”
There are two points of stupidity in this idea –
1) The reduction of every Muslim to a three-year-old child
Have we reached the stage where we will happily call all Muslims around the world stupid children who are incapable of self-thought, reflection or civilization?
Like animals in a zoo, it is necessary to post “do not provoke!” signs around them?
2) Freedom of speech is just a by-law that needs amendment from time to time based on whoever screams the most.
How is freedom of speech fine if we are not free to question god?
As an atheist I do not have a prophet. A belief held by 5 billion or 6 billion is still not the belief of all and still doesn’t give the belief a special untouchability.
This belief that stifling discussion will somehow make all the bad things go away is the fanciful notion of those people who just want an instant solution, rather than dealing with the issue.
These people are usually of two kinds –
The religious, who lay awake at night worrying about each new ‘heresy’, because each new voice makes it more difficult to hold on to the silent fairy in the sky.
The apologists, who toss and turn all night dreaming of a utopia where no one ever offends and we are all lovers, while also fighting the realization that such a time will never come.
Both of these kinds seek to out-do each other in their willingness to surrender all rights and sense on the altar of their belief. These people lamely tell us that we should careful about who we offend.
The creation of a film or any expression is just an opinion. And the people who are apologizing for it, the people who are killing in its name and the people who seek to suppress our greatest right in its name should remember that no one was required to heed that opinion.
It has long been the fashion of the world to try and blame an individual, instead of accepting the weakness in the masses.
Classic example – Hitler is the cause of World War 2, not the millions of Germans who listened to him.
This method of reasoning, used to whitewash the role of the ordinary in extraordinary situations, is a farce.
Why do we delude ourselves into imagining that if we could have stopped just one person or one incident, we could have changed history?
If not this film, it would have been something else. those who want to create chaos will do always find a reason. The cause is of academic interest; the reaction is what we should focus on.
We all hate something or the other.
Most of us have the ability and the maturity to ignore these flashes of hate, understanding that this moment will pass, but consequences are forever. We move on.
But now, those of us who are stable – mentally and physically – are being asked to cower before and beg the irrational and the violent for permission to think.
The religious can have the most insane of beliefs, based on the silliest of premises. This belief in nonsense must be defended and protect by laws for ‘religious freedom’ and ‘freedom of expression’.
But those of us who choose not to believe, respect or care about this insanity must be taught ‘respect’ via the law or be violently murdered as a ‘message’ to others?
No law can make anyone ‘respect’ religion and murder creates martyrs, not obedience.
It is shameful that there are those who call for a re-looking at freedom of speech.
It is shameful that there are those who choose to apologize to the rioters, instead of the victims.
No people, anywhere, should have the right to force another to ‘think’ in one way or the other.
If any religion is so holy that it cannot tolerate dissent, let god strike down the heathen through magic. Human help should be unnecessary.
Why would the omnipotent and omnipresent creator of the infinite stars in the universe, whose majesty believers never fail to crow about, be so offended about a YouTube video from a tiny planet orbiting a small sun in a mid-sized galaxy?
Is god such a feeble and pathetic construct?
Freedom of speech is not a mere technicality of law. It is not a simple amendment to a constitution.
It is an idea that cannot die.
And it should not be weakened every time any miniscule but vocal minority loses their grip on sanity.
Let fear not make us bend so low that our heads are closer to our knees than the sky.
PS: If there is god who is offended by my remarks, he or she or it knows who I am and where I live. He or she or its human believers need not trouble themselves and try to murder me.