President Obama to United Nations: ‘We Do Not Ban Blasphemy’

President Obama has disappointed nonbelievers and those who take seriously the concept of church-state separation many times. In his participation in the National Prayer Breakfast, in his continuation and expansion of the Bush-spawned “faith-based initiatives,” and his general pandering to religious figures, such has his inclusion of the risible Rick Warren at his inauguration.

But there are times when the president shows a side of himself that should help seculars take heart. Yesterday, Obama addressed the UN General Assembly, primarily on the topic of the violent unrest in the Muslim world, ostensibly over the Internet video “The Innocence of Muslims.” I am among those who feared that the response of the administration to these events might be to work too hard to try and appease these scandalized rioters with pronouncements about how bad it is to hurt religious feelings.

Instead, he said the right thing. He declared with absolute clarity that no video or hurtful speech is justification for violence, and then stood up for free expression:

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.

In what I thought was a fascinating rhetorical choice, from a writer’s perspective, Obama then looked inward for a keen example:

Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views — even views that we disagree with.

And then he makes the case for free expression I have been waiting to hear from a world leader for a while now (emphasis mine again):

We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

So yes, he’s not perfect on all of our issues. But I was proud to hear him stand up for this most basic human right before the whole world.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, the theocrats will see the point that President Obama made so eloquently as nothing more than a “Fuck You, Sensitive Faith People.”

    Because sensitive theists are sensitive.

    • Octoberfurst

       I fear you are correct. The Religious Right nuts will pounce on this and twist it to make it seem like Obama was saying he was applauding the mocking of religion.  Such people are hopelessly stupid.

      • B.A.

        If it makes you feel better, I’m a Christian Republican and I completely agree with what he said. (We’re not all crazy!)

        • Taylor Smith

           You don’t believe in science even though the evidence suggesting it is peer reviewed and completely obvious.

          You’re not all crazy.
          But you all of you have to be at least some way afraid of the truth; and prepared to live in your own imagined world where anything is justified under an imagined being (and since the being was imagined by you; it’s really you who you suppose is God; who gets to live on forever in heaven just because you deserve it)

          And you openly support Mitt Romney, or you suggest you do by being Republican. Now that isn’t crazy; it’s just plain dumb.

          Sorry but no, you didn’t make Republican’s seem sane.
          You just made them seem like they are desperate to be seen as not insane.

          • bill

            And you just made every Atheist Democrat sound like an incredible tool. 

            • Taylor Smith

               I’m an Australian; a Greens party supporter.

              But please; enlighten me as to how I got across as an incredible tool :)

              • Xxcgunnerxx

                Sweeping generalizations perhaps? Blatant assumptions? Ignorance masked as enlightenment? The list goes on. 

                • Taylor Smith

                   So people shouldn’t make generalisations? Got it. Well that was a very general statment don;t you think… hmmm how do you go about not making generalisations bro? Seems impossible to me.

                  And everyone should know everything to avoid assumptions based on their common sense. Got it.

                  And I’m ignorant?
                  To what exactly? :)
                  The fact that Christians believe in the certainty of a God and you have to be ignorant to science and modern thought to accept such things?

                  Well I’m not ignorant to that. But I’m only human.

                  How can I be less ignorant Xxcgunnerxx?Because the less igorant I am the more I can tease ignorant people :D

                • Thanhnguyen86charizard

                  As an athiest all I have to say is let people believe what they want to it only becomes a problem when people start trying to enforce their views on others. Having faith in something that has no scientific proof does not make on ignorant it just means they’re human. Superstition and science have always been a part of our culture. Just cause you choose science over religion or vice versa does not mean you’re any better or worse it just means you are human. The most beautiful thing about humans is that we can sit down, contemplate and make a decision based on the results of our thoughts. No other species on this planet can sit down to think and all of a sudden decide to be vegetarian but we can. We have the ability to go against our animal instinct so instead of fighting over who is right or wrong let’s just enjoy our ability to say no and have a good day

                • Taylor Smith

                   and while you’re bring a rational cool guy

                  religious people are slaughtering the innocent; religious or otherwise.

                  I can say without a doubt, as a batptised and confirmed Christian; there are people out there in the world who wouldn’t think twice about killing me if it came down to a choice between actual morality and their religious faith.

                  It’s 2012, is it so much to dream of a rational world? Or is it wrong to be so audacious as to demand it!?

                • mom

                  I don’t know about you all, but as a religious person I make sure I kill at LEAST 5 “non-believers” before I leave for work.  Every day.  Because us “religious people are slaughtering the innocent”.

                • Taylor Smith

                  i knew it! :P

                • Tcolec540

                  This may come across as ignorant as well but I will try to avoid that. I’m an atheist but I’m also an anti-theist.(not sure if that is an actual categorization or if I just made it up.) I don’t believe we have the right to believe what we wish about the universe simply because it is comforting to do so. I don’t believe that people are the problem. It is the religion itself. Moderate Christians, Muslims etc, are generally not bad people. They believe things that seem to me fantastical, but they would not think to harm anyone for simply disagreeing with them on their beliefs. However, the more someone becomes observant of their faith the more they find their faith compelling them to do or think terrible things in the name of it, or because of it. I’m sure most people are aware of the Steven Weinberg quote “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” I’m sure that there are at least a few islamist extremists or westboro baptist church members that if raised without the fear of an angry god, might be here having a conversation with us as opposed to trying to make the life of someone else non-existant or miserable in the name of said god. Indeed we can’t even say that religion has been misused, it is after the extremists or fundamentalists that are following perfectly in line. I think it’s time we put these fables back on the shelf and instead of being christian, Muslim, etc, we just all agree to be human.

                • Jim Fox

                  Here’s your problem- automatically you assume he means American Christians (which I’m guessing you are?); I thought it obvious he might be referring to other religions, to whom you, he and most of us here are ‘kuffar’ and ‘infidels’

                • guest

                  ha ha very funny

                • Guest

                  Probably, many (if not all) other species on the planet do make rational decisions based on experience and thought, just like we do; where do you think this ability that we are so proud of comes from anyway? Just watch your pets (or farm animals), to start with.

              • Mem Namefix

                Hi I am also an Australian and I apologize for this incredible tool, he does not reflect the typical Aussie nor the typical atheist.

                • Gary

                  What gives you the right to represent the “typical atheist” or “typical Aussie” ??
                  You politically correct douchebag!
                  Well done for stating an obvious cliche.
                  I’m an Aussie and an atheist , and he represents me and many people I know!!

                • Jasonnikolic

                  I’m with you guys too (Aussie here) Religion is escapism same thing as in nerds glued to WoW. Face reality people, It’s truth is far greater than any religion could hope to explain.

                • Darric

                  Woah there. Whats with attacking people who enjoy spending their free time playing a particular video game?
                  I’m not sure if comparing a lifestyle choice with a hobby is particularly helpful for your argument.
                  I would assume that most people who play WoW are completely aware that its a game and thus don’t pray to the Lich King to rain death down on the unbelievers.

              • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.lea.3348 Rebecca Lea

                Greens aren’t exempt from being arrogant hypocrites. The party has turned from environment to mostly kissing up to Muslims.

              • Blacksheep

                Seriously?

            • mem

              Its what internet atheists are best at.

              Taylor is just a prejudice idiot, every group has them unfortunately dont lump all atheists with nasty people like this one.
              Taylor Smith> SO MUCH TEENAGE ANGST ARRGGGGHHHH LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE

              • Jim Fox

                I take it you’re a religibot? What is nasty about his opinions? I find nothing offensive…

            • Kelley

              Bill… you just exemplified the word “prejudice” by  implying that every “Atheist Democrat”  appears to be a “tool” based on the comments of one person.  It makes me wonder…does your penchant for prejudging groups based on the actions of only some of that group’s members extend to Muslims?  Jews? Blacks? American Indians? Blondes?  I believe we should all rise above it.  Prejudice has never benefited any one person nor group.

            • UnderINK

              Don’t lump the rest of us in there. I think anyone that believes something personal and keeps it personal is free to believe what they want. We should punish actions against other humans that are harmful as exactly that. There are religious people capable of living in peace. They should be left alone.

            • Ike

              Atheist libertarian paramedic swinger in the Bible Belt. Y’all ain’t got nothin on me!

          • master

            wow you must have been raped by a priest. you are just as silly as they are

            • Taylor Smith

              Thanks for your ‘intellectually nourishing’ input dude.

              Perhaps you explore your relationship with priests on a less public forum though. Because last I checked; child molestation didn’t come into this conversation until you did.

              Coincidence? I’d hope so.
              But yeah, you should talk to a professional about that one, not the internet ;)

            • Doug

              Yeah, that must be it… He couldn’t possibly just be expressing a rational opinion.

              • Lloyd Mongo

                I’m an liberal and an atheist. As such I value reason above all things. It’s dishonest to claim his conclusions based on a respectful one-sentence response are rational. He’s not expressing a rational opinion. He’s expressing that he’s a smug, insufferable, douchebag bigot. Taylor Smith – your post amounts essentially to hate speech. You are most definitely not doing atheists any favors with your bullshit. Kindly let the grown-ups do the talking.

                • mike

                  “I’m an liberal and an atheist.”

                  Good for you.

                  “He’s not expressing a rational opinion. He’s expressing that he’s a smug, insufferable, douchebag bigot.”

                  “Bigot” — you use that word. It does not mean what you think it means.Ridiculous ideas warrant ridicule.”Taylor Smith – your post amounts essentially to hate speech.”

                  What? Because he points out actual Christian dogma and what he dislikes, it’s hate speech? I suppose I shouldn’t discuss how much I dislike Nazism lest I offend Nazis.

                  “You are most definitely not doing atheists any favors with your bullshit.”

                  You don’t speak for all Atheists. Must be cold up there, given how tall your horse is.

                  “Kindly let the grown-ups do the talking.”People should really read their own statements as though they were aimed at themselves.

                • Taylor Smith

                  Good for you being an atheist in America! :)

                  Sorry to do ‘the atheist team’ a disfavor; but thinking I represent atheism (and not anarchism or some bizz) is missing the point of atheism I think.

                • Jim Fox

                  I value reason above all things

                  What, even religion. Or crystal healing. Not above crude ad hominems, though.

            • Jim Fox

              What a masterful piece of rhetoric; you have me in complete awe of your intellect.

          • B.A.

            Um. What? I went to Catholic school, where we were taught about evolution as a fact. I believe in science. In fact, I agree with many viewpoints held by liberals.

            While I identify as Republican and Catholic, I’m not blindly accepting what I’m told to believe all the time.

            I said I was Republican, not that I necessarily support Romney. And I think for a lot of Republicans this election, it’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. (Yes, surprise! Many of us are far from thrilled with him.) I still haven’t decided who that is for me.

            As for your last paragraph, how do you judge me as desperate and insane? My response was one sentence, meant to be reassuring and to make others aware that not all religious people are crazy fundies, and that not all Republicans are judgmental and intolerant. But rather than seeing that, you would rather tear me down simply because there might be a few issues we don’t see eye-to-eye on. You’re the one who sounds ignorant here.

            • Taylor Smith

               I went to a Catholic school; Ignatius Park College.

              Why does which schools we went to have relevance?

              I don’t think you realised the subtitles of my language; maybe it’s because I speak English and you speak American, I’m not sure.

              To quote me: ” Sorry but no, you didn’t make Republican’s seem sane.
              You just made them -seem- like they are desperate to be seen as not insane. ”

              Now “Give the impression or sensation of being something or having a particular quality” is the definition of -seem-. So :) It was just the impression I got.

              I chose to ‘tear you down’ because it’s 2012 (surprise!). Religion is the precursor to science. We have science now, it’s kinda… backwards to keep religion around. Look how great Islam’s doing right now; if only they believed in science…

              Jesus Christ was a cool dude; love thy neighbor! But he was around before The Church. What came after the Church? Hitler? :

              You should have the right to believe whatever you want to believe. I just wish you were smart and open enough to accept that science makes the world beautiful and worth it. And it makes us critical, which is pretty much the opposite of ignorant.

              So please tell me how I’ve been ignorant (as to emit the supposed ‘ignorant sound’) and how I can ‘sound’ less ignorant :)

              • DCC

                Its not that you’re ignorant or completely wrong, you’re just being extremely abrasive. 

                • Meraxes75

                   In other words, a typical supporter of the Australian Greens.  You forgot “massive superiority complex” as well.

                • mike

                  So pandering is better? Ridiculous ideas warrant ridicule.

                • Taylor Smith

                   Welcome to…

                  The internet! where cowards can pretend to be anyone!
                  But fair call I am being quite the loud mouth up and down this comments section.
                  For science?

                • Y2khoop

                  look at you, douchebag. now your just arguing to support what little self esteem you have left

              • The Other Weirdo

                If you think you’re speaking English, I’ve got news for you, buddy. It isn’t English, at least not in the way you think it is. I love it when foreigners judge Americans on their political choices as though they have some great insight that nobody else possesses. I get all tingly in the morning.

                • Taylor Smith

                   O
                  kayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

              • vbscript2

                “I don’t think you realised the subtitles of my language; maybe it’s because I speak English and you speak American, I’m not sure.”

                Wow, must be. In “American,” subtitles are the secondary titles of publications or the display of dialogue as text at the bottom of the screen on a TV program or movie. I think, perhaps, “subtleties” is the word you were looking for.

                • Taylor Smith

                   Congratulations for being able to think for yourself!

                  That was the word I was looking for!
                  I could edit my message and delete proof of this (horrific) mistake; but that would ruin your moment in the sun.

                  The moment you corrected someone’s error and therefore established yourself as a worthwhile contributor to a conversation.

                  Thank you!
                  Again, congratulations on your contribution.

              • B.A.

                It’s like you didn’t read a thing I said. My point was my school taught about evolution as a fact. I take it as fact. I believe 100% in science, and surprise, that includes global warming!
                And I don’t know who you think you are, but don’t try to tell me what I believe. Just because I identify a certain way does NOT mean I agree with every issue that goes along with it. As DCC said, you’re “just going out of [your] way in search of conflict. [You're] taking the same Christian fundamentalist attitude and applying it to [your] own atheistic beliefs.” He’s entirely right.As for me, I’m NOT going to preach to you, or to anyone else, for that matter. Why? Because I can 100% understand why one can look out at the world and deny the existence of God. There is no proof, the Bible was written by humans, etc. There are countless reasons! I get that; I just happen to have faith, anyway. If it shocks you that I believe God and science go hand-in-hand, then you are simply a moron.And here, we have an example of a Christian being tolerant and understanding, and an atheist being unwilling to understand. But the brilliant thing is that I CAN think for myself, and what I’ve come up with is that you are not a representation of atheists as a whole; you are just a douche bag all on your own. I don’t hold any contempt for atheists, but I certainly don’t like you.With that being said, you’re getting too stupid to argue with, so I’m doing to stop here.

                • B.A.

                  And wow, not sure how my formatting got so screwed up. I swear there were paragraphs in there! Sorry about that.

              • Dweezil

                You sound extremely ignorant when you use the term belief in conjunction with science.  Scientific fact doesn’t change with respect to belief.  We can say science is “agnostic” with regard to belief.

                It would be more proper to say something like “despite physical testable evidence, hardline religious people reject scientific fact.”

                Also, your tone toward Americans is rather rude.  Don’t forget who has some of the best scientific minds in the world.  WE have Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, and some of the best universities in the world.  R&D happens here.  We have the world’s best laboratories.  We have the finest tech. companies.  No one comes close to us.  While elitist Euros, Brits, Aussies and others dismiss us as hicks they shamefully dismiss our tremendous contributions to science.

              • Starlite

                “Look how great Islam’s doing right now; if only they believed in science…”

                …….  some would just make better bombs  ;)

              • Pit

                Quote: ” Religion is the precursor to science. We have science now, it’s kinda… backwards to keep religion around”

                Because science is perfect and everything they say is undeniably the truth? Without science we would not have the ability to annihilate the world 10 times over. Awesome. So lets make scientists our new “gods”. They can create life as well, oh wait not yet but what the hell, who cares lets worship them anyway.

                Trying to change a world filled with religion into a “god free” zone is like trying to stop a tsunami with a bucket.

            • DCC

              I agree with you, Taylor Smith is just going out of his way in search of conflict. He’s taking the same Christian fundamentalist attitude and applying it to his own atheistic beliefs = He’s an asshole.

              • mike

                Atheism is as much a set of beliefs as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

              • B.A.

                This exactly. I think he’s trying to get me upset, but I’m too busy laughing at him.

            • http://www.facebook.com/swiftjuan John Bentley

              Sorry BA. There are somethings that you have to confront saying that you are a catholic, but dont blindly accept things. I went to Catholic school as well. The doctrine of infallibility requires a Catholic to accept certain nonsense ideas, as infallible truth, or not be a Catholic according to the dogma of the church. I am not saying you can’t be a Christian and reject nonsense (Although I found it impossible). In fact I am not saying you can’t be a Catholic. The church says it…

              • B.A.

                I get what you’re saying, but the church changes its mind about little things all the time; going along with what it tells me to believe is silly. I’d rather think for myself.

                And yeah, it’s true that I can’t 100% call myself a Catholic, but at this point, it’s mostly what I’m used to. It’s actually becoming easier lately for me to be able to pull away from that title. Still a believer, but honestly not sure if I could fit into a certain religious group at this point.

                Who knows? I’m just lucky enough to work Sundays so that I can avoid going to church with my family.

                • Jim Fox

                  I’m just lucky enough to work Sundays so that I can avoid going to church with my family.

                  Bloody excellent! I’d like to buy you a beer.

          • http://twitter.com/fakemarcadler Marc Adler

            You’re as much of a science-denier as he is. I’m willing to put money on it. 

            Also, how smart is it to attack someone from across the aisle who’s agreeing with you? 

            • Taylor Smith

              How much money?
              And what are your bank account details Marc? :P

              Well to answer your question; it is not very smart at all to attack someone from across the aisle who is agreeing with you.

              That was a very… interesting question though, thanks :)

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1114350096 Martavis Deon Parker

                To comment on your previous statements, science has not proven everything so no human can truly explain how life came about. The Big Bang is not an excuse because there had to be something to start it, correct? With that, we only have our beliefs. You believe what you believe and I the same.

                • http://www.facebook.com/swiftjuan John Bentley

                  People that make that argument about the big bang usually don’t understand the argument. The default position for investigation should be “I don’t know so let’s find out”, not “God did it, now let’s prove it”. What evidence do we have of God in the universe? If you put aside religious texts, where do you begin? To say that “I don’t understand X, so God did it” has proven foolish with everything from evolution to Rainbows. So tell me again… Where do rainbows come from?

          • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.lea.3348 Rebecca Lea

             Dude, he was in agreement with people. You’re just looking overzealous. Also using plurals with apostrophes? *facepalm*

          • Blacksheep

            You are rude, and don’t seem like a nice person at all.

          • Daniel

            As a Dem myself, let me just say how foolish you make yourself and the rest of us look to pretend you know anybody’s beliefs by affiliation alone.  I know plenty of Christian Republicans who fully believe in science, just as plenty of science following liberal Dems that spend every sunday in church.  

            How ignorant for you to lump and stereotype someone and then act as though you possess any kind of superior intelligence.  Seriously.  What a giant load of b.s.  Somebody has some growing up to do.  If not literally, at least in mind.

          • J. K. King

             B.A.  doesn’t believe in science?  Where did he/she mention science?

            If it’s in reference to denying global warming, I agree, that’s denying science.

            However, neo-Darwinism is not science.

            And I would rather say that many people have invented their own reimagined being, rather than an imagined being.

            I agree that Republicans can be kooky, especially with this Mormonism. But without my Republican parents helping me out (I have a disability) only relying on Democrats I’d be up the creek.

            J.K. King   conservative Democrat from the website http://www.shockedbytruth.com

          • Dweezil

            Science DOES NOT require belief.  I am so sick of people saying “so-and-so does not believe in science.”  Scientific facts are the stylized results of rigorous testing, replication, and analysis of natural phenomena as perceived by the senses (senses can obviously be aided with equipment, etc.).  One does not *believe* in the theory of relativity, or evolution.  These phenomena exist as fact in accordance with currently understood evidence whether one believes them or not.  Science doesn’t require faith or belief and it does not react to religious dogma or disbelief.  It also does not react to or require atheist belief or support–scientific fact simply exists.

          • gunnyhiway

            Ah yes the famous “gospel of tolerance”… and if anybody thinks that God will tolerate this or any other kind of SIN, well actually there is ONE way and ONLY one way- Jesus Christ
            our LORD and SAVIOR. He is the ONLY way ANYONE will go to heaven. Read John 3:16, Eph.2:8,9; Romans 10:9,10.
            That’s why in the “end times” (which we are in right now for those of you scoring at home)- in the antichrist’s world government, ALL religions and faiths will be tolerated. The only ones that will be persecuted and hunted down and tortured and killed will be whoever teaches GOD’S TRUTH- that Jesus is the only Way to heaven!

      • Mem

        Every group has “nuts” blindly pushing their own agenda and using their groups message as a cover, we have Taylor Swift below demonstrating that atheists as a group are not excluded from this below.

        • http://www.facebook.com/paul.tunnicliffe Paul Tunnicliffe

          Calling Atheism ‘a group’ is missing the point somewhat

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12436314 Tyler Hopkins

            Atheists are a group, numbnuts. We don’t have a dogma or any leadership structure, but “group” is just categorization, it doesn’t require consent. We don’t reject theism because we hate authority and don’t want to be a part of something larger than the individual. That’s Anarchists.

            • http://www.facebook.com/LOONG.JOHN.X Adam Sakowicz

              Am I in your group or are you in mine?

      • vbscript2

        I’m a Christian and politically conservative and I don’t think I know anyone who would disagree with what Obama said here.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tastybrain Tim Ostrander

           Actually, the UN has been considering blasphemy laws recently as have other countries. There are many people around the world in positions of power that want to make it illegal to disrespect religious beliefs.

        • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

          Playing with the GSS, (variable SPKATH), in the US of late (post 2000) such attitudes are somewhat more common among those politically conservative by self-identification, older cohorts (especially pre-boomer), the strongly religious, those who consider the Bible as Inerrant (rather than Inspired or mere Fables), the less-educated, people from or living in the south, the less-intelligent, women, and non-Whites. Your personal circle of acquaintance seems unlikely to be a nationally representative sample across all these.

          US Muslims may also be particularly bad on this, though due to the fractionally tiny sample it’s not clear how much worse they are than Catholics or Protestants.

      • Okcola

        Obama made that comment at this time because he is and has been in campaign mode since he first opened his mouth after his election win in 2008.
        The first thing that came out of his mouth was, “We can’t change everything that needs to be done in four years, but we can make a great start.

        Now after he is re-elected , “God forbid”, you will see him make an abrupt about-face and those comments will never be mentioned again, and he will go back to his primary agenda of destroying America, and Americans. Just watch and see.
        You may be able teach even a dumb dog a few new tricks, but he will always be a dumb dog, that will never hesitate to bite the hands of those who feed him.

        • Kaydenpat

          Obama is not a dumb dog.  You are.

        • Octoberfurst

           “Obama will go back to his primary agenda of destroying America and Americans.”  Watch Fox News much? How serious was the brain damage you recieved as a child?

    • Vision_From_Afar

       Already been done:

      Obama Declares the Future Must Not Belong to Practicing Christians

      A disgusting bit of rhetoric, that.

      • Eric M Boucher

        wow wow wow, my head asplode reading that.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Implying that speaking out against a hateful video means you can’t also think it doesn’t justify violence?  How do those two things even connect.  And then stating the fact that there was violence in response  is somehow endorsing a violent response?  Shakes head.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1054865351 Brad Thacker

         Words escape me from reading that article and it’s comments.

        Further faith in humanity lost…

        • cruelclick

          I have faith in humanity. People suck.

      • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

        I simply cannot read websits like that one anymore. Not good for my health.
        We will never be able to compromise with this people. 

        These people love our founding fathers, yet when a sitting president makes a speech that would not be out of place had any of them made it, they pick it apart and distort it as if it was itself blasphemous .

        Sometimes I really believe the only solution would be to split the country in two and give them their own half. This is not just a difference in opinions, they are mentally ill.

        • pdcgimpy

          These people do not love our founding fathers.  If they did, they would not have hijacked their motto and replaced it with “in god we trust”.  Our countries original motto is “E Pluribus Unum” meaning One from many.

        • Nunya_business

          So basically you’re happy that Obama stands up for free speech but then you turn right around and bash those that exercise it.  I don’t understand.  Are you for free speech only when the people that are speaking agree with you?

          • Avalidemail

            If you think that freedom of speech means that I have to agree with what someone is saying then you’re an idiot. If you think that disagreeing with someone means suppressing them, then you are an idiot who probably votes for republicans

            • Avalidemail

              Just in case you thought I was agreeing with you, nunya, I was not. Bashing someone is entirely different then disallowing someone free speech

          • Mike

            No one.  NO ONE said that he was against their right to spew stupidity.  Your fallacious reasoning, this straw man bullshit, is a problem that you should seriously think about.

        • http://twitter.com/monkeyofstick slice
        • http://twitter.com/fakemarcadler Marc Adler

          They’re not mentally ill. Are people really so narrow-minded that they think someone has to be mentally ill to disagree with them? That’s nuts. 

          As for splitting the country, I totally agree, but let’s split it into as many groups as people want to form, instead of just two. Live and let live. 

      • Octoberfurst

         Wow!  It sure didn’t take them long did it?  My head hurt from reading that article. Talk about twisting words around!  Those people are pathetic morons.

      • Nothome

         What a twist. I guess there’s 3 sides to every story.

      • GuilleWrites

        Oh, wow… I think I just lost IQ reading that. What the hell?

        I think the only valid conclusion we can take from such is:
        Some are simply idiots.

        • ArtDuck

          The quote from Borderlands 2, of all sources, comes to mind: “I feel my brain cells committing suicide one by one when he speaks.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Lieberman/16302352 Michael Lieberman

        Wow, I thought I was reading satire for a second. I mean because Obama said the image of Christ and didn’t list out every possible thing that could be blasphemed in the Christian faith that he’s attacking the Christian faith.

        Using his logic anyone could make a claim off of anything he doesn’t explicit state in his article.

        I would write more but I think it would end with me banging my head against the table.

      • Just a dude.

         The irony is that “President Obama Declares The Future Must Not Belong to Practicing Christians” is 100% correct and exactly the way I want it.  There’s no denial here: the future MUST NOT belong just to Christians.

    • Vulcan FX

      Those that hate president Obama will twist everything around anyway. Based on what he said they might call him the devil himself. If he would support those blasphemy laws then they would say “Aha, so he is muslim!” .You can’t win with them, but at least he stood for what is right and that is right to free speech. Thank you!

  • Tainda

    Sometimes I love that man.  Sometimes he REALLY frustrates me.

    This is a love time.

    • Joe_the_Troll

      That’s how you know he’s trying to govern for everyone, not just his base. I feel the same way.

    • Wllmcnn

      Compromise should always feel like both entities involved are getting a swift kick in the gut.  Meaning, some sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve a greater goal.  To that effect, Obama has been a fantastic moderator for the American people.

      • Cameron

         Gold^^

      • Mike

        “A good compromise is when both parties are left dissatisfied” -Churchill?

  • The Other Weirdo

    I can just imagine Putin thinking: “Da faque did that man just say? What the hell does he mean, you accept that people are going to say awful things about you. That’s not free speech, that’s a reason to shoot them in the street.”

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m so glad to hear him say this. I would make special note of the fact that he talks about the capacity of each American to practice his or her own faith. This is an important point. Not only do blasphemy rules encroach on free speech, but also on the right to religious expression. Blasphemy laws can easily be used against those who practice the “wrong” religion. Even if you write the laws to supposedly protect all religions, what effect do they have on the religion that holds as a point of doctrine that other religions are false and wrong? Are the preachers of that religion guilty of blasphemy? I am proud that my President has taken a firm stand in support of the First Amendment and against blasphemy laws.

  • Jenny

    Of course, we all choose to ignore that Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth…again…because he also said this in the same speech:

    “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims. ”

    Yeah, I get that saying & doing mean things wrt other people’s beliefs, artifacts & experiences is not OK, but this statement effectively gives the greenlight to all religious folks the world over (including our own homegrown right-wing crazies) to go nuclear every time they think their favorite imaginary friend is unduly suffering the slings & arrows of satire or honest debate. That doesn’t really sound like freedom of expression to me.

    Since many on this blog maintain their right to criticize/discuss religion & its validity as one would for any other topic, it’s kind of surprising that Obama’s speech is being colored as a celebration of free speech when it’s actually not, taken in total. 

    • Tainda

      They have every right to be offended when someone desecrates something they love.  Once killings are done in response to said offense, that’s when it’s not ok and that’s what Obama is saying.  I don’t think he gave a greenlight for batshit crazy reaction at all.

    • Jay

      Actually that reads to me as a “take that” to the Islamic apologists. He’s saying that the people who rush to attack Bacile are being selective and should attack anyone who insults any religion in order to be consistent. 

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      He said “condemn”.  He didn’t say “ban the video” or “shut them up” or “arrest them”.  He said “condemn” as in “We disagree with what they say, and think what they said is horrible.  They still have the right to say it, though.”

      After all the faith-based nonsense, this is very refreshing.  Thank you, Obama. 

      • Randy

        So it’s OK for the president (i.e. the executive branch) not just to disagree, but to actually condemn speech? 

        condemn:
        2. To pronounce judgment against; sentence3. To judge or declare to be unfit for use or consumption, usually by official order
        4. To lend credence to or provide evidence for an adverse judgment against

        Why use such a vague word, when speaking to foreign audiences?  Could it be so that everyone gets to hear what they want to hear?

        • Kaydenpat

          Of course it’s okay for the President to condemn hateful speech.  He’s not saying hate speech should be banned, just condemned.  And his speech was clear that violence against hateful speech is not proper.

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

       how does a statement saying we should condemn hate when X happens give a green light for people to go nuclear when X happens? It’s saying the exact opposite.

    • http://www.facebook.com/SamEllens Sam Ellens

      His point is rather obvious if you have any knowledge of global events.  Many of the states which have rioted so angrily frequently create content which slanders those of other faiths, and he’s telling them that they’re hypocrites to freak out over this video while they’re also creating offensive content pointed at other religions.

    • apathy really though

      Do you know what condemn and condone mean?  Obama said that people need to have the freedom to express their beliefs but that doesn’t mean he will agree.  Plain and simple.  

      “gives the greenlight to all religious folks the world over (including
      our own homegrown right-wing crazies) to go nuclear every time they
      think their favorite imaginary friend is unduly suffering the slings
      & arrows of satire or honest debate.”

      That’s what you got?  You are unfairly projecting yourself upon “all religious folks the world over.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/MichaelSundberg Michael Sundberg

       I don’t think you understood what he meant…

  • ZenDruid

    The Constitution allows everyone to stand up against any authoritarian hogwash.

    President Obama was a professor of Constitutional law, of course he should say that.

  • Wltdc

    Exactly. The devout sometimes neglect to critically examine the consequences if such laws. For example a xtian tellng me that i will go to hell could be charged with hate speech.

  • http://profiles.google.com/hooverjd John Hoover
    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      Unfortunately, we have a first-passed-the-post voting system in addition to our broken electoral college. This means that strategic voting while heeding the “spoiler effect” is the only true option.

      Without a voting system which does not suffer from the spoiler effect, like instant-runoff-voting, voting for a third party will actually only hurt the chances of the candidate most like the third party.

      Strategically speaking, if you dislike Romney the most of all the available candidates, then voting for Obama is your best bet. If Obama is your least favorite, then you should vote for Romney as the same logic applies.

      • Rotll

        conversely, Gary Johnson should be wooing Obama supporters in hard Red states (Mississippi, Alabama, etc) and Romney in hard Blue states (NY, MA, etc.) since their votes for their favs won’t matter much in the end…that could get his vote totals up to the 15% mark that he needs for the future.

        • amycas

           Except he won’t get my vote. I’ve looked at the other candidates, and the one who I align most with is Jill Stein, so if I decide to vote third party, then I’ll vote for her.

  • DR. IZERECKT

    IF ONLY EVERYONE WOULD JUMP OUTTA’ THE CLOSET SIMULTANEOUSLY….

  • http://twitter.com/OccupyForever Pete B

    What about freedom and self-determination within the US? It’s fine if American protesters get the Mubarak treatment, just not foreign ones.

  • Fwkrueger

    This is more BS from the master. When he made the speech about race he almost had me. If he was so concerned about free speech why is this speech the only one to mention free speech since the violence broke out? In addition, what about using the FCC to require radio stations to broadcast both conservative and liberal points of view? It amazes me that anyone buys the BS he puts out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/SamEllens Sam Ellens

      “why is this speech the only one to mention free speech since the violence broke out?”

      It isn’t.  Your ignorance isn’t a good argument.

      “what about using the FCC to require radio stations to broadcast both conservative and liberal points of view” 
      Is this something he’s proposed?  That is perhaps the most anti-free speech suggestion I’ve ever heard.

      • http://twitter.com/KevinSagui Kevin Sagui

        It sounds like he’s referring to the Fairness Doctrine.  It’s something Harry Reid and some of the Senate Democrats dusted off shortly after the ’08 elections, but they got slapped down pretty quickly and as far as I know Obama had nothing to do with that nonsense.

        • amycas

           Ah, gone are the days of the Fairness Doctrine. Right wing radio exploded after they got rid of that…

        • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

          Looking at Wikipedia: the Fairness Doctrine was killed in 1987; there have been several attempts by some Democrats since ~2005 to dust it off, with no success and limited support even within their own party; and the 2008 Obama campaign came out against reviving the doctrine.

          In short, Fwkrueger seems either willfully ignorant or delusional.

  • Drewmherman

    ” I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so” – He really does like to make everything about him, doesn’t he?

    • http://www.facebook.com/SamEllens Sam Ellens

      By relating it to himself personally he’s hoping to make the Arab World realize that it’s not just speech against them he isn’t capable of stopping – he’s also incapable of stopping people from saying nasty things about himself.  It’s hard to imagine a more persuasive way to put that message across. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/roman.zaytsev.3 Roman Zaytsev

      More like putting a personal, familiar tone on a largely political issue. Read between the lines man.

    • cruelclick

      well clearly you want it to be about YOU, right?

  • Billygeneisnotmylover

    wikileaks?

  • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

    That he states explicitly that the state allows dissent is awesome.

  • Dps395

    Wow you might as well send me to mars to chill with the rover if the world stsrts waging wars ovet this bull….

  • Dps395

    Sorry for typos. Mobile errors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Johnson/1353890372 Michael Johnson

    B-BUT OBAMA IS A MUSLIM!!

  • http://twitter.com/monkeyofstick slice

    I simply see lots of religious judgement and hatred out there right now.
    It just scares me.
    I think that most of the folks that these folks prayed to would want anything to do with them. 

  • Kilavibez

    And yet the majority of US states do not allow gays to get married and express their rights of love through gay marriage. Yes, the US really supports free speech and freedom dont they? Yet gays, lesbains and trans-gendered cannout express themselves freely.  Furthermore if you say anything critical about Israel, your an anti-semtic hate mongeror. But say anything against Islam and its free speech… 

  • Liangy2005

    Free speech cannot be without consequence.what happened to libel and defamation? When did free speech become the defence for hate speech?

    • amycas

       Libel, slander, and defamation are not hate speech. Learn your legal definitions.

    • NickDB

      Free speech does have it’s consequences, and using this movie as an example, the consequences could of been no one saw it, he got sued, got angry hate mail it etc it would of been fine, but when the consequence include people and property in other countries no way related to the movie get killed and burnt then there is a problem.

      I don’t think a single person would of complained if people just went on a protest march about the movie.

      I can go on a completely homophobic or racist rant and I’m allowed to, your are also completely allowed to call me a F(*&ing arsehole, boycott my business, tell your friends and family to boycott my business etc,  for doing so. You’re not allowed to shoot me because of it.

  • Michael

    “We do not ban blasphemy”

    Right. We are just okay with detaining it indefinitely without due process.

    • Gary Taylor

      you, are part of the stupid.. 

  • Randy

    I found Bill Donohue’s response to this speech quite entertaining, and for the first time I actually (shudder) agree with Bill.  And he might even be a decent contemporary artist.  It’s on YouTube somewhere.

    As for Obama, like Romney or the Bible, he took every position.  Depending on what quote you choose, he either strongly supported free speech, or strongly opposed blasphemy.  One can’t credibly do both, but he did.

    It was most disturbing to hear him call Muslims the most attacked group in the world, or words to that effect.  Even if true (which I doubt) this speech, in response to Muslim attacks on Western governments and business, was not the place for it.

    • Kaydenpat

      So putting the head of Obama in a jar of poop is something you find “quite entertaining”.  And where exactly did President Obama call Muslims the most attacked group in the world?

      You Rightwing folks are such liars. It’s amazing.

      And you can condemn hate speech while supporting freedom of speech.  They are not mutually exclusive.

  • Masquerader420

    The second sentence in your article is an incomplete sentence AND a run-on. Jesus Christ, Mr. Atheist, take a grammar course.

  • Alexandra

    I don’t really get the love here.  He condemned blasphemy.  He said it was a bad thing.  I kind of love blasphemy almost as much as my right to blaspheme.  I’m unimpressed by his speech.

    • amycas

       He’s religious, so I wouldn’t expect him to love blasphemy. Of course, he can not like blasphemy and still support our right to blaspheme, which was pretty much his whole point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yannisnikolouzos Yannis Nikolouzos

     Now compare this viewpoint to the viewpoint of the Cradle of Democracy, Greece.

    Where they arrested a 27 year old man for Blasphemy last Friday. His crime: creating and maintaining a Facebook page satirizing a dead monk that many para-religious circles are trying to pass as a saint.

    Sometimes I am ashamed for my country so much that it hurts.

  • http://twitter.com/IndiePundit IndiePundit

    Well played. Blasphemy assumes the other person believes in the same thing you believe or that they have to. To ban blasphemy is the same as to say that free speech has no consequences and everyone must be bound by someone else’s restrictions or beliefs. Not everyone is going to adhere to the same ideals especially if they are from different cultures. People on both sides have to learn tolerance and ignore things that really don’t affect them.

  • Skippy9925

    why should i be tolerant of the religion of islam when these people are unwilling to tolerate any opinions or views they don’t like, they are so intolerant of anyone else’s opinion that they want to kill them……really……let them eat their oil,send them all home we don’t need them 

    • Thegoodman

      What a positive, optimistic, mature world view you have there Skippy. I hope you enjoy the 4th grade next year.

  • http://twitter.com/jimmy_frich Jimothy Pimwell

    Actually the reason the right (religious or not) has not pounced on anything in Obama’s speech because it was comprised of something which Republicans love: a promise to keep American troops out there wherever needed. Looks like we’re going to Syria. But I was also pleasantly surprised by his affirmation of free speech. It was strongly worded, and clearly directed at nations which don’t heed such petty obstructions to the state’s desires.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradley.betts.10 Bradley Betts

    I should preface this by saying that I’m from England.

    “Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.”

    I am sooooooo jealous of your President. That was genuinely the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard a politician say.

  • Irishcitizen

    I would just like it to be noted written into the Irish Constitution, into our freedom of speech clause is an exception banning Blasphemy….

  • http://twitter.com/fakemarcadler Marc Adler

    This defense of free speech should’ve been the first thing we heard from Clinton and Obama after the riots, for a very simple reason: it’s the truth. Why raise expectations among the non-sane segment of the Muslim world by denouncing the video in the kind of language that extremists are used to hearing right before a ban?

    The WH’s handling of this whole situation has been abysmal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lew.mills.3 Lew Mills

    WOW!!! Civility, and Civil Discourse…What Concepts!!! Too Bad, No One Believes or follows them, Here, in this context!!! 

  • Buckgoose

    “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”  – Radical Fundementalist… nope, just kidding, Barrack Obama

  • Vernard Mercader

    // President Obama has disappointed nonbelievers and those
    who take seriously the concept of church-state separation many times.
    In his participation in the National Prayer Breakfast, in his
    continuation and expansion of the Bush-spawned “faith-based
    initiatives,” and his general pandering to religious figures, such has
    his inclusion of the risible Rick Warren at his inauguration. //

    Really? You ‘were’ disappointed of the president because of these? I see this as a political strategy.  Obama, since 2008, is not a Rick-Perry-Religious guy;  Hell, I still don’t think he’s religious. He’s very much secular and a political strategist that subscribes to the religion of the week.  Ignorant people will buy that.  Bleeding-hearts liberal atheists who see things in black and white will see him as a disappointment, but rational people will understand how he operates.

    • Thegoodman

       Please enlighten us all as to how the leader of the free world operates. You seem to have many answers, I beg you to grace us with your wisdom and insight.

      I love our president and I think he is a beacon amongst the political darkness that is Washington D.C. That being said, I have been disappointed at times in his pandering to the religious.

      • http://uncompromising-rhetoric.com Vernard Mercader

        Having been on public for quite some time now, including his Personal and political life, his history of speeches as a Senator (the “People don’t read their bibles!” comment on the ridiculousness of Deuteronomy laws), his Father, Obama, Sr. is an Atheist, an open Atheist, his mother, Agnostic, his comment about “[our family] we don’t have a particular church we go to”, he is familiar with Muslim greetings and he celebrates Jewish Holidays—it should be obvious that Obama is an Agnostic.

        Now, being the president of the United States, he has to be very careful with the religious Majority that resides in what we know as “United States”.  His “Pandering to the religious” you accuse him of, is definitely a political strategy, and he’s good at it.  He doesn’t say anything alienating to the Atheist and secularists, but he doesn’t discriminate the religious as well (regardless of what religion they follow).

        Patience.  It doesn’t require an all-knowing, Omniscient seer to “grace you with wisdom and insight” to what Obama is on Religion.

        But just because he mentioned “god” in a sentence, doesn’t mean Atheists should cry in agony, thinking “Oh, Obama is such a religious BIGOT!”

  • http://twitter.com/wildmanbill Bill White

    Obama seemed rather timid in his response to those who rioted over a YouTube video. He should have called them loonies, thugs, and idiots.

    He also took the time to emphasize America’s acceptance of other beliefs including Islam, but I note he never, ever takes the time to defend Christianity bashing in his own Administration or party.

    I believe the separation of Church and State as implied by the authors of our Constitution and the Founding Fathers was to keep the State out of the Church, not the other way around.

    • Kaydenpat

      What “Christianity bashing”?  Christians are always victims, huh?  Even though they make up the vast majority of the American populace.  Poor things.  I’ll weep for American Christians everyday.  Because they are so PERSECUTED!!!  Waaahh.

  • Tony Reed

    Glad to see people hear using their freedom of speech.

    Sad to see them using it for petty flame wars.

  • fatal

    I’m all for him saying this, and I completely agree, but he has been a firm supporter of “hate speech” regulation. This is the same type of thing as blasphemy laws. While I believe we should be allowed to talk shit about religion, I also believe people should have the same right in reverse. People should be able to say how they feel, even if you or I disagree. 

  • axzaxis

    <3 u POTUS

  • Montesblues

    free speech my ass, tell that to the occupy protestors getting beat and pepper sprayed everyday.

  • Iamtherealwilso

    The Australian Greens are as zealous as any religious nut. And most are only green on the outside. They’re deluded dreamers one day, and dangerous extremists the next.

  • http://www.facebook.com/troy.boyle Troy Boyle

    Hear, hear! The freedom to express opinions, even unpopular opinions and vulgar opinions is absolute.

  • AaronRoss

    It was impressive, and he is a Christian.  That is impressive also. 

  • Expat1031

    This was a great way to start my day.  I just hope Obama’s words won’t get lost in the inevitable twisted responses by the religious Right who will no doubt turn this speech into a pinata.  

  • Freebears

    I would like to know, how atheists look after their soul? If you don’t believe in a creator? Or don’t you hace/care for your soul?

    • Wren

      There is no such thing as a soul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773692362 Jansen Waddell

    God, this comment section’s turned into YouTube.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.kushner.750 Zajan Zajon

    there is a god, it may not be the biblical god but it exists. Something created all this, matter can not be created,it takes a diety to do so. All of you know god exists,deep down in your hearts, You are repressing these beliefs but us humans were born to be believe in god, deal with it

    732-636-2407

  • Litesp33d

    Great speech but what about ‘the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry’

    (yes totally agree) and blasphemy. 12:55.

    Was he supposed to add blasphemy?
    Surely the voices should rally AGAINST blasphemy because blasphemy laws stop free speech.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LOONG.JOHN.X Adam Sakowicz

    If only he would defend the second amendment like that.

  • John

    “Blasphemy” is just a fancy word meaning either to insult a deity or to insult religious practice. If the different deities are so all powerful and almighty, why would they need protection from being insulted? Aren’t they strong enough to just such baloney roll off their knives like water off a duck’s back? If I were an all powerful god, I wouldn’t give a damn what people thought of me. It would be a case of I can defend myself quite well from the words of mere fools.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AMilitantAgnostic TJ Bradders

    As it is clearly not an issue to God if some people blaspheme him (He seems to never step up and do anything to anyone calling Him names) I don’t see any reason for any of His followers to take on the chore of trying to defend God from people.

  • D.C. Tiedeman

    THIS IS WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. http://youtu.be/-SoXs-0_rHY

  • usalolchincaftw

    People are ignorant arguing left and right(You are probably living very comfortable to waste time doing this), you are buying into their bullshit by arguing about mundane details. 60% of presidents are from one family, Obama is a part of this family. You are not a part of this family, no matter who you vote for(take 2004 for example) this family will always win. Its time you people wake up stop voting, stop relying on tv for news, stop relying on religion for ideals, and just live your life without intentionally or unintentionally hurting people or forcing your ideas opon each other.

  • jimlouvier

    If he protects free speech so much, why are there still “free speech zones” where free speech is not allowed near the White House and anywhere many politicians are?

  • The Starship Maxima

    The President was spot on correct.


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