Today, in case you weren’t aware, is Blasphemy Day. In the spirit of the campaign organized by the Center for Inquiry, and in solidarity with those folks that live in countries where rampant ideas have more rights than people (e.g.: Ireland, where a person can be put in jail for saying something insulting about an idea like “God”), I have the following to say, below the fold so those of you with tender sensibilities can opt out now.
Still with me? Then you’re probably an atheist yourself, or you’re one of the people who don’t feel the need to defend yourselves against attacks on your faith. With that in mind, here’s what I have to say.
Fuck your gods.
All of them. Even Allah*.
None of the gods any of you have ever described, exist. Not Mithra, not Ganesh, not Wotan, not Thor, not Zeus, not Ra, not Poseidon, not Yahweh, not Allah, not Jesus, not Buddha. (Jesus and Buddha can be argued to have been men. They do not exist any longer, in any case.) And not whatever-god-you-think-I-left-out. Any god that even has the merest possibility of existing, can by necessity be nothing like the gods you guys have postulated. Not to put too fine a point on it, but: YOU. ARE. ALL. WRONG. Your hypotheses, as they were, have all failed. None of them exist, and anything that DOES exist, IF it does exist, would probably laugh at assholes like you for thinking what you do.
In Ireland, saying “God doesn’t exist” would cost you 25,000EU — enough to bankrupt most common folks, and enough therefore to land them in jail when they can’t pay the fine. Say it enough times and you could be in serious trouble. And yet, who are you hurting? They say “blasphemy is a victimless crime” (you know, since those gods don’t exist and all), so nobody’s being hurt, right? Well, obviously, some asshat theists think that any criticism levelled at their religion or what their religion can make people do, is actually levelled at THEM.
Take, for instance, my
good friend personal albatross minus the good luck, Zdenny**, whom I can’t actually ban for fear of provoking him to some form of violence, but I can silence such that his words annoy only me. In the ever-so-provocative Hermit’s video I posted recently, David Fleecewood asserts that evangelical Christians, with their death-cult armageddon new-world-order conspiracy theory mentality, their dead certainty that the Earth is 6000 years old, and their inability to realize that we’re doing damage to the only Earth that can sustain us (by virtue of the previous two assertions), are guilty of systemically harming our species. He is absolutely correct. People, acting in the name of this flawed idea, are damaging our species and its ability to continue living on this rock for any length of time, and therefore that religion, and other religions like it, should be ended somehow. Zdenny however misinterprets every single sentence as “kill the Christians before they kill us“.
Forget the fact that David was talking about killing an idea, rather than the people that adhere to it. Forget the fact that when Pythagoras advanced that the Earth could be round, proponents of the idea weren’t summarily rounding out and killing the flat-earthers. Forget that not a drop of blood has ever been shed over evolution, except perhaps by theists trying to squelch proponents of the idea or by people who later blamed some stupid eugenics idea that has nothing to do with the mechanistic explanation for diversity of life. Forget also the fact that the Crusades were entirely about killing all the proponents of Islam so that, eventually, Christianity might one day conquest the globe by the sword.
I can almost understand theists’ drive to make blasphemy illegal. They have so integrated their deity into their personhood that anyone who says “God isn’t real” is by extension doing tangible damage to religious people’s personhood by making them either defend their ideas to criticism properly, or actually think about their religion for once in their wretched lives. Thus, they need to insulate themselves from ever having to do such questioning, or such defending, because, you know, both of those involve THINKING about their religion, and we all know how damaging thought can be to dogmatically held belief.
That’s not to say that I agree with their drive to classify blasphemy as hate speech, nor others’ drive to classify hate speech as a hate crime. Hate speech is perfectly allowed, unless and until it is a direct incitement to violence or criminal activity (or indirect — I’d count “would no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” as an incitement to murder, as much as I would “God hates fags and wants them dead”, as much as I would “you must kill Christians before they kill you”). However, pointing out others’ hateful, violent or otherwise evil activity is most certainly not an incitement toward violence. Nor is pointing out how certain ideas can lead to that particular type of hateful activity. For instance, if only blasphemous speech were punished but not other types of hate speech, stuff like this video would be perfectly acceptable…
…while retorting “no, God doesn’t believe any of those things because he doesn’t exist, your ideas are stupid and wrong, and you are encouraging hate by repeating them,” would land you in jail.
Think about that — he’d be free to roam around telling people that irreligion leads to eating babies, while you’d be in jail for having a reasonable position. Where’s the justice in that?
That’s not even to mention any of the legal complications stemming from this. What if I claimed it was blasphemy that the guy in line in front of me at A&W put pickles on his burger? Would A&W have to immediately stop putting on pickles by default? How many people would it take complaining about it before A&W put a stop to the practice? Or, what would happen if atheism were somehow officially recognized as a religion, like so many theists keep suggesting it is? Who would win in a case of blasphemy vs blasphemy when someone said “there is no god, and people who think there is are blasphemers”, and a theist says “there IS a god, his name is Allah, and you’re a blasphemer for saying there isn’t”?
So, again, I ask — and this is not rhetorical — where is the justice in this?
Dan J, who has earned the right to call me friend** and I hope to have earned that right reeciprocally, has a hell of a lot more on this topic over at Relatively Unrelated, where he discusses some of the finer points regarding the difference between hate speech, obscenity, unprotected speech, and blasphemy, and a number of tangential issues in much greater depth than I’ve managed here. I strongly encourage you to go check it out, because he’s done yet another bang-up job. And he includes a short list of blasphemous phrases against a number of gods which is nothing short of sacrelicious.
* To those of you who think atheists are afraid of being killed by fringe Muslims — well, we are, but no less afraid of being killed by fringe anything-elses. The only disclaimer I will put on this is a simple plea. Please don’t kill me just because I’ve informed you that your god is a fairy tale and you have a need to shoot the messenger. Murder is wrong, whether it’s the murder of someone that agrees with your epistemological views or someone that doesn’t.
** Psst, Zdenny — need I remind you once more that when I say “you are not my friend”, that also means you can’t refer to me as your friend? Thanks for your links though — I mean, how else would Daniel M ever know to show up and proselytize at me if not for you?