Belief in the market square
We like to think that we live in a postmodern age, an age where we all as individuals can freely pursue our own lives and seek our own paths. The freedom to do that comes from freedom of speech as much as anything else.
Freedom of speech is actually under attack in many ways. One of those ways is through threat of violence by religious believers that oppose blasphemy.
Whenever anyone attempts to control the conversation, or to stifle questioning of beliefs or dogma, then we all lose.
What truly makes our way of life ‘great’ is that the only truths which are worthy of public respect must earn that respect through allowing open questioning of their validity.
Hillsdale College recently published a piece entitled Blasphemy and Free Speech by Paul Marshall a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
This piece often makes many references to Islam, but it wasn’t too long ago that blasphemy laws or retribution for blasphemy was also common in Western society.
There are still too many occurences of violence towards those that do not believe or behave as we believe appropriate — such as the 70 year old Jewish woman that was beaten recently by five Jewish men because she was suspected of being a missionary, which blasphemed their community and their beliefs. As it turns out, she was indeed a missionary of sorts: she was teaching converts to Judaism how to be good Jews.
Blasphemy laws are the breeding grounds for intolerance and the inbreeding of hate.
We must be respectful to other beliefs but we must also insist that our culture is built on the right to free enquiry, freedom of speech, and both the freedom of religion and freedom from religion.