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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The right of blasphemy

Today controversial right wing Dutch politician G. Wilders is being charged for hate speech for making a (bad, simplistic and useless) film that compares Islam with Nazism, or something of the like.

While I think Wilders is a total jerk I also think that persecuting freedom of speech to protect any stupid religion is an act of state terrorism, an act against human rights. Talking about "hate speech" to silence freedom of speech is again a dangerous slippery fall towards totalitarism, restricting freedom in favor of "political correctness" is the way to fascism.

Because freedom is not about politeness (even if it may help) , it's about speaking your mind freely even if you have the most absurd and psychotic of thoughts. When a society can tolerate the exposition of plastified corpses and sadomasochistic literature and cinema but cannot accept a piece of art just because some sector of society considers it blasphemous and responds in some cases with death threats, there is something very wrong in that society.

And I'll tell you what it is: a too high contempt for religion, be it chrsitian, muslim or whatever. Religion is nothing but superstition and brainwashing ideology and deserves no further respect than any other human opinion. Is it blasphemous to depict Muhammed, Moses or Jesus masturbating or in whatever other unidealized pose? So be it. Get used to it, your icons do not belong to you: anybody can do with them whatever they want.

You don't like it? Well, go to some extremist stinky hole like Saudia or the Vatican, where you can be praying 24/7 until you die from starvation, hopefully.

Is this hate speech? Nah. I wish I could really hate anyone. It's more like compassion speech and punk therapy by direct exposition to truth. If you're brainwashed, keep it to you, and respect people who say you are a nuthead the same they have to put up with you. But don't go hysterical and start making death threats because then the logical thing to do is either to preventively kill you or, more benevolently, to put you in a mental asylum.

The problem is that people who just came from, say, Pakistan, seem to have missed all the Punkster phenomenon. What were they doing when here everything supposedly above criticism was being teared up? Praying? Don't make me laugh.

The problem is that culturally Islam is the most backward society on Earth because one cannot spit on the Quran and get alive with it. That is a problem that those societies must adress and the only real way to go is old good Maoism. Of all historically Muslim countries in the world only one has become agnostic and tolerant: Albania. Not an easy task but if Punk cannot work, maybe the spirit of Enver Hoxa, so to say, has the answer.

And not just for Islam. I've heard that in the USA, most people still are Christians, can you believe that?! Worse: many are against scientific knowledge because it conflicts with the Jewish mythology. If you watched the oath ceremony of Obama (I did just briefly) you can't but help notice how it's all full or religious elements that would rather belong to teh 15th century.

But again it's not just the USA nor the Muslim World. Here in Europe, many countries still foot the bill of the one offcial church with poublic money. This happens in Sweden and Spain, Russia and Britain. Totally obsolete medievalist absurd remnants like the Vatican or Mt. Athos (where women are not allowed to enter, outragingly enough) are allowed to persist, in spite of being products of fascism.

These medieval remnants are given overall special privileges. Not just discussing god appears to be impossible without someone reciting his/her "holy" book of choice but this credulous behaviour is favored institutionally. Maybe the situation is worse in Egypt, Saudia or Iran. But in the West either we cannot be satisfied with the legal situation of religion and anti-religious criticism. Unlike the Soviet constitution that did grant, at least on paper, both freedom of religion and freedom to criticise religion, western constitutions hardly ever mention the latter.

And I wonder, why should I respect religious people if anti-religious beliefs and behaviour is not tolerated?

Wilders is a jerk, sure. His emphasis on "Judeo-Christian" culture only demonstrates it. But he has the right to insult Islam or whatever other religion. And if you don't like it, ask your god to throw thunder on him... and wait patiently for that to happen.

Too many people, from Rushdie to van Gogh have suffered persecution for being critical of Islam, the same that others, suffered in their struggle agains Christian totalitarism. Religion is just like any other ideology and is totally subject to criticism. Get used, grow up.


Anonymous said...

Wilders is not accused for blasphemy. He is for agitation. To the judge to judge now.
By the way, blasphemy is going out of Dutch law because nobody used this article.

Maju said...

He's accused of "hate speech", what is just a way of hindering free speech, IMO.

I don't like Wilders at all but he should be ignored, not promoted by attempting to restrict his freedom of speech.

And anyhow, any restriction of freedom of speech will eventually damage others as well and may even favor the ones like Wilders.

Freedom of speech is well above anything else.

Anonymous said...

That's just where the judge is going to look at. Wilders really has put groups against eachother here, contraproductive polarisation is a weak expression for that. Saying he is doing the contrary. With him, it doesn't help trying to ignore him. Showing up in the media etc. when it fits him, thereafter as if he were Mr. Innocence himself. It isn't just that Fitna-thing. He is doing a lot more like that here. Don't forget that we Dutch taxpayers, bear the costs of his protection. Freedom of speech OK! But why to each price on MY bill [too], REGARDLESS OF HIS OWN BEHAVIOR? So i'm not unhappy with a judge looking at IF he has gone too far - or not - with his generalizing, respectless utterances, setting people by the ears.

Maju said...

I don't think the issue of the bodyguards has anything to do with the trial. They are different things: I would not say a word if the state refuse to protect him exceptionally and anyhow I'm so used to nearly every big mouth with fascist tendencies asking for protection here, also paid with public money, that it doesn't bother me the least.

What I see here is that, in order to protect some hypersensible beliefs and attitudes by people who is way too used to have their superstitions overprotected by the state or fanatic death squads, the state is taking the same side as those who make death threats, the same who murdered van Gogh. Whatever reason these people may have, they have no reason to silence anyone neither by murder nor by tribunals.

If we want to wake up crapping on god/allah/yaveh/brahma/buddha/whatever. We do and that's it. You don't like it? So good. I also don't like your procesions in Easter nor Christmas lights nor hijab nor circumcission. I have to put up with some of your shit and you will have to put up with some of mine. And if we can't do that then there is no solution but call back Enver Hoxa and impose atheism for all at gunpoint.

I don't think that ridiculous superstions of any sort deserve any protection other than which deserve the individuals that suffer that mental disease.

You will notice that unlike that jerk of Wilders, for me it's not any issue of Judeo-Christianism vs. Judeo-Christiano-Islamism. For me it's an issue of common sense and healthy skepticism and a bunch of idiots who want to impose their weirdo fantasies at gunpoint or in the tribunals. Well, if we have to go to the guns, I appeal to the old good European traditions: guillotine for all reactionary clerics and other fanatics.

You force your daughter to wear hijab? Guillotine. You force your son to go to Catholic school? Guillotine. You preach mysogyny, homophobia in the name of God? Guillotine.

Or at least some good reeducation camp.

That's justice and that is freedom for all, specially for children not to be brainwashed by their sectarian parents.

Anonymous said...

Religion does't matter: a crime by an extremist is condemnable as the crime it is, regardless from which direction.
We didn't have political murdering overhere for far over 2 centuries. But the first one since then, was a few years ago on Pim Fortuyn. By a fully white and Dutch extremist. Nothing religion. But murder as well.
Most people overhere, are not criminal. Doesn't matter from which religion or not. There is - as far as i know - not much relationship between religion and criminality. With social class some, but with age and sex most. Though far from all our younger males are in prison. Criminality has in essence to do with damaging others. Physical, psychical, economical. Violence hasn't to be just blowing or murdering someone. I hope you understand, i'm not talking about normal conflicts between individuals now. But about disturbing lifes of others who had nothing to do with it. Peacefull citizens. Not just financially like me, in their possibilities also. I think our prime minister a bit funny, but in the case of Wilders i was glad with his reply! Of course in court it is about Fitna, the most clear case. With the most financial damage too. Completely different from the cases of Hirsi Ali [who has suffered personally], Theo van Gogh and Rushdy.
About that, i think your remark about homophobia very useful. I never understood what could be wrong with people liking eachother. Couldn't find anything at all that would cause damage to others with that, even when i was just 13. Two of my classmates, both boy, 10 years later walking in town together, one blown in the face without any reason. No islam or whatever religion in the neigbourhood, it was a young white male called "potenrammer" [not in my dictionary alas]. And why? Just because they were 2 males walking together. In a public street.
Of course i find it terrible what people can do eachother. Impossible to understand also, why not just live and let live? Though i don't think that a crusade against religions would help even the smallest bit. Even our law doesn't prevent much. But gives a chance to do something at it, though it's in the rear. I think it is a good job to confront people with consequences of their behaviour for others. And i'm glad our law gives that possibility.
I know you Basks have less reason to trust law, especially the people who should execute it in first line. But Wilders is Dutch, in a Dutch situation, under Dutch law. Though his violence accused of wasn't physical, in my opinion then too the end does NOT justify the means. So i'm still not unhappy a judge looking at him.

Maju said...

You are certainly right about hate violence not being necesarily induced by religion. But it's also true that religion with all its old-fashioned "moralism" and its imaginary sanction by "God" can work "miracles".

Notice: nothing less than "God" itself: it's the perfect justification for anything, for what can be more important than "God" if you happen to have blind faith? Neither law nor common sense, much less humanitarian respect, can stand in the way of such schizophrenic motivation.

Whatever the case, Wilders has not comitted any violence. Just the usual tendentious manipulation of facts to justify an idea. Anyone who has watched the film, even many people of Muslim background, some religious others rather anti-religion, say it's rubbish but irrelevant.

Words cannot be violence, nor can be "art" (though this film, or rather propaganda clip, has no artistic quality anyhow). When we start to treat words and opinions the same as physical violence, we:

1. Attack one of our most important cultural and political pillars: freedom of speech.
2. Trivialize actual violence and may even justify it (if I can't speak up freely, I can certainly do something much more brutal with about the same consequences).

And one thing is clear for me: there are not anymore exclusive "Dutch", "Basque", "Chinese" or "Arab" issues: we live in a globalize world, when most of what conditions our lives happen many thousand kilometers away, be it Brussels, Washington, Gaza or Shanghai. The attacks on NY were appaently planned in the mountains of Central Asia, while the bombs that fell on Afghanistan few months later were obviously manufactured half the cicumpherence of earth away. The people kidnapped in Afghanistan and elsewhere and sent to Guantanamo passed by so many countries that we can't almost count them. The Somalian piracy is directly related to overfishing in the Atlantic by European sailors and the illnesses the Inuit suffer are caused by the use of DDT in India and Africa (among other reasons). People in the Sahel cannot find pastures anymore for their cattle and this desertization has been caused by industries in Europe, North America and China. I do not care if it's a "Dutch issue" because I don't think it is just that, the same I don't think that castration of women in some parts of Africa and Asia is a problem that affects only those countries or someting on what only those peoples can have an opinion on.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Of course circumcision of women i see as a horrible crime. Though that is not use with all islamitic people. Only in some cultures, most islamitic but not all. Guantanamo has to do with torture and keeping out of protection by law also. Sure you are talking about crimes to other people here! Religion or not.
I don't want to deny how worse physical violence can be. But i don't want to deny either, what harm emotical / psychical violence can do. Especially to children. Without touching with even 1 finger. Words and the like less violent??? Not to my experience!
IF Wilders will be condemned, he will get punishment in proportion. It won't be the same as for murder or corporally mistreatment. Beside he has the right to [let] defend himself. Going in appeal as he likes. All kind of possibilities circumcised women nor prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have.
Perhaps the judge will come to the same conclusion as you do in advance. Though i set more value at Dutch court, expecting them to look at more interests less preposessed.

Anonymous said...

Keep thinking about it. Perhaps the article you linked to, wasn't clear enough about the situation. Wilders has not been on trial yet [except a few condemnations for violating copyrights]. The only thing happened, is that Amsterdam Court permitted the Prosecution Counsel to START a trial against Wilders. Questioning IF he has gone too far, or not. So there isn't any outcome yet at all.

Maju said...

I don't want to deny how worse physical violence can be. But i don't want to deny either, what harm emotical / psychical violence can do. Especially to children. Without touching with even 1 finger. Words and the like less violent??? Not to my experience!

Words can be offensive but they are not really violence. Maye threats can be considered that? Whatever the case, if you restrict freedom of speech, then you are promoting violence and fascism.

My concern is that with whatever pretexts, we are promoting violence in the form of monolithic thought and fascism whenever we curtail freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

??? Why then, that you promote guillotine for parents, forcing their kids to something religious? As if such forcing would NOT be a clear illustration of non-physical violence???
Perhaps not free speech as such is the problem, but the not always unfounded fear that it will be picked up by others, using it against too many innocent thirds?
About the subject: we will see what the judge has to say about it. It really is possible the judge will agree with you. It wouldn't be the first trail Prosecution Counsel is loosing. That's for clarity about what is permitted overhere. Sure I would like to know the finding of the court! Alas, that will take a while.

Maju said...

??? Why then, that you promote guillotine for parents, forcing their kids to something religious?

Even if I was tired and angry when I worte that, I did never say what you claim.

I said that if pushed to violence, we should cater to old good European traditions, like guillotine. But then said that a Maoist reeducation center could also be an option.

IMO the problem of the Muslim World is that they have not been allowed (by neocolonialist intervention/instigation) to have a Robespierre, Stalin or Mao, something that would be healthy for them. Instead we are deposing the secularist Husseins and promoting the Abdullahs, Mubaraks and Hassans, all them fundamentalist fascists. I know I'm derailing a bit but it's to illustrate my viewpoint.

As for the trial, we'll see. But I don't think it's good to curtail freedom of speech, even if it's a tremendously one-sided pamphlet what's being judged.

Anonymous said...

Quote, your comment 23/1/09 7:22 AM here above:

"You force your daughter to wear hijab? Guillotine. You force your son to go to Catholic school? Guillotine. You preach mysogyny, homophobia in the name of God? Guillotine."

Anonymous said...

It wasn't the guillotine on which i commented. Clear to me, that guillotine would be a little exaggerated. In your commotion, you however overlooked WHY i referred to your comment:
"??? Why then, that you promote guillotine for parents, forcing their kids to something religious? As if such forcing would NOT be a clear illustration of non-physical violence???"
From your most recent comment, i understand that you acknowledge after all: the existance of emotical / psychical violence and that such sure can harm as well, especially children. In contradiction to your comment 24/1/09 5:48 PM when i said 24/1/09 1:24 AM the same.
Perhaps time for a new read of my comments?

Maju said...

Sure, I don't deny that psychological violence can and does exist. But adults are best placed to deal with it normally and I don't see why Wilder's pamphlet is worse than anything else. Rather than calling for violence, he exaggerates and distorts the "Muslim danger". He could be acused if anything of lying but I don't think this is a crime anymore, anywhere (otherwise publicists and politicians would be all in jail).

My biggest concern re. psychological violence is on children, as these are both the most vulnerable and also the future.