News

Some people just don’t get it

A FACEBOOK page has just been created in support of One Law for All’s rally for Free Expression which is being held in London from 2pm to 4pm at the Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords on February 11 – and one of the first people to comment – someone called Simon Richards – posted this lame comment:

Naturally, I support this, but I do think it regrettable that freedom of expression has been coupled with secularism here. Freedom of expression should exist both for those who support and those who oppose secularism. There are, for example, many instances of Christianity in the UK being discriminated against as a result of secularism.

Maryam Namazie

I immediately responded to this bilge, saying:

Christians being discriminated against in the UK? That’s just rubbish. The majority of recent high-profile “persecuted Christian” cases have either involved homophobic bigots who flouted equality legislation, or zealots who have refused to comply with dress codes that forbid the wearing of religious symbols at work. These people have unreasonably demanded exemption from anti-discrimination laws and workplace rules, and fully deserve to be prosecuted and held up to ridicule. 

And Hassan Radwan said:

Secularism is the only way to guarantee freedom of expression. If we allow religion – any religion – to dictate what we can say and do, you can kiss goodbye to freedom of expression and a good many other freedoms. Christianity today is only relatively benign because secularism and the enlightenment has pushed it into the private sphere and defanged it. But give it half a chance and it would soon be enforcing itself on us all – for the love of Jesus of course.

Please feel free to add a comment on the Facebook page.

According to Maryam Namazie, the call for action follows an increased number of attacks on free expression in the UK, including 17-year-old Rhys Morgan being forced to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon or face expulsion from his Sixth Form College, and demands by the UCL Union that the Atheist society remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon from its Facebook page.

It also follows threats of violence, police being called, and the cancellation of a meeting at Queen Mary College where One Law for All spokesperson Anne Marie Waters was to deliver a speech on Sharia.

The Day of Action has already been endorsed by nearly 100 groups and individuals including Jessica Ahlquist, Centre for Secular Spaces, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Richard Dawkins, Equal Rights Now, Jesus and Mo Creator, Taslima Nasrin, National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, National Secular Society, Salman Rushdie, Southall Black Sisters, and Peter Tatchell. Please add your name to the declaration.

In addition to the London rally, there will be demos and acts of solidarity in other countries, including Australia, France, Gambia, Germany and Poland. To see the list or to add your own action or event, click here.

Said Namazie:

Clearly, the time has come to take a firm and uncompromising stand for free expression and against all forms of threats and censorship. The right to criticise religion is a fundamental right that is crucial to many, including Muslims. February 11 is our chance to take that stand. You need to be there. Enough is enough.

31 Responses to “Some people just don’t get it”

  1. The Woggler says:

    I do wish these ‘persecuted’ christians would realise that they are grossly insulting millions of people around the world who really know the meaning of the word.

  2. Daz says:

    If I may be excused for self-linking, here’s my thoughts
    on this so-called persecution.

    Signed the declaration.

  3. AngieRS says:

    Signed

  4. Barry Duke says:

    You are more than excused, Daz. That’s one damn good link!

  5. Daz says:

    High praise indeed! Thanks Barry.

  6. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Signed. I’ll be at the rally.

  7. Faithless says:

    Awesome link Daz…poetic.

  8. I’ll be there, looking forward to it.

    If any crazy dares to disagree with my opinions, I will mercilessly engage in rational discussion with them and not infringe their legal rights.

    I think the Freethinker really has to do something about people shamelessly self-linking; it’s getting out of control now.

    http://enlightenmentlover.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/q-what-does-secular-mean-a-it-means-normal/

  9. remigius says:

    Looks like the Jesus and Mo kerfuffle is kicking off at the LSE now.

    http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2012/01/jesus-mo-cartoon-censorship-controversy.html

    The Student Union stated that ‘The offensive nature of the content on the Facebook page is not in accordance with our values of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious affiliation.’

    It’s a cartoon for fuck’s sake!

  10. heh at ‘tolerance’.

    Oh, the irony.

  11. remigius says:

    Student Union Statement fixed…

    ‘The offensive nature of the content on the Facebook page Islam is not in accordance with our values of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious affiliation.’

  12. Har Davids says:

    It’s like a remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People you shouldn’t expect if from siding with religious nuts and over what? A perfectly innocent cartoon called Jesus and Mo. Two blokes sharing a flat and, every now and then, a glass of liquid, philosophising about religion and being ridiculed by a bar-maid.

    Might as well suspend secular democracy if everybody starts acting like the ‘useful idiots’ they’re probably called.

  13. Har Davids says:

    Sorry for the Boldness in my comment.

  14. barriejohn says:

    This has gone beyond a joke now, so to speak!

    On Monday 16th January it was brought to our attention via an official complaint by two students that the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society posted cartoons, published by the UCLU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, depicting the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus “sitting in a pub having a pint” on their society Facebook page.

    As Har Davids says: their Facebook page features a hippy-type character called Jesus and his mate Mo – who appears to be a Muslim – sharing a pint at the local, that’s all. How could this image possibly be “offensive” to anyone?

    The sabbaticals officers of the LSESU ensured all evidence was collected and an emergency meeting with a member of the Students’ Union staff was called to discuss how to deal with the issue.

    Pretentious, self-important twaddle! They sound like a bunch of sixth-formers. In some of the cartoons reference is made to the fact that the “Jesus” character is actually THE Jesus, and that “Mo” represents the “prophet” of that name, but anyone taking offence at the cartoons is being offended because the truth hurts!

  15. Don says:

    I could be wrong, but it does seem of late that the religious opponents of free speech have chosen to focus on intimidating the youngsters. Of course, they have always done that to an extent, but it almost seems as though they haven’t the stomach to risk another beat down from the grown-ups.

    Fortunately, the youngsters are showing themselves to be tougher and smarter than these bozos anticipated. There is one hell of a generation of freethinkers coming through.

  16. remigius says:

    barriejohn. ‘…Pretentious, self-important twaddle! They sound like a bunch of sixth-formers.’

    Well, up until a year or two ago that’s what they actually were!

    I had a few run-ins with the SU whilst I studied at London University. It seems like nothing much has changed in 20 years.

    They were the most useless bunch of fuckwits I’ve ever had to deal with.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Same here, Remigius. They used to swan around the place as if THEY actually ran it, which in the Sixties was very often the case! They certainly didn’t seem to be there for the sake of their education, like the rest of us mere mortals.

    I’ve posted all this on another forum, and some eejit (a regular Christian subscriber to the site) has commented (yet again!) that you can’t criticize “foreign” religions in this country now, yet Christianity is a fair target. He seems to quite miss the point that the Jesus and Mo cartoons do, of necessity, include Mohammed in their satire, and that Christianity itself is a Jewish heresy from the Middle East!

  18. Jacob Jonker. says:

    Is this an instance of conscious divide-and-rule politics,or is it atavistic reactionarism?I consider myself a freethinker.I have much to criticise Christian religion,indeed,my criticisms of religion would find a target in most religions,but your blanket targeting of Christianity appears mis-directed.It is divisive.To set up Atheists against believers is simply Machiavellian-Playing the politics of division without addressing the real problems in Western society.Unless I’m otherwise persuaded,I think you are stirring to distract people’s attention from the real issues,i.e.,the take-over of the sovereignty of the nation-states in Europe by the (mostly US-based)transnational corporations.If you are really serious,you have not thought things through.If you are playing politics,you are grossly irresponsible.For my views on religion/atheism,see discussion on bhanupadmo.com int. posts.

  19. Daz says:

    Jacob Jonker

    Please point out the instances of ‘blanket condemnation’ you refer to. I can’t find a single one. Lot’s of condemnation of the kind of Christians who indulge in faux-persecution, though. English is evidently not your first language; maybe you should consider allowing for nuances that you aren’t spotting.

    I think you are stirring to distract people’s attention from the real issues,i.e.,the take-over of the sovereignty of the nation-states in Europe by the (mostly US-based)transnational corporations.

    How do you know whether any of us are concerned about this or not? This site’s focus is atheism and religion, not international business practice. Why would we be talking about that here?

  20. Pete H says:

    @ Har Davids:

    First rule of HTML – always close your tags! ;-)

  21. Angela_K says:

    I notice that no comments have been left on the LSESU page containing their cowardly statement.

    Student Unions eh? My experience back in the ’70s was that they were run by barrack room lawyers and various Marxist wannabes who just liked to stir up trouble – tossers the lots them.

  22. Angela_K says:

    Whoops! that should be …the lot of them.

    Please can we have the edit function back Barry!

  23. Jacob Jonker. says:

    Religion is politics,but so is atheism.If Daz believes that international business has nothing to do with religion,Christian or otherwise,in Europe,or elsewhere,then I understand.It is common to both religion followers and atheist followers to think that business keeps strictly out of politics and that religion has nothing to do with business or politics.As to generalising,most political and religious activist rantings read to me as if those activists don’t know who put ‘their’ ideas in their head-Such people are programmed.

  24. The Woggler says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/25/religious-freedom-courts-threat-trigg

    Good to see the one talking sense rather shovelling bullshit here is a priest.

  25. Daz says:

    Angela_K

    Weirdly, I actually read it as ‘the lot of them’ and didn’t notice the typos until you pointed them out. Fascinating, how much we automatically fill in the blanks without noticing.

  26. Groover says:

    Clicking on any part of “rally for free expression” site blacks out whole screen!! Help!! Is it me? Wanna add my name to declaration.

  27. Tim says:

    “Secularism is the only way to guarantee freedom of expression.” – WRONG. Secularism itself denies people of various religious beliefs their right to express themselves. The true way to guarantee freedom of expression is to uphold and defend the principles of individual liberty first and foremost. If we all valued tolerance and individual liberty and much as we value attempting to force our beliefs, be they secular, religious or otherwise, on others, this wouldn’t even be much of an issue. Freethinkers – the term itself as used by many atheists is an oxymoron. There is absolutely no difference in attempting to force secularism on society and attempting to force religion on them. Accepting and upholding the basic premise of individual liberty first and foremost is how you guarantee freedom of expression.

  28. Jacob Jonker. says:

    Democracy,as we understand it,hails from the northwest of what is now Germany.There were and are Friesians there,but the people known to have taken democracy to Britain,whence it spread over the globe,were the Angles and Saxons in the first instance.The Danes and Northmen came somewhat later.The latter’s socio-political structures appear to have been less egalitarian than the others.
    The name we give to our concept of democracy is from the Greek city states.It is right fitting that as the West is drifting steadily into a state of neo-feudality,overseen by the transnational corporations,the country which gave us the word ‘democracy’ ,Greece,is politically and administratively a shambles.It remains to be seen whether the originators of the concept as we know it,the Friesians,Angles and Saxons,will be able to save in practical terms our true meaning of democracy.Proof of the fact that people in the West have by and by been thoroughly alienated from the roots of our high socio-political principles and the concept of the sovereign (nation)state is the lack of insight evident when these things are up for discussion.By far the majority of people get their ideas about this kind of thing from what they hear and read.As a rule,this information is not second- or third hand,but much further removed from good scholarship and unbiased interpretation.One could argue about who dunnit,who perverted proper education,but that is not the point.The people in the West who have been voting for the major political parties the last forty years have been very obviously content to let sovereignty be undermined until now,for all intents and purposes,to get it back the people would have to start a civil war.Well,no,perhaps the politicians,bureaucrats and their mates in big business will give it back when the people ask for it to be given back.
    Freedom of speech,free agency and freedom from political censorship have also long been lost sight of by the people.Government used to be by the people,for the people.Sure,they had kings,but not until the Normans came over from France did kingship become Kingship,with all that entailed.Now we have people for the government,by the government,…or rather;the people,the country,the government and the bureaucracy are for the clique of cliques which have the elected parliamentary representatives and the bureaucratic top in their pockets.It’s anarchy,but the people don’t realise it.The people don’t know who and what started the idea of a socio-political system.Maybe they thought it was God.But the idea of God was hijacked by proto-politicians parading as priests-for a purpose.