International Blasphemy Rights Day takes place every September 30th, to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The purpose of this event is to set a particular day as a day to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. The focus on ‘blasphemy’ is simply because it is such a salient issue, and one for which a lot of consciousness-raising is necessary.
The goal is not out to promote hate or violence. While many perceive blasphemy as insulting and offensive, it isn’t about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others. The day was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist.
In the past few years, blasphemy laws have been making a comeback:
- In Ireland new laws were enacted in 2009.
- Many Islamic countries have blasphemy on the books. Many offenders receive jail or death.
- Since 2005, the UN General Assembly has asked to support defamation of religion.
There are many reasons why this should never happen. Just a few are:
- it limits freedom of speech and expression
- these laws are repeatedly used against minorities and the accuser’s enemies to punish them, (just read the “selected cases” section in the above links or this story which sounds very similar to the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism)
- good ideas don’t need protection, people do.
The only “reasons” I’ve ever heard for blasphemy laws being enacted are:
- my religious book says it’s wrong
- it hurts my feels/religious (in)sensibilities
These two reasons the same as the only reason you have such sensibilities is the religious book which tells you to be offended. So when someone tells me to ignore blasphemy day, they’re ignoring the fact there are hundreds of people in jail for slighting an infinite god who gets very emotional when a finite being drinks beer or worships another (apparently non-existent) god or puts a billboard saying atheists exist or draws stick figures labeling them Mohammed.
So without further ado, I give you my great blaspheme: Mohammed, Jesus, Moses, Athena, Odin, and Buddha in no particular order.
🙂 🙂 🙂
🙂 🙂 🙂
(I can’t draw.)