Sam Harris hit one out of the park with his Sept. 19 piece On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God.
The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn. This is already an old and boring story about old, boring, and deadly ideas. And I fear it will be with us for the rest of our lives.
Harris speaks of “the contagion of moral cowardice” that follows such outbreaks, and he points the finger, rightly, at my side of the aisle – liberals.
Consider what is actually happening: Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—is demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law. And where they do not immediately resort to violence in their protests, they threaten it. Carrying a sign that reads “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet” may still count as an example of peaceful protest, but it is also an assurance that infidel blood would be shed if the imbecile holding the placard only had more power. This grotesque promise is, of course, fulfilled in nearly every Muslim society. To make a film like “Innocence of Muslims” anywhere in the Middle East would be as sure a method of suicide as the laws of physics allow.
What exactly was in the film? Who made it? What were their motives? Was Muhammad really depicted? Was that a Qur’an burning, or some other book? Questions of this kind are obscene. Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.
The money quote, for me, is low on the page:
The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost.
Do I want more religious freedom? More protection for the religious at the expense of those who are not religious?
No. From the vantage point of the atheist movement, MY movement, a critical social effort still just barely born …
I want an enhanced FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION that includes religion, but also – emphatically equally – includes the freedom to criticize, mock and deride religion. The freedom to make reasoned critiques as well as fart jokes.
Speaking of which …
Mohammed STILL sucks big sweaty donkey balls.