I am following the press and jumping to, quite sensible, conclusions about the motivations for the murder of 12 people in Paris. They were murdered because they did the job that is necessary in a free country.
It is currently believed that the 12 people were murdered in revenge for printing a cartoon depicting Mohammed a few years ago.
If you know me or read these communications you will understand that I don’t “get” religion. It is quite obviously a false representation of the universe. However, I do understand why people are religious. I get that. However, I am quite at liberty to think your beliefs are crazy. I am also at liberty to tell whomever I want that I think your beliefs are crazy. I don’t do this [too much] because for some reason it is considered bad to insult someone’s beliefs in a sky-fairy, zombie god child or burning bush. That, I also don’t understand. Why is it so taboo to say what I think about a virgin woman impregnated by god to have a son who he knows he will kill, oh, and then resurrect? Why can’t I even question religious holidays and ceremonies without feeling as though I am committing a massive faux pas? Isn’t it crazy that we have whole degree courses and careers dedicated to studying something demonstrably at odds with evidence? I digress.
As I have removed religious texts from my moral guidance I need to explain that there is no ultimate right or wrong, no ultimate moral authority. We, as a society, have decided over time what we consider to be acceptable behaviour and what is not. Originally these rules were derived from religion but they aren’t anymore. Laws change over time to reflect how society changes and what society [generally] accepts. Yes, there are always going to be people on the fringes of societal behaviour and beliefs and these people will make lots of noise but they can fuck off. Our judiciary makes the decisions and I am glad I live in a free country. I am NOT going to use the free speech argument because I honestly don’t think we have that in this country [UK], I am unsure that it is enshrined in law. It can’t be because an hate speech or aggressive tweets could land you in lots of trouble, we also have thought crime in the UK.
Whether you are religious or not you probably agree that killing someone is a BAD thing to do. It’s immoral. It’s against society. You may or may not extend that to the state killing by using the death penalty or going to war. I do think that war can be justified but I struggle with that very much. It is clear to me that we have a duty to give people freedom. My current thoughts are that “freedom” means a free and fair judiciary [thanks to JPW] and a liberal penal code, this may or may not occur within a democracy. For example: it is wrong to outlaw homosexuality, although legalisation was a recent thing in the UK. It is definitely very WRONG to have the death sentence for homosexuality. This paragraph could go further but I need to move on.
In what is generally called The West we are free to insult our politicians and other leaders. We can draw cartoons of them. We can write songs about them. We can make fun of them. For them it is considered part of the job [where is Spitting Image now?] This is freedom. It is our laws that allow us to do that. This should be a freedom everywhere. If you can’t do these things then I hope that one day you will be able to. You will have a long struggle ahead but we can all live in a world where we can rip into those in power.
We also make fun of religion. If my joke makes you question your religion then your religion isn’t up to much is it? If you can’t accept my joke, my valid point or the fact that your holy book was written many years after the events and from hearsay and is not really what happened then YOU have the problem. If the historical evidence doesn’t fit your religious narrative then the problem is yours. You are very welcome to insult me, my thoughts and beliefs and my ideals. I am still free to have those views.
If the image on the left is fine, but the image on the right offends you then I guess you have the right to be offended. However I have the right to produce this image. You need to get over it. Stop being outraged.
Killing 12 people because they belonged to an organisation that published some cartoons, some drawings proves that you are fucked up. You represent the worst of your religion. The worst of Islam and you do a disservice to all Muslims. While we must remember that 3 people killed 12 others today we should also remember that the vast majority of Muslims do not go around killing people because they hold different views and morals. They accept that, much like politicians, people will question them and what their holy book says.
It’s been quite a while since the major Christian faiths went around the world killing everyone and fucking things up quite a bit. But they did do it. And they did it in the name of religion. For a thousand years you could be killed or imprisoned for being the wrong religion in the “western” countries. But, we matured. We moved religion to the fringes and outside government. We now have religious and cultural freedom. Not yet in the USA though. There are MANY problems with the religious right and Christianity imposing crazy laws to oppress the rights we take for granted [and many Catholic countries too]. I am not claiming we are perfect. We aren’t, there’s still progress to be made. We spend more on dog food that we do on feeding the poor.
It appears these 12 murders were committed in the name of Islam. Islam needs to stand up to the fringes of its society and push-back, it should reform those fringes. Islam needs to shout as loud as possible that it is a reformed religion and extremism won’t be tolerated. It’s easy to take young men and radicalise them. It’s what young men are good at. In the West we have sport, PlayStation and music videos. We can distract many from the outliers of society, but we don’t always succeed. We still have people who do bad things. It’s what happens in any society. We try to minimise that though. We do this through freedom of the press, freedom of society, freedom of the judiciary.
I know this sounds all high and mighty. I can see that people would think I am shouting “aren’t I a good atheist and all the religions, especially Islam bad. Isn’t the West wonderful with its freedoms and Coca Cola”. Well, at the moment, most world wide terrorism is Islamic. It’s Islamic states that sponsor this terrorism. What country has the death penalty for atheism? Saudi Arabia (where women can’t drive too). I am not trying to hold the UK up as a beacon of excellence. We do plenty wrong, like invade a country illegally on dodgy evidence and then rationalise it post hoc. We have tortured. We have spied on our citizens. We have interned people with little evidence. We are not perfect. But we are at least trying to do the best we can. Also, if I want to question politicians I can. I can become a politician if I want. I can drink whenever I want I can eat what I want. I can believe in what I want. I don’t have to go to church. I am free to live my life how I want to.
We should not be surprised that murders like these things happen. What is abhorrent though is the reasoning behind these killings. Religion can be a good thing, I’m not sure it’s necessary, but it exists for now and so we should tolerate it when it is a force for good. Also people seem to take it so seriously. But we should NOT accept ANY reason or organisation that legitimises and encourages murder.
If you would like to read more cartoons that uses Jesus, Mohammed, Moses and a barmaid as its main characters then you should read JesusandMo.
Here’s a cartoon: