THE RISE OF RELIGIOUS FASCISM AND THE THREAT TO LIBERTY
Posted: 17 December 2009 10:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I am seeing a very disturbing trend in the legislation of ‘religion as a protected reality’ and the inevitably connected suppression of a person’s right not only to challenge falsehoods but to denounce religion and it’s basic foundations.

In Eire recently the government wrote into law that a person could be arrested and imprisoned as well as face a fine of $25,000 Euros if they ‘..denounced or blasphemed against a particular religion in such a way as to offend a sufficient number of the population’. Without going into too much detail here I find this patently offensive not only to a person’s right to challenge, denounce, vilify, ridicule or insult any religion as a means to bring about change, just as is done on a daily bases by, for example, governments (who try to topple their opposition).

Secondly, such a law is a deathknell to the arts communities of that any country that enacts such a law as it effectively is a wholesale gag order on the long standing tradition of the arts being an effective outlet for dissention. Poets, authors, playwrights, film makers, visual artists, musicians, performance artists and so on will become slaves to the repressed views of religious groups trying to legislate their own failing survival and will no longer be potential advance ‘soldiers of change’ that we need so much. We shall all be the future Salman Rushdie’s, living in seclusion, on the run with prices on our heads if this lunacy prevails.

If the intent of this reprehensible law is to stave off violence against or by insulted religious groups then I would suggest stronger laws and controls against illegal violence. I would also personally boycott visiting any state that had such a law in place. Eire is out for me. ‘When in Rome’ is one thing but my self dignity would never allow me to stoop to such aquiescence.

Now I hear that the UN is also, if they have not already, trying to construct a similar ‘muzzling’ on the world (pun intended) , at the behest of the Muslim dominated states who feel that there is too much unfair prejudice against their religion. Most of these communities are basically highly restrictive religious dictatorships of one kind or another. Islamists need to deal with the oppression foisted on them by Christianity and then the entire balmy lot needs to get a grip on reality instead of trying to legislate truth from the face of the globe .

I was very disappointed to see USA federal laws brought in to ‘protect’ against anti-semitic behavior because , to my mind, once you protect one group you automatically sideline another. Many other ethnic, political,religious, and alternative communities of the world that have been the victims of ethnic cleanings/holocausts throughout history are effectively made second class world citizens by certain groups being given particular protections. What are needed are laws that make basic general community protections to personal safety and non violence and and so on, all the while allowing for dissention and disagreement. As the old saying goes ‘one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter’ and only history and time will make it clear which was which.

In the USA, especially in certain quarters, atheists are at personal and political risk for stating their views. Now in the world at large we are rapidly being marginalized by legislation. Those of us who see religion for the manipulative construct that it is, based upon then understandable archaic and primieval fears and lack of understanding of the workings of the universe but since having become a tool for suppression, dumming down, manipulation, mind control, political control, military power and even personal gain, face being silenced, restricted from voicing our truth, unless we do speak up and fight this revitalized form of medieval suppression.

If large segments of any society want to bury their heads in the proverbial sand and slip off into gossamer fantasies about life after death, the meek inheriting the earth, gaggles of virgins, arising from the dead, reincarnation, instant creation of the universe and such, that is their right, just as long as it always remains the right of that little boy to point at this ‘emperor’ and reveal him as being as naked as the day he was born despite his proclaimation of being adorned with splendid raiment.

[ Edited: 18 December 2009 10:57 AM by DYLAN ]
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Posted: 18 December 2009 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Irish law sounds absurd.  The same can be said of the UN’s efforts.  I don’t know what U.S. laws you refer to; as far as I am aware, there is no law which specifically prohibits or penalizes anti-semitic (to the exclusion of other) conduct, verbal or physical.  There are laws, of course, which penalize discriminatory conduct based on the exercise of religion or a religious assemby.  There is a tendency, unfortunate I think, to push the adoption of laws creating “hate crimes” (comes to close to “thought crimes” for my comfort level).

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Posted: 18 December 2009 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I accept what you say but although there are not yet any specific laws in the US I feel that the following two are dangerously close.

The 2009 Hate Crimes Prevention Act
  1. The Department of Justice FBI web site (fbi.gov) defines them as follows:
“A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.”

My concern about this law is that a legal battle could easily ensue about what the government considers a ‘crime’. At the moment I would hope that the general laws in the US defining a ‘crime’ would be used.

I am more concerned with the following law from the Bush era (2004).To my mind, many actions by the Government of Israel parallel those of the Nazis’ and I think this is a legitimate comparison.

2.The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-332, 118 Stat. 1282) was enacted on October 16, 2004. It orders the U.S. State Department to monitor global antisemitism, reporting annually to the United States Congress.
The definition of anti-Semitism has been the focus of innumerable discussions and studies. While there is no universally accepted definition, there is a generally clear understanding of what the term encompasses.
Quote: ‘For the purposes of this report, anti-Semitism is considered to be hatred toward Jews (individually and as a group) that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity. An important issue is the distinction between legitimate criticism of policies and practices of the State of Israel, and commentary that assumes an anti-Semitic character.
The demonization of Israel, or vilification of Israeli leaders, sometimes through comparisons with Nazi leaders, and through the use of Nazi symbols to caricature them, indicates an anti-Semitic bias rather than a valid criticism of policy concerning a controversial issue.

The Catch-22 here is that surely if, to become an Israeli citizen, you have to be a member of the Jewish religion, then it could be assumed that the Israeli State is a religiously non-democratic, monotheistic Jewish State and this allows Israel and its supporters
the opportunity to wave the ‘anti-semitism flag’ the moment that any serious criticism is aimed at them. This effectively removes the chance for those of us who feel they are justified in showing cause for ‘legitimate criticism’ against the jewish State of Israel from stating their case without risking breaking the above mentioned US law. In effect, US citizens are muzzled by this contradiction and Israel escapes much needed criticism to the point that perfectly legitimate UN statements of criticism are killed by the deliberate lack of USA’s support , thereby, to my mind, making a self-serving mockery of that body as well as the USA’s so called support for ‘justice’. These denials only reveal our government as the manipulative body that it is and far from the moral bastion of freedom that it claims to be.

I have, for a long time seen some alarming (psychological) comparisons between, for example, a situation where a single person who has suffered great trauma, has not come to terms with that inner turmoil and who then acts out against that original trauma on his/her external world (as if it were the original perpetrator) and organizations or nations that perpetuate the same neurotic behavior. In psychological terminology this is known as ‘projection’.

What I see taking place is a truly traumatized group (the Jews), understandably having difficulty with the horrors perpetuated upon it by the Nazis, then evolving policies against the Palestinians ( who themselves have legitimate cause for fighting the crimes enacted upon them) such as ghettoization (the wall), destruction of sources of income, farms and infrastructure, outright land and water source theft, restriction of movement, denial of critical medical services, military action using illegal munitions and more. All of these actions, one could legitimately argue, mirroring policies of the Nazis.

The arguament that Israel is merely protecting itself by these actions does no longer holds any weight. You cannot engage in wholesale land theft and all the other atrocities in the name of self defence. You have long ago stepped across that pain to neuroses line I describe above.The originally experienced atrocity has evolved now into a projected neurotic behavior upon a third ‘victim’.

This writer, who has previously struggled for decades with, on one hand, great sympathy for the Jews ( I have wept many a tear in sympathy; been to Dachau; as a child at the end of WW2, lived 200 yards from the entrance to the Porta Westfalica concentration camp; seen, as a film student, numerous films, both documentary and commercial, that depict these WW2 atrocities;) and on the other, equal sympthy for the need for justice for the Palestinians, has almost completely lost any sympathy for the former and has almost complete sympathy now for the latter. This balance will only be corrected now by a significant change in direction.

[ Edited: 18 December 2009 10:55 AM by DYLAN ]
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Posted: 18 December 2009 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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As I indicated, I’m no fan or “hate crime” legislation.  I confess I didn’t know of the 2004 law you reference, which seems pointless ( to an extent depending, I suppose, on what kind of “review” is made) and potentially dangerous, if misused.

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