Well, it’s September 30th again — Blasphemy Day — and it’s time to renew our dedication to the principles of free speech, even if it offends a few people. As we’ve said in our discussions of religious privilege, a common tactic that religious folks use to silence dissent is to assert that they’re somehow victims of oppression if people outside of their church are allowed to not obey their rules. For instance, the many times that churches in the United States and around the world often cry persecution because Tony and Craig want to get married and live lives that don’t affect that church in any way.
In short, tolerance for your religion doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to walk on eggshells to avoid offending your tender feelings — particularly when your feelings are so tender that practically anything can set you off.
Blasphemy Day is a bi-product of one this impulse’s worst results: the violent 2005 riots over a Danish newspaper printing a cartoon satirizing the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. Embassies were burned and people are murdered because of one religion’s ultra-sensitivity to a vague, non-violent offense. And a small American Muslim group in 2010 directed their own death threats at the creators of the show South Park for the inclusion of Muhammad in an episode of the show. Over a fucking cartoon, people were murdered and threatened with death. A cartoon.
Oh, grow the fuck up, Islam.
While I don’t think Muslims as a whole are violent and I think they should be free to practice their religion peacefully, my tolerance does not extend to giving them freedoms and privileges that I wouldn’t give to their domestic, Christian counterparts.
If someone does something that offends your religious beliefs, you don’t magically get license to threaten someone’s life or burn their homes, offices or buildings down. And you don’t have the right to use fear to make other people respect your beliefs. Period.
And do you really think that atheists never see things that offend us? Really?
Having a freedom of belief doesn’t mean you get to live in a protective bubble where your beliefs are never criticized and everyone has to treat your opinions with kid gloves. However, having a freedom of speech does mean that you’re inevitably going to have put up with the occasional speech that offends you. Deal with it. We do.
It doesn’t mean you can’t respond. It just means you can’t demand silence, you can’t frighten people with coercion and you can’t threaten them with murder. As always, the use of violence against speech you don’t like is the admission that you’ve lost the argument.
So, to celebrate this year’s celebration of blasphemous free speech, I’m going to share a few of my favorite instances of blasphemy from different movies, television shows and cartoons.
Enjoy! And feel free to respond with a few of your own!
This first one is from Conan the Barbarian:
And from the World Wrestling Federation. The funniest part about this clip is that Jake “the Snake” Roberts, the man Steve Austin is mocking, is a real-life evangelical Christian — and a bit of a hopeless drunk.
And from my favorite television show, the Venture Bros., where Shoreleave and Sky Pilot, a couple of super-spies undercover as an ex-gay ministry, jump in to save the day with prayer! It can move mountains, Hank!
And my personal favorite, Christopher Hitchens decimates his debate opponents on the topic of the Catholic Church’s effect on the world.
What are your favorite moments of blasphemy?