Proud and happy to blaspheme.

Catholicism is the official religion of the Malta, and they take it pretty seriously there.

Maltese law prohibits vilification of or giving offense to the Roman Catholic Church, which is also Malta’s official religion.

In Malta, it is a criminal offense to utter publicly any obscene or indecent words, make obscene acts or gestures or in any other way offend public morality, propriety or decency.

“From January to September [2012] there were 99 convictions for public blasphemy, compared with the 119 convictions from January to July 2011,” the report said.

Ok, first, for an organization that burned scholars at the stake and recently protected a posse of child rapists while ignoring their victims, it takes a lot of brass (or, in this case, a lack of shame) to insist that you are the guardians of morality, propriety, and decency.

Second, even in the United States I recently got a first hand look at how Catholics can have the standards of decency twisted.  In the morality debate on Sunday (in which Matt Dillahunty took a veritable wrecking ball to the opposition), I was refuting Mark Miravelli’s assertion that god is looking out for us when I said:

“If our morality comes from god, we’d expect to see some enforcement of justice beyond what human beings do.  I mean, why make laws if you’re not going to enforce them?  Who but the most foolish lawmaker would expect speed limits to work without some sort of penalty in place for speeding?

But this is not what we see.  When justice is administered in this world it is always meted out by the hands of people who would catch every criminal if only we had omnipotence.  This is precisely what we’d expect to see if humans were the ones creating and enforcing moral rules, but it’s utterly bizarre if a god who values justice is anywhere at play.  I mean, if you think we’ve caught every priest who has ever forced himself on a child, your optimism has extended well into delusion, and you’d think that if god had any place to intervene, this would be it.”

The Catholics in the audience boo’d, as if I was somehow wrong for bringing up the fact that priests who have pledged virginity don’t have a nasty habit of raping children (with the implication that the Catholic Church was, and probably still is, also remiss for hiding that fact).

I mean, who jeers at the condemnation of child rapists?  Oh yeah – people who value the RCC’s PR more than they despise the rape of children.

Sadly, the point was made during my closing statements, which means I didn’t have another go at the podium (again, thankfully, Matt Dillahunty clobbered them).  But I wanted another round so I could address the audience to say “To all of you who boo’d at the mention of child rape, as if bringing up the Church’s crimes was a greater offense than covering them up, you are what is wrong with the world.”

Indeed, protection for this kind of backwards morality is what gave birth to concepts like blasphemy.

I was also on a multi-faith panel at Reasonfest.  I took the chance during my opening to explain why I thought compassion and reason were the basis for morality, and then to explain why this prohibited me from quietly tolerating various religions by explaining a facet of all the religions represented on the panel was in conflict with those ideals.  For Islam, I straight came out and said Muhammad was a pedophile for marrying Aisha at six years old and then having sex with her at nine years old.  I also said that to admire such a man, as if he was a better person than virtually any person on the planet today, represented an incalculable amount of moral confusion.  If Muhammad wasn’t a pedophile, then that word has become meaningless.

During his opening, the Muslim representative responded by asking “Does everybody think it’s wrong to hurt a child?”  Everybody but Matt Dillahunty raised their hand (Matt knew where he was going with it).  The Muslim then pointed out that we must think all doctors are evil, because they must often give children shots.  But we don’t mind because the trade off in well-being is very much on the well-being side of the scale.

I was really shorted time during the panel, so I didn’t have the chance to say “Ok, you’re right.  What was the tradeoff for the nine year-old girl forced to have sex with a grown a man?”  It might be for the best, since I’m not sure I could’ve kept myself from adding “…you sick, twisted fuck.”

Ironically, later in the panel the same Muslim accused atheists of having subjective moral standards, in which case (and I’m not joking or exaggerating) “you might as well have sex with children.”  It was everything I could do not to scream “You defended that in your opening!”

“…you sick, twisted fuck.”

I was going to call him on it, but I got cut off by the Jewish representative and then was not permitted to finish during one of my turns.  The whole panel was frustrating, but the point is that people like the ones discussed in this post should never be able to rely on threats and “propriety” under the euphemism of “blasphemy” to keep their moral confusion nice and safe.  When the option is between failing to draw attention to immorality and blaspheming, it seems only fear or religion (or both, usually) would move us away from the latter.  In that sense, a blasphemer is a very good thing to be, and I am proud and happy to blaspheme.

In fact, when evil is being enacted out of religious motivation in your presence and your options are to announce your opposition or to lend tacit endorsement, blasphemy is the only moral choice of the two.  So for all you would-be blasphemers in Malta, Bangladesh, or in any of the many cultures across the globe so obsessed with their cherished myths that they’ll inhibit actual people, I will blaspheme plenty in your place – with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  And I’ll start by saying that anybody who would implement a standard against blasphemy is a coward, the lowest of the low, and deserves nothing but the most profound disrespect.

Looking at you Islam and Catholicism.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.