When was the last time you rushed into a place of worship while a service was taking place, and told the preacher to shut up? My guess is that you have never done this while sober.
Because you know that it is impolite to butt in to other people’s conversations and demand that they stop talking.
And yet that is what would-be censors are always trying to do. At St Mary’s College, on other people’s Facebook pages, at literature festivals, and on the website of Jesus and Mo, they have butted in with their rude – and sometimes menacing – demands for silence.
It is the height of bad manners. Those of us who understand the value of free expression wouldn’t dream of being so discourteous.
In fact, far from telling believers to shut up, we WANT them to keep talking. Because that is how their ideas are exposed to light and – inevitably – laughter.
In the end, there is only one solution available to those who don’t want their beliefs to be laughed at: stop believing funny things.
So this is my message to the religious censors: we do not merely ASK that you show us the same courtesy that we show you. We INSIST on it.
We are going to be criticizing your scriptures, lampooning your prophets, and laughing at your deeply held beliefs for many years to come. You can complain about us. You can ignore us. Or you can respond in kind with ridicule and laughter of your own.
But you cannot shut us up.
Thank you to everyone here for helping to get that message across.
To celebrate the words, here is a recent Jesus and Mo cartoon which sums up the message nicely. Remember, Jesus is Jesus, Mo is Mohamed, and the invisible third character is the wise and wonderful barmaid.
|Jesus and Mo - with Menace!|
Incidentally, the title of this blog post does not strictly apply to the above speech, but it was drawn from another speech at the event. They were the words of some islamist bigot who wrote in a blog post on a site called 'Islamic Awakening' (which I decline to link to - demonstrating that I really am islamophobic).
You can hear a report about the rally on the excellent Pod Delusion podcast, Episode 123. The Pod Delusion also provided a recording of the whole Freedom of Expression event, which features some great speakers! I'll be listening to it again - all of it - soon.
Who indeed did give 'this kafir' the right to speak, I say, speaking as another proud kafir.
Well - this is England. Nobody needed to give us the right. I was born with it, thanks to the bravery of all our ancestors who fought for these rights. Nobody has the 'right' to take the right of free speech away from us.
The odd thing is that the right to free speech gives the Islamist bigots the right to question it.
In this country we celebrate that fact as a victory for freedom!