This is a er… ‘comment piece’, shall we call it, from Alex Gibson, trustee of the newly formed AHS. I’m reproducing it here because it articulates quite well the frustration felt by many people at the pandering to religious ideas that we see day in day out. I’m sure he won’t mind. It’s long, it’s angry, and contains a lot of expletives but it’s well worth reading.
I am absolutely furious right now. I don’t think I have ever been more angry at the utter cowardice, at the complete betrayal and sheer grovelling disgrace of the United Nations. Today, it agreed to pass a resolution against ‘defamation of religion’. Further moves are being made to make it binding which would mean the United Nations is demanding that its member states pass laws that prevent criticism of religion. You throw out one blasphemy law, and over a hundred pop up in its place!
The shocking thing about this is that it’s getting virtually no news coverage. They’re trying to destroy freedom of expression but hey, I’m sure some celebrity has cellulite. I bet a government minister has an undeclared bagel on their expenses bill. What is wrong with people?
It’s no big surprise that the orginators, sponsors and advocates of this bill are the influential voting bloc of Muslim states. Well you know what? Fuck Islam. There you go, I’ve said it. And I mean it. I’m not a racist. I’m not a bigot. I vehemently and in the strongest possible terms decry the fascist repressive ideology of Islam.
Fuck its attitude towards women that has their testimony worth only half as much as a man’s in Sharia courts. Fuck its intolerance of criticism to the point where people – real human beings – are brutally murdered by mindless mobs of self-righteous fanatics because someone, somewhere drew some cartoons or wrote a book. Fuck its death sentences for homosexuals and apostates, its public executions on football grounds of adulterous women and its continual abuse of minorities. And most of all, most importantly of all, fuck its persistent and arrogant campaign to eradicate all opposing viewpoints. The hell with human rights, with human dignity, with the right of everyone to live their lives as they choose: this is Islam. Like it or lump it.
This is a classic – perhaps the classic – example of what you get if you appease intolerable views because they are religiously held. It is not harmless to let people believe what they want, if what they believe is destructive to the human rights of others. The fact that our society has let such sentiment become co-opted so successfully by right-wing bigots is shameful. I am appalled that the only high-profile people who echo these views are people like the BNP or Geert Wilders. I am ashamed to be associated with them. I’m sure many people reading this will assume that I share their views, although they’d be wrong. Stop and think about it. Were you to encounter such a homophobic, misogynistic and frequently anti-semitic ideology in the political sphere, would you not criticise it? What about if this ideology was increasingly imposing itself on Western values and freedom, to the point of overriding the freedom to condemn it. How is that not totalitarian? How is that not worthy of the strongest, most virulent, most foul-mouthed criticism imaginable?
The cowards who are allowing the erosion of our fundamental rights and freedoms are doing so to accomodate an ideology which is as anti-democracy and anti-human rights as any you care to mention, and it makes me sick. It is absolutely despicable the way that our government – and indeed the UN – has caved into the unreasonable and grasping demands of adherants of Islamic ideology. It’s got nothing to do with political correctness, or respect for people’s religious sensitivities. This is too important a matter to fuck around with stupid tabloid soundbites and paranoia. These people – driven single mindedly by their insistence that their values be imposed on the entire world – are deliberately and knowingly destroying the right of you and I to speak against them. Politically-motivated Islam does not give ground. The more concessions we make, the more it will take, and the more we will find human rights vanishing into thin air.
What is the response of other religious groups to this travesty, to the continual efforts of Islamic countries and Islamic fundamentalists to declare themselves worthy of special status, of the right to have their religious opinion trump everyone else’s human rights? Do they stand up and say “we are a multicultural society. No faith must be privileged over another”? Do they defend freedom of expression? Do they uphold the notion that no idea is sacred and beyond condemnation? Of course they don’t. They see how effective Islamic ideology has been at putting itself above criticism, at having its demands met, and they want some of that for themselves. They bleat on about ‘Christianophobia’ and discrimination, in a country that allots them free seats in the legislature, billions of pounds in public money to fund sectarian schools, allows them unwarranted, protected airtime on our national broadcasting service and consults with them on matters of morality and ethics which they have no right to be involved in. The ignorance and arrogance of these people is obscene.
Then, on the other side, you have a cadre of non-believers and secularists who say “well I’m an atheist, but…” or “I think you go too far”. Well you know what, get real. If this UN resolution teaches us anything, it’s that you cannot treat intolerant views nicely, whatever the reason behind them. You cannot appease religions who believe it is their god-given right to stamp on the rights of others. They must be fought ferociously at every corner because otherwise they will run riot. They will take everything they can get their greedy hands on. Standing on the sidelines and sniping does nothing, achieves nothing, and in the face of such awful, aggressive religious ideology makes you look cowardly. You don’t beat back a savage animal by rolling over and letting it disembowel you. This is not the Church of England. The religious governments who put this amendment through are not cuddly and harmless. They will have their way, and they don’t give a flying fuck about human rights as long as they succeed. You can’t just rely on basic human decency here, you can’t expect people to grant you your freedoms: we’re going to have to fight for them.
I’ve just about had it. I will not equivocate on this because it is so vitally important. Your religious views, whatever they mean to you, will never be as important as basic human rights, will never be as important as having a neutral secular state to govern everyone equally. Whatever you believe in – whether it’s God, Allah, Thor or Quetzlcoatl – don’t you dare try and castrate my right to speak freely about it. To quote Eric Schwartz: who the fuck are you to turn your views into my laws? I am through being patient, with being anything other than openly hostile to religious ideologies which demand special privileges and who seek to impose themselves on us all. I have always advocated a state in which everyone – of all faiths and none – is treated equally under law. No religious view is given precedence over another, and in all regards the country plays no religious favourites. This is not an atheist view, or a Humanist view. It is the view of every sane, rational person on the fucking planet and if you disagree with it, I’m sorry, but there is something seriously fucking wrong with you.
I know I’ll regret writing this. I’m angry right now, really really angry. It’s a juvenile post which is probably not even coherant. But that’s kind of the point I want to get across. This isn’t just another example of religious extremism you can ignore, and if it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back it’s a fucking bale of hay. We will never have this law enacted in the UK, but there are places all over the world where speaking out against religion will get you arrested, jailed or even killed and this resolution says that’s acceptable. It isn’t. The passing of this resolution is an unforgiveable act for everyone involved in its creation, as far as I’m concerned.
I should point out that everything here is me, what I think. For anyone to take this as representative of any organisation I am a part of, any demographic that I am a part of, would be the highest form of dishonesty. I – personally – am sick and tired of appeasing these strident, arrogant fundamentalists. This matters. It will not go away. Either we stop it right here or they will just take and take and take until there is no equality for everyone, no freedom of expression. Were this UN resolution to be passed in the UK I could very likely be jailed, fined or otherwise punished for the content of this note. People like Richard Dawkins would be in jail. Who’s to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury wouldn’t be facing some community service for claiming that Christianity is the one true religion, and by extension defaming other religions as false. They hang people in Iran for being gay. They hang them. This UN resolution would make it illegal for me to condemn that. Read that, as many times as it takes for it to sink in, and tell me that I should respect Islamic ideology. That I should be polite and courteous and respectul as religions tear human rights away one by one.
Well, I won’t do it anymore. There isn’t a shred of sympathy left in my body for the opinions of the criminals who put this resolution together, and passed it. They have desecrated fundamental ethical principles which hold our world together and you know what – they don’t care, because their poxy little cult, based on the incontestable words of a delusional 7th century paedophile, has to win. It has to be in charge. They aren’t content with their own delusions, they want us all to suffer under them as well. And if we don’t? Well we should shut up and watch them abuse minorities and piss over all our hard-fought ethics and values. I fucking won’t, and neither should you.