Jesuisprof is the hashtag on social media for expressing views on the barbaric decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty outside his school near Paris on Friday.
Why did this happen?
Because Abdullakh Anzorov, an eighteen year old Muslim from Chechen, took it into his head that his prophet had been offended and needed retribution. He was shot dead by the police.
Samuel Paty was accused of insulting Muhammed by showing cartoons of him to a class when he was delivering a lesson on free-speech, which is a compulsory part of French secondary schooling. Muslim pupils were invited to leave before this took place.
There are anti hate speech laws in France so, if I call you names, you have the right to take me to court. This is entirely proper – laws should protect us – living people can be insulted and can take offence. There is the possibility of distress caused by malicious action. It’s personal.
The non-living cannot take offence, and that includes dead or invented characters in religions who are no different from mere icons. Weirdly, such gods are claimed to be so powerful that they can create a universe, yet they can’t defend themselves…
Hate laws should not protect ideologies like religions because they are not people and cannot take offence. If I say, “Evolution is nonsense”, no feelings can be hurt. There is no person, so there can be no personal harm.
Criticising ideas is how humanity progresses. If Einstein hadn’t challenged Newton’s understanding of how the solar system works, we would not have satellite navigation in our cars today. If Samuel Wilberforce hadn’t challenged the Biblically approved practice of slavery, we might still be shipping people from Africa to be worked to death on the plantations of the colonies. Doctrines like Christianity or Islam are appropriate targets for ridicule.
I’m a retired teacher. We do encounter angry teenagers sometimes. I once disarmed a boy who was threatening a female colleague with a knife. I can relate to Friday’s horrific incident and I want to express my condolences to Samuel’s family.
It seems likely that Abdullakh Anzorov had been fed nonsense about martyrdom. Is he now enjoying the services of 72 virgins as the wine flows in Paradise?
I doubt it…
Isn’t Abdullakh just as much a victim of religion as Samuel?