Freedom Of Speech Is Not Blasphemy

Ideas that cannot stand scrutiny are bad ideas


I believe in human rights. I believe in equality. I believe that mistreating people because of their sex, race or sexuality is not only wrong and despicable but is also illogical – the whole point is that people do not have control over their gender, the colour of their skin or to whom they feel sexual attraction. The mad Christian groups who claim to be able to “cure” homosexuality are simply deluded if science and Lady Gaga are correct and we are all “Born This Way.” And aren’t those fundamentalists going against their omnipotent god by challenging what he/she/it has made? Having said all this, I would also like to state that I am against identity politics because it is against human rights as it treats people as members of a group rather than as individuals.

My main problem with identity politics is that it seeks to divide humanity rather than to unite it. Instead of saying that all members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens are entitled to equal rights and should be viewed on their own merits, identity politics encourages people to seek to define themselves according to ever narrower criteria. When I was at university back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a Gay and Lesbian Society – fair play to them, not my thing but whatever floats your boat. A cursory search of the internet reveals “LGBTQIA+” – don’t ask me. Incidentally, I’m not entirely sure what special rights bisexual folks would require. Dividing people into ever smaller and more bizarrely differentiated groups is not my idea of building an open and inclusive society. This is particularly true when certain identities are considered to be more worthy of the Holy Grail of Victimhood – all identities are equal but some are more equal than others. The vanishingly small group of transsexuals receive attention completely disproportionate to their numbers in the general population; likewise any gay Muslim who is prepared to stick his head over the parapet will be guaranteed a platform on the BBC or the Guardian. But since anti-Semitism is now compulsory on parts of the left as well as the right, try writing anything positive about Jews or Israel and see what happens.

The latest person to fall foul of the identity fascists is Professor Richard Dawkins. Back in the mid to late zeroes the mainstream media couldn’t get enough of Dawkins and his mordant attacks on Christianity and the Bible. His brilliant book “The God Delusion” spawned a television documentary called “Root Of All Evil?” and, along with Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins was one of the main British exponents of the so-called ‘new atheism.’ The media lapped up Dawkins’ attacks on the vicious cult of human sacrifice known as Christianity and applauded his demonstrations of the moral bankruptcy of the Bible. As an upper middle class, Oxford-educated academic born in the 1940s, Dawkins is most comfortable attacking the religion he is most familiar with – Anglican Christianity. It was only when Dawkins broadened his attacks to include Islam that he fell out with those media people who had been amongst his most vociferous defenders. But you see, in modern Britain attacking Christianity (or Judaism) is fine but attacking Islam – a religion virtually indistinguishable from the other two Abrahamic delusions – is “racist.”

A US radio station called KPFA had invited Dawkins to give a speech about his latest book but cancelled the events over his tweets about Islam. KPFA has said that it supports “serious free speech” but does not support “abusive” or “hurtful” speech. The station also claimed Dawkins had been “abusive” towards Muslims in his tweets. KPFA do not have to provide Dawkins with a platform but who are they to decide what is “serious” free speech? Dawkins should demand an apology from the station for claiming he “abuses” Muslims and if no such apology is forthcoming, he should sue them for libel. Dawkins makes it clear he is against Islam as an idea, or rather, as a set of ideas. He has said that the main victims of conservative Islam and its fascist political offshoot Islamism are ordinary Muslims – women, gays, apostates. There is never going to be a meaningful challenge to the far right Islamist agenda if the slightest criticism of Islam is dismissed as racism.

And when I read that KPFA was against “hurtful” speech my first reaction was, are you five years old? If we are going to treat people like infant school kids, what about the old maxim “sticks and stones may break my bones…”? But protecting them from being exposed to “hurtful” speech is part of the ongoing infantilisation of Muslims that has been promoted by the media for the past thirty years. Upsetting Muslims is seen as wrong because they simply cannot help going crazy when their precious religion is insulted. This is a deeply racist idea – one I wrote about at length here. The Establishment in the UK are deeply racist and paternalistic towards Muslims because they, the Establishment, refuse to hold people who are (mostly) non-white to the same standards of decency that they expect from white Westerners. Notice how at a recent gay pride march in London, the police confiscated signs that read “Allah is gay” but not those that read “Jesus is gay.” Such double standards are racist.

Salman Rushdie – someone who knows a bit about having one’s life ruined by religious maniacs – has also pointed out the hypocrisy of so-called leftists defending conservative Islam or far right Islamism. Rushdie calls them the “But Brigade,” as in “Terrorism is bad but Western foreign policy is to blame” or “stabbing elderly Jews to death at their kitchen table is bad but Israel is worse.” The modern, more progressive followers of Islam must despair that well-meaning Westerners see the only authentic Muslims as angry, beard wearing men or silent burka-clad women. And why, in the name of all the made-up gods that have never existed, do the less, shall we say, inclusive followers of the Islamic religion always react in exactly the way predicted by their opponents, as the irony free sign “Behead those who call Islam violent” would seem suggest? This chap is certainly more inclusive, or badly in need of better translation software.

Richard Dawkins is no racist and labelling him as such to stop criticism of only one branch of the Abrahamic delusion is beneath contempt.

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