The Blog of Dabido (the Baka one). Everything in this blog is copyrighted. Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by D. Stevenson.

11 February, 2006

Freedom of Speech

Religion and Politics, two subjects worth avoiding if possible. I'll try to keep this brief. I very much believe in Freedom of speech, but, I certainly don't beleive in intolerance. In the west they seperated Religion and the State for a reason. First of all, it allows for religious freedoms within the law. It also allows for Freedom of speech which is not allowed in other parts of the world. After all, if you are living in a theocracy, were the Government and the Religion are one and the same, your freedom to choose your own religion is either removed or restricted, and your freedom to critisize thos in power becomes restricted. The fact is, there will always be people in the world who will always blaspheme in the name of Freedom of Speech. I present to you the Wikipedia article on Freedom of speech, which lists everything from the recent Cartoons (offensive to Islam) and the sacriligious Piss Christ (offensive to Christendom). I find it funny in a way that in Australia they aloowed the Piss Christ to be displayed, but have refused to publish the cartoons. Don't get me wrong, I personally agree with the later decission as the cartoons are obviously blasphemous to Muslims. Just in Australia, which has more Christians than Muslims, they chose to offend one group who hav a majority and not offend another group because we've seen them have a much more violent response. It really is sending a message that violent responses work. I'm wondering if that is what the Government is trying to tell us. After all, the anti-war protests during the Vietname war worked, where as the BIGGEST anti-war marches in Australian history against the recent Iraq War were totally ineffective. Personally, I think the censors should have a good think about things. Of course, Freedom of speech advocates will point out that all blasphemy in their books should be allowed, as any religion will just hide behind any law which decides to outlaw blasphemy. The religious groups will just use it to ban all publications of rival religions or critisism leveled at their own religion. Soon, there won't be a religious text in site (which will make Athiests very happy). There is obviously a line there, and that line was recently crossed. But, people have been crossing that line for many centuries. I think the easy place to draw the line is to consider each individual religious prophets, wisemen, Gods etc as if they are real people alive today (and lets face it, most religions will say they are still alive in a heaven at present). Now, using that pre-requisite, we can consider anything which would be slanderous towards a person who is alive today as blasphemy. (And really, isn't that what blasphemy is, it's slandering someone's God, Prophet, wiseman, whatever). Of course, this will probably result in the press/artists etc getting clever and using loopholes to get around law and blaspheme in otherways (the same way that people can imply you are something you are not without actually saying it in order to get peopel to think lesser of you). It'll be a matter of honing the laws till we get a good balance between not being intolerant to still allowing critism of religions when their followers do wrong, or the religion has very wrong beliefs (like the ones which still practice human sacrifice in parts of the world). Freedom of speech, like a lot of other things, is something we should use wisely. It should be used to reveal truths and not to offend.