I was reading through some posts at my local Atheist web site, from which I am banned, and came across this interesting article.

Push to call blasphemy a crime

Oxford dictionary: Blasphemy

To look at this personally, I have no views on blasphemy, if somebody doesn't want me to blaspheme, or draw Mohamed, because they would feel offended by it,  I would then not blaspheme, nor would I draw Mohamed. (please feel free to tell me not drawing Mohamed is offensive to you if you like:)

I then looked at the UN's view on the death penalty. (I thought about a compromise, get rid of the death penalty first, and then I'd agree to the blasphemy law, but that would be a stupid idea, the death penalty should be abolished regardless)

And Islam's view of the death penalty in relation to blasphemy.

And Christianity

 

I have no problem with not committing blasphemy, I think it's a good personal choice to never commit blasphemy, but to make an international law out of it is a little scary. The main reason why it is scary is because; what is offensive to one person may not be offensive to another. What one person considers blasphemous may not be considered blasphemous by another. This law can only ever be judged by using personal opinion, it can never be judged objectively in any way. 

 

Any opinions out there? Or problems with my views on the subject?

Tags: Blasphemy

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Hi Loren,

How are things?

I was thinking about your statement: 

Blasphemy is nothing but WORDS ... and words can only hurt where people enable those words and give them PERMISSION TO HURT.

What I sometimes try and do, for fun, with certain statements, is try and make the logic behind them universal.

Eg: If we change the word 'Blasphemy' with the 'N' word (ie: the racist word for black people), what would the effect be?

Firstly some non racist examples of the 'N' word:

white girls rant about blacks

Chris Rock

Kramer

Dave Chappelle

When I look at these video clips, I see different interpretations of the 'N' word. Kramer's use of the 'N' word isn't so much about hating black people, it's more about making those particular African Americans feel bad and upset because they are making Kramer feel that way, it's more about revenge than racism. Dave Chappelle use of the 'N' word is analogous to person. Chris Rock's use is akin to White Trash (Bogan/Westy in Australia). And the teenage white girls use, is just teenagers ranting.

Then some other examples are:

Neo-Nazis

Russia

James Byrd Jr

The crazy people in these three examples are the types of people who use the 'N' word in a racist way. They use it out of pure hatred.

And comic relief.

Gay KKK

Even though I have given a lot of different examples of how the 'N' word can be used and interpreted, ultimately if a non-black person uses it, it will more than likely be interpreted as racist. Feelings will be hurt. Emotions will kick in. Not by all people, but by those who are offended by the 'N' word. 

I think the same emotional response happens when theists hear blasphemous remarks, the same feelings are also hurt. And again, not by all people, just those who are offended by blasphemy. 

Finally, what I am trying to find here is a line. Where do we draw the line between freedom of expression and out-right offensive statements.

One last pointThere are some important distinctions to be made between using the 'N' word and blasphemy.

1. Black people exist, God doesn't.

2. Racist words are almost always directed toward specific people, blasphemy is usually not directed towards specific people.

The above are just some fun thoughts I had.

Leveni, the "N" word is just another word, like it or not.  Its problem is that it has been given significance out of proportion with what it represents.  It is a racial slur, like "Spick" or "Wop" or "Kike," but made far more notorious by its association with slavery in the United States.

As with any such word, the problem is less the word itself, but people's REACTION to that word.  That reaction, like the reaction to blasphemy, is LEARNED ... and if it can be learned, it can be unlearned, even as we have unlearned any kind of consideration or respect for deities or the beliefs associated with them.  In this day and age, we in the US have yielded such power to one lousy word that it holds us in thrall, but with very interesting conditions.  I can't help but note that black people in places employ this word all the time in general conversation, and comedians like Chris Rock use it for shock value in front of black and white audiences.

If a WHITE person uses it, though, the reaction and impact is an entirely different matter.  Such a person is immediately looked at askance, and will almost certainly be considered a racist.  It is the poison-pill word to end all poison pills.  Interestingly, Dan Jenkins attempted to counter this trend in his comedic novel, Semi-Tough, where his main character, a white running back for the New York Giants named Billy Clyde Puckett, delivers his own take on the "N" word and observes its use by him and his teammates of both colors.  I should note, though, that Semi-Tough was originally published in 1972, long before the advent of the concept of "political correctness."

It's still down to "sticks and stones," guy ... combined with our own stupidity about language and overreaction to certain combinations of vowels and consonants which haven't the power to so much as muss a hair on our heads, let alone do hard, physical injury.  This is true whether we're talking about racial or religious slurs.  Stipulated, black people exist where god does not, but people, black or white, CHOOSE how to react to words they hear, and that choice is LEARNED.  And to close, I have to say this, because ultimately, it is a truism we all have to face:

No one has the right not to be offended.

Hi Loren.

No one has the right not to be offended.

I can only agree with the statement because being offended is subjective. 

I want to change the direction of this discussion a bit.

1.Being offended by the 'N' word, when used by white Americans, is a deep seeded part of African American culture (it is learned, passed down from parent to child). 

2.Being offended by blasphemy, is a deep seeded part of religion, and is also learned. 

So why do humans learn to be offended? Is it some kind of defence mechanism? 

I'm no psychologist, so I don't have a precise or expert answer for you as to why people choose to be offended about WORDS.  Words can be true or false or have any number of gray-area values.  They can be associated with personal feelings of shame or inadequacy, and therewith may come the reactions that some people have to words.  For someone who sufficiently knows and owns himself, however, any attempt at insult or offense is likely going to fall on its face.

Say someone wants to accuse my mother of being a whore.  I KNOW who and what my mother is as well as what she is NOT, and my response to such a person is simple: I blow them off.  Maybe they want to call me a cocksucker.  Whether I am or not, again, all we're dealing with are WORDS here, and spurious words such as those are not worthy of my attention.  People who use these words and others are looking to exert power over another, and/or elicit a reaction.  Understanding this allows me to easily frustrate their efforts by simply not giving them what they want.  My sense is that it's lack of knowledge and/or fear of the truth of an assertion, or an over-inflation of the importance or supposed truth of someone else's words are what give rise to the reactions we see in some people.

All of this comes back to the whole issue of self-ownership and self-knowledge, two very key qualities to my own philosophy of life (if I can be said to have such a thing!).  A person who knows and understands his or her own inner workings and motivations is far less likely to be rattled by expletives or epithets.  That person may note a threat couched in such words and prepare to react based on that input, but the words themselves continue to have only the impact the listener chooses to give them.

Now ... on the OTHER hand, what about a believer who has his beliefs disparaged by one such as us?  How sure is that person in his beliefs?  How learned is he in their background?  Are we dealing with a William Lane Craig here or just some church-goer who swallows whole what he is taught, without a more wide-ranging understanding of those teachings?

A key word here is "insecurity."  By definition, a theist's beliefs are not easily verified or objectively supported, if they are supported at all (and we know they aren't!).  It's possible that this person has grown up in an environment which was insulated from outside opinions and discouraged critical thought.  When confronted by arguments which challenge what he's been taught, there may be a number of possible responses.  A well-schooled theist may attempt to defend his beliefs, using his holy book or the teachings of a more knowledgeable follower, such as WLC or one of his ilk.  OR ... feeling that such teachings should be beyond question or analysis, they may insist that those teachings have government protection from such challenges ... which leaves us where we are.

As one respondent to the Center for Inquiry's Blasphemy Contest suggested:

The reason religious beliefs need protection from ridicule is that they are ridiculous.

Maybe we need a new term, like attacking race is racism, attacking faith could be called faithism.

Unlike race, which cannot be changed and is real, faith can be changed and faith can be delusional and fraudulent (as most religions are).

Thus, I believe people can be condemned for being racist.

Though, people can be commended and given credit for being faithist, where the faith has been shown as detrimental to society and human progress.

So Faithism against Christianity and Islam should be commended, as they are both detrimental to society.

Aye M8z!   :-D  

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