Friday, January 01, 2010

Why we need blasphemy

Pat Condell, in one of his wonderfully cranky YouTube rants, opined that the Danes (I think it was the Danes) were probably wondering what the hell had happened to their free country since Islam showed up. The idea that freedom should surrender without a fight to religious fundamentalism of any kind, but especially that which has only fear and violence to support itself, is disgusting. And craven laws like that passed in Ireland, which naively strip away basic rights out of the fear of even a little bit of violence, merely give the fundamentalists what they want: a culture of oppression which is the only kind of culture where fundamentalism can thrive.

Now from Denmark comes word that a Somali terrorist has been shot (to which I say "Good," and the PC crowd can flame away all they like) and wounded attempting to break into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who was responsible for some of the controversial Mohammed cartoons that caused such a stink some years ago. The man's goal was, of course, not to sit down over coffee with Westergaard to offer constructive critiques and rebuttals to his work, but to murder him, which is of course a perfectly rational response to a cartoon.

Once more with feeling: if your religion cannot stand up to a fucking cartoon, it ain't the cartoon that has the problem.

I have spoken to a number of atheists who, with the very best of intentions, have naively asserted that the best thing to do when faced with the violence of radical religious extremists is to sit down, shut up, and not get them riled, because really, we don't want anyone to get hurt, do we? That they cannot see how this cowardice and capitulation gives religious lunatics the power over us they wanted all along never ceases to amaze me. And does anyone actually think that, by appeasing them once in this way, they'll be satisfied and decide they can stop shooting and bombing and whatever else it is sky-daddy has told them to do this week, "peace" be upon him? Let's do that as a multiple choice question: A) No; B) No; C) Hell no!; D) What, are you stupid? Once they know that a tiny bit of fear is all it takes to control you, then they'll just keep demanding and threatening more and more, until you're afraid to wipe your tender bottom without their divine mandate.

People, what we need is more blasphemy, more anger and more outrage in the face of this lunacy. Religious extremists are the cockroaches in the kitchen, and only the light of reason will send them scurrying to hide. Belief systems propped up by violence are ones that have already failed. No respect should be given them. So pick up your pens, cartoonists, and blaspheme your butts off! And if they turn up at your door, well...shoot first. If they really think they're the only ones out there to be feared, they obviously haven't heard Matt Groening's dictum: "It is unwise to annoy a cartoonist!"


  1. Wow. This makes me want to start drawing cartoons. Viva La Revolución!

  2. How revolting. That anyone could look at this situation and think the cartoonists are in the wrong makes me both weep and vomit for my species.

    Sometimes it seems like Europe is stretched tight as a bowstring around the issue of Islam. The thought of what will happen when it snaps is pretty terrifying. This comes, I should say, from someone who has never been to Europe and knows very little about it as a whole.

  3. I read about the guy who try to enter and break in Kurt Westergaart's home, and I was happy the intruder got shot. The "Danish cartoons scandal" is one of the events of the decade that epitomized how this decade had sunk low in the irrational, the fear and the stupidity. That was also the most depressive news we could find about mankind: people willing to kill because of a few cartoons. I am really happy this intruder was shot. And I am all for more blasphemies.

  4. I find it kind of funny that the way King George the Second(of all people) articulated this issue was extremely apt. Terrorists do hate our freedom.

  5. Guys...

    The situation is Europe isn't as simple as is being portrayed. Nobody tried to kill anyone "over a cartoon." That's ignoring the deep, nasty anti-immigrant racism and religious bigotry that is sweeping Europe as fast or faster than Islam.

    The Swiss banned minarets, the Italians just had a "White Christmas" anti-immigrant sweep... Europe is stretched tight with racism and xenophobia, with Muslims being blamed for their own victimization, and for behaving in completely unacceptable ways when provoked. Muslims have absolutely no right to be violent, but acting as though they are stupid, crazy, and are completely unprovoked is also wrong.

  6. At times the saying those that forget history are doomed to repeat it, really hits the spot.

    This is one of those times as the people talking of appeasement forget that last time major appeasement was used, it lead to WW2.

    Appeasement is merely a nicer word for bribery and that never works on the long run. Continued bribery leads to feeling of entitlement by the bribed and to feeling of impotence by the briber and only thing that was accomplished is that the boiling point was reached later but now the bribed is better equipped to take by force what it wanted in the beginning.

  7. Any one having any doubts about the dark side the islamic faith, needs to read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "Infidel". Of course Pat Condells rants are shorter and very much to the point.

    This bending over backwards to accommodate the demands of "faith" is eroding the core secular values of a free society. The recent criminalization of the criticism of religion by the UN and now Ireland are a direct assault on free speech. These resolutions are usually supported by the christian churches. It seems that supporting any faith is better than allowing for secular human rights to continue.

    There has been some backlash with the passage in Switzerland of a ban on minarets. The Swiss have been criticized as bigots and this may be partially true. There are not always good ways to express dissatisfaction with demanding groups that want to take your rights away.

  8. Improbable Joe: Nobody tried to kill anyone "over a cartoon."

    Um, except the dude last night shot by police while attempting to assassinate Kurt Westergaart.

    That's ignoring the deep, nasty anti-immigrant racism and religious bigotry that is sweeping Europe as fast or faster than Islam.

    Whether this is happening or not is entirely irrelevant to the fact a Somali terrorist attempted to assassinate a cartoonist last night. Granted, the attempted assassination cannot possibly help the plight of non-terrorist Muslims facing discrimination and hatred because people are sick of being blown up or shot at random on the street. I'd say Muslims round the globe need to do some serious house-cleaning — and I don't just mean strongly-worded disapprovals whenever some al Qaeda stooge shoots up a food court — if they want folks to top looking at them askance.

    Europe is stretched tight with racism and xenophobia, with Muslims being blamed for their own victimization...

    Again, there's some validity to this. Though I hasten to point out that Islam is not a race. Definitely there's xenophobia and religious discrimination. People are simply fed up and want the lunacy to stop, and they understandably don't know whom to trust. I'm not justifying any of this, especially where the mistrust may be unfair, just laying out the reality.

  9. It is a worry trend in Europe that criticism of Islam is seen a race issue. Many religions have subjected to far worse critique than Islam. The fact that many of the followers of Islam belong to certain ethnic groups is beside the point. It is just plain stupid to conflate criticism as racism. You would think that Islam just wanted to shut up it critics.

  10. To me, there's a big difference between xenophobia and racism.

    Races are groupings of people via physical appearance. Races don't have any morally significant traits.

    Cultures do have traits. Some are good, some are neutral, and some are bad.

    (For instance, I think most people would be happy to criticize western culture for its tendency to objectify women in advertising and push unreasonable beauty standards as if they were morally important)

    So, to me, it's entirely reasonable to be wary about new cultures. Some worries will be totally unfounded. And others won't be.

    (For instance, most liberals would agree that other cultures could reasonably worry about some of the implications of an influx of western culture. )

    I feel like there's a huge hostility towards any criticism of Islam-tied culture in Europe. One side seems to instantly call it 'racism'. The other seems to call it blasphemy. Both are blocking a very important discussion.

    Let people openly criticize and debate a new culture. Where their concerns are unfounded, we can show them why. Where their concerns have merit, they can be addressed.

    But blocking discussion of legitimate concerns makes people suspect that the discussion is stifled as all their are legitimate.

  11. I translated this great post to Turkish, created a blog and posted it. Here is the real blasphemy:

  12. People who oppose this law should create a new religion according to which driving cars or wearing clothes or something like that is considered "grossly abusive or insulting."

    This might not work if new religions have to be accepted by the state, because they could of course just reject it.

  13. (blasphemy)
    Islam is a gay religion.

    They don't want to see women, they hang out primarily with a bunch of hairy men, in their big pretty buildings.

    Their idea of heaven is lounging by a river in the sun, dressed in silk robes being waited on hand and foot by fresh-faced pearl-skinned young boys in silk, drinking ginger-ale from fancy silver cups and eating grapes.
    (77:11-21 of the holy Quran, handed down by Mohammad, blessed be his name and fabulous be his shoes, or whatever)

    Gay, gay, gay, and yet they're such homophobes, no wonder they're so irritable.

  14. @anonymous x 10
    Gee, you mean like Judaism, where driving a car on the sabbath is offensive? Or using a camera on the sabbath warrants you getting beaten up?

    Pretty sure Judaism is recognized by them, no need to start your own.

  15. Again no need to start your own. Just start narcing on churches. EVERY religion blasphemies every other.

    "Jesus Christ is GOD" is blasphemy to the other Abrahamic religions.

  16. @Improbable Joe-Nobody tried to kill anyone? Have you read the news? Somebody sure did. Just like those who burned the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria back in 2006 in "protest" sure did seem to have the intention of killing in the back of their mind. That there is racism and bigotry regarding Muslim minorities in Europe is beside the point: the cartoons were criticising faith and the violence Islamist use. Judging by the grotesquely ferocious reaction of the Islamic world against the cartoons, it seems to me that it was spot on criticism. Funny how when somebody criticises Islam or defends the freedom to criticise it apologists implies that this is triggered by racism. Can we apply Godwin's law here? It seems to me that it is a cowardly attempt to deflect the debate and make us forget what is at the center of it: fanatical violence that takes its roots in a faith.

  17. Oh, and it might not be relevant to the topic, or maybe it is, but I bought The Satanic Verses today, thinking about the cartoon controversy and this attack on Westergaart's life.

  18. Improbable Joe is correct that racists and agenda-driven xenophobes exploit each and every such incident for their purposes. That's nothing to be surprised about.

    When I walk through the inner city, I see black people from Africa, I see brown people from anywhere between the Caribbean and Pakistan, I see people of Asian descent, I see people in religious uniforms and people from the same places in colorful and fashionable western clothes.

    They are not being oppressed, the police have hired officers of various cultural backgrounds to communicate effectively with victims or perpetrators or demonstartors in their own language. They live in our free societies.

    And yet, every few weeks, apparently with increasing frequency, one or a few crack and try to commit murder on specific people or on random civilians in public transportation or restaurants.

    These people don't decide to become murderers because they suddenly realise that they're being oppressed by not being allowed to build a prayer tower or to let a goat bleed to death in their back yard. They crack because preachers of hate sit comfortably in their home countries and seed their messages of war, murder and atrocity across the globe, targeting the credulous young, year after year.

    Any such preacher must be removed. Whoever advocates murder of innocents (including those who he might deem guilty under some arbitrary but of course divinely legitimized law) does not have the right to free speech in a world that tries to become civilized. The gardeners of hate can not be considered tolerable citizens, no matter where they live. We live in the information age, where hate is being stuffed directly into the heads of our neighbors, from Yemen or Pakistan, from Florida or London.

    "Please, muslims of the world, condemn the preachers of hate, please stop their insanity". Yes, please do so. In the meantime, while we recall waiting for you to do this for decades, we take action. We'll remove them for you if you are unwilling or unable. If that means boycotting your country until your Madrassas are closed and torn down and your bearded cowards in jail or dead, then that's what will be done. We wont be able to catch every one of them, but we don't have to. A dozen targeted interventions a month should send a clear enough message.

    This attempted murder will fuel more racism, more persecution complexes, more hate and more fear. The people who are responsible for turning young men into weapons are right now rubbing their hands in comfortable safety. They just have to wait, click on "upload" and "send" now and then, and watch the world reshaped into the form they desire.

  19. Islam is only one side of the equation. Western racism, xenophobia, and bad socioeconomic conditions for immigrants are the other side of it... and it is a side that we should not ignore. Nobody is killing anyone OVER A CARTOON. The cartoon is simply a focal point for all the other issues. To pretend that the cartoon is the reason for the violence leave us in an illogical, uncritical, irrational position. I thought skeptics were better than that.

    You've got terrible social and economic situations for immigrants in Europe. You've got evil Muslim religious and political leaders exploiting the pain of those immigrants for power. You've got a vast middle of innocent people (white and brown and black, Christian, Muslim, Jew, and even the odd Atheist) caught in the crossfire of the hate coming from both sides. Demonizing Muslims in the same way that Muslim extremists demonize us? That's just feeding the flames, not doing a damn thing to help put them out.

    That doesn't mean you appease anyone, or make a bullshit anti-blasphemy rule. As far as I'm concerned, you can take a Bible, Torah, and Koran and piss on all of them, and post pictures on the Internet. Freedom of speech is more important than the sensibilities of some superstitious and gullible people. Just don't pretend that "they hate us for our freedoms" when there are real physical acts of harm going on towards Muslims, real grievances that deserve to be addressed no matter how many isolated murderous morons react the wrong way to those real harms.

  20. "Nobody is killing anyone OVER A CARTOON. The cartoon is simply a focal point for all the other issues."

    I'm sorry, Joe, that simply isn't true.

    You seem to be one of those who earnestly, even desperately, wants to avoid seeing Jihadism even when it's staring you in the eyes.

    Please spare us the warmed-over Marxist claptrap about "root causes" and socioeconomic THIS versus alienation THAT and blah blah blah...

    Whether it's bombing womens clinics, shooting doctors, blowing up airplanes or trying to kill someone for "blasphemy," these people are not kidding. They mean what they say. The believe what they claim to. Their cold-eyed, homicidal dogma is the real McCoy.

    They are not symbols, cyphers, metaphors, or what have you of some other problem and they would laugh in your face if they heard your palliative explanations.

  21. Improbable Joe ignores the fact that just portraying THE PROPHET even flatteringly is punishable by death or TORCHAR!

    Seriously, there's a difference of fearing mexicans because they TAKE OUR JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERBS and Muslims who you know...have a dogmatic history of killing us.

    How can Western society be souly to blame when Islam does not WANT to assimilate. The dogma has the chosen people as inherently above the piggish non-believers and worthy of death and torture. There can't be real respect there, there's a dogmatic 'you suck and are beneath us' that might just deservedly piss off naturals when immigrants show it.

  22. @IJ-It is pretty clear that some fanatics DID try to murder because of a cartoon. They did not brun embassies because Denmark is now the economic exploiter. Nobody here is trying to stygmatise all Muslims as fanatics, but one cannot deny that there are Muslims that are fundamentalists. And also many moderate, sadly, who are ready to excuse any athrocities for some tortuous reasoning about social justice and what have you. This is not exclusive to Islam, obviously. But it would be dishonest and frankly suicidal to deny the existence of fanatics and religious people who are also moral relativists because of their faith.

  23. @Ithonicfury

    Why are you being so snippy with me? I'm sorry the Judaism/sabbath thing slipped my mind for a moment. I didn't realize that was a cause for people to try to put me down.

  24. again:
    Every concession confirms them in their belief that they are right.

    'A religion that has the truth must show no tolerance to others' (Zakir Naik)

    'If the Europeans do not want to embrace islam and become muslims, why do they let us build mosques?'

  25. Religious extremists are by definition not mainstream. Their beliefs are on the margin and are not shared by the majority. But that guy who tried to take-out that cartoonist was not on the margins of his religion, he is the modern face of Islam. This is not a peaceful religion - it is a violant, agressive religion that rejects Christ as the Son of God - their religion is an abonination! No Christian would attempt to murder someone because of a cartoon. If this was the case, Tracy Harris would be in big trouble...

  26. I've watched the entire cartoon debacle from right next door to Denmark, and I have to agree with what Improbable Joe said.

    I am not opposed to the cartoons themselves, I believe the statement the cartoonist and his publisher made when they commented that the drawing of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban wasn't so much saying that Islam is a religion of violence but that the terrorists have taken Islam hostage, and that it was up to Joe Moslem in the street to do something about it. I am however opposed to a good many of the people and groups in Scandinavia and Europe who took the cartoons to heart - the people who share the same goals as the radical mullahs and imams, namely to polarize opinion against moslems as much as possible. Yes, this is the far right, and it seems to me that the far right has gotten a whole lot closer lately.

    In short, these cartoons have been embraced by an ever more vocal faction of European public life who do not make the difference between criticizing Islam and pissing all over its followers.

    The attack on Westergaard was not justifiable and not an appropriate response, but saying that the attempt was made because of the cartoon alone is an oversimplification. The cartoons may have been the triggering factor - indeed it probably was - but I see very few people ask themselves "How could a young immigrant become so alienated from Danish society?"... That is, other than following it up with the 'obvious' "Oh, he's a moslem, they can't be integrated. Why do we even have them here?"

    The poster Raymond said "It is just plain stupid to conflate criticism as racism", and in this he is entirely right. It is equally stupid, however, to assume that there are no racist critics, or people who hold bigoted views similar to racism only directed towards followers of a given religion, in this case.

    The attack on Westergaard wasn't just the product of a series of cartoons and some religious nuttery, it was all of that plus almost a decade's worth of extremists on both sides working hard to paint Europe's moslem minority with the alienation brush.


PLEASE NOTE: The Atheist Experience has moved to a new location, and this blog is now closed to comments. To participate in future discussions, please visit

This blog encourages believers who disagree with us to comment. However, anonymous comments are disallowed to weed out cowardly flamers who hide behind anonymity. Commenters will only be banned when they've demonstrated they're nothing more than trolls whose behavior is intentionally offensive to the blog's readership.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.