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.