Friday, September 28, 2012

Free Speech and Religion

Crowds stampeding through the streets.  Embassies attacked and burned.  People of all races and creeds killed.  All of this because of a stupid film that seeks to portray a religious leader in a very horrible light.  These events represent the clash of the values of one group of societies against another.  Tolerance seems to always be the best approach, but the world is now being asked to implement universal "anti-blasphemy" policies to prevent insults to religion.  This might seem to be a joke but the topic was recently debated at the United Nations.  Is there ever a reason in which free speech should be restricted to protect religious sensibility?

The answer to that question is a resounding no.  Limiting expression to prevent insults to religion is a step towards tyranny.  Use of policies or laws like this would be the first step that any government could use to silent dissent.  The leader of any nation or any group could embrace religion in an effort to persecute their opponents.  Any dissent raised against a government or a group that is based upon religious principles could be turned into some from of blasphemy

Even the discussion of this issue is a bad idea.  All it does is serve to highlight the differences between free societies and those societies that are caught up in a shallow world view that revolves around a distorted perception of religion

Open societies cherish the concept of free speech.  In these societies free speech is something that is guaranteed in laws and constitutions.  The only time in which expression is penalized is when it is used to advocate violence.  In rare cases speech that purposely defames a living person can be found to be libelous and the offender ordered to pay damages.  Cases of defamation and speech inciting violence in most open societies are rare, because freedom of expression is so widely accepted that people are allowed to express just about any thought.

Freedom of expression should make religions and beliefs stronger.  If a religion is attacked in some way through use of the freedom of speech, then the believers in that religion should shrug their shoulders and laugh it off as they will become stronger in their beliefs.  If there is a need to lash out and harm those who criticize a religion then the believers must fundamentally have a weak belief in their religion.

The societies that seek to inhibit free speech must believe that people are not strong enough to deal with competing views.  If a person canot bear the thought of something that runs counter to their beliefs then fundamental they must be weak in their beliefs.

This brings another point into play - the freedom to wear what you want.  In so many societies there is a restriction on what some members of the society - particularly females can wear.  There are many explanations for these society mores.  The one explanation that seems to have the widest acceptance is that women need to cover their bodies so that they won't tempt the men.  Are the men that weak that they can't stand to see a women's calves or face without being tempted into thoughts of lust? 

Societies that seek to stop freedom of expression or seek to force one part of the society to wear clothes that cover them up are weak.  It means that the people of the society are not strong in their viewpoints and can easily be swayed by words or sights.  These societies must change.  The human spirit cannot be restrained - freedom must eventually prevail in all cases.  It will forever be in human nature to seek out the freedom to express oneself!  It is a fundamental desire of being human to express oneself and to deny it is to deny a part of what makes us human.

Personal Commentary:
This whole debate over freedom of speech and expression is ridiculous.  Granted the stupid film about Islam wasn't nice.  But really folks, if you have a strong belief in Islam, why can't you just laugh the film off as opposed to going out and rioting.  The same for the controversies that have erupted here in the United States when Christ has been portrayed in very negative ways.  If you really believe in Christianity - just laugh it off.

And there there is my personal peeve about societies that force women to cover their bodies.  Come on folks - that is just so silly!  When the temperature is near 100 degrees here in Denver and I see some women walking around totally covered up I feel so bad for them.  And the reason for it are just so ridiculous.  To the men of those religions/societies - are you really so weak that you can't stand to see a woman's thigh without having some kind of horrible sexual lust over take you?  That is just pathetic!!  Come on - man up and realize life isn't just about sex.  Really you can work and associate with women without getting pulled into doing horrible things.

Really - it is just absolutely pathetic that issues like limiting freedom of speech to protect religious sensibilities are being discussed.  Grow up people and get a life.  Remember what the founders of your religions said - because they always laughed at the criticism as opposed to going wild.

Anyway - Just my thoughts for the day as I was reading about the whole issue this evening.

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

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