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Jan 11 2011

Blasphemy – not a victimless crime

I spoke in error this morning, and so it is time for me to post one of my rare but fun retractions.

In my discussion I made the claim that blasphemy is a crime that doesn’t hurt anyone. After all, while sticks and stones do what it is they do, criticizing or insulting someone, much less an idea, has never resulted in the injury or death of anyone, right?

Wrong:

The governor of Pakistan’s most populous and powerful province, Punjab, was assassinated Tuesday in the country’s capital, Islamabad. Salman Taseer was shot by a member of his personal security detail while in Kohsar Market, a posh area of the capital popular among foreigners, authorities say. “[His security guard] confessed that he killed the governor himself because he had called the blasphemy law a black law,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

I guess we have to amend the saying to “sticks and stones may break my bones, but when my fuckhead Islamitard of a backstabbing coward bodyguard shoots me with a bullet, I die.”

Of course with the usual lack of awareness of irony that usually accompanies the religious, the bodyguard is probably willfully ignorant of the fact that his actions have brought greater insult and shame upon Islam than any words spoken by any blasphemer ever could. In a single act of cowardice and small-minded idiocy, clouded and draped in the faux righteousness that always accompanies violence done for religious purposes, this man has made a lie of the claims that Muslims follow a religion of peace, that Allah punishes infidels, and that Pakistan is anything other than a backwards, barbaric hellhole made so by the forces of religious piety.

“But Crommunist,” comes the predicable whine “this is not the true face of religion. Religion tells us to be good to one another and show respect for our fellow creatures. This man was clearly not acting as a true follower of YahwAlladdha!” I find this claim as tedious as I find it false. This was not a man who is conveniently using his religious beliefs as a shield for his homicidal tendencies – he believes just as fervently as missionaries feeding the hungry or charity groups teaching literacy in developing countries that what he is doing is the manifest will of a deity he has never seen and never will, because the deity doesn’t exist.

This is why I am unmoved by the whinging and wheedling voices of the accommodationists and religious moderates who clamor obsequiously for “tolerance” and “understanding”, meaning that I must not criticize religious beliefs out of deference for the hurt feelings of the faithful. If “tolerating” religion means that I have to make the same piss-poor excuses for acts of horror that very clearly have their genesis in theistic belief, I refuse. While I recognize your right to believe whatever nonsense you want in the privacy of your own head, I am not going to stop pointing out how dangerous your nonsense it. I am not going to pretend that there is a “real” version – a version that nobody seems to manage to actually put into practice, and in no way follows from your scripture – that is above criticism. I am not going to be nice and pretend that you’re “one of the good ones” just because you haven’t murdered anyone. The ideas are dangerous, and they deserve nothing but scorn and ridicule.

Tragically, Mr. Taseer learned the price of such a stance when taken in a place where religion is allowed free reign over reason. I am deeply saddened by this despicable act that brings shame on all Muslims everywhere, and all religious people by extension.

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  1. 1
    Brian Lynchehaun

    What’s worst about this is the Governor didn’t even commit blasphemy: he just suggested that it wasn’t a good law, and that it should be tightened up to deal with some loop holes. And bang he was killed. For being in *favour* of a *good* blasphemy law.

  2. 2
    Daniel Schealler

    There is one thing about this that, while not good, is at least going to be interesting.

    The usual claim that the assassin in question was ‘just a lone nut – don’t judge the religion based on the actions of one man’ never really flew to begin with – but it would be utterly ludicrous here.

    Mumtaz Qadri received a letter of support signed by over 1,000 laywers. He was publicly garlanded with flowers and showered with rose petals.

    So at the very least, we can be done with the ‘one lone nut’ apologetics in this case.

    RIP Salman Taseer.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/salmaan-taseer-assasination-pakistan-blasphemy-laws?INTCMP=SRCH

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    I don’t know that that aspect is what is worst, but I understand your point. While you and I saw “let’s not allow the death penalty to be brought against people as a means of persecuting religious minorities”, those who supported the killing saw “let’s encourage people to blaspheme against Islam.”

  4. 4
    Daniel Schealler

    Hang on, I just realized.

    Doesn’t ‘assassin’ stem from the root term ‘Hashishin’?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassins

  5. 5
    Crommunist

    Yeah, but this guy wasn’t an assassin. Political leaders have been murdered by their guards and by hired killers for centuries (and probably millennia) before that particular sect.

  6. 6
    Daniel Schealler

    Killed a bit of time on my lunch break today looking up articles on the Hashishin.

    From what I’ve seen, it looks like most of what we know about them comes from the writings of their immediate opponents. Nice and dispassionate observers, yeah?

    Right.

    Ah well. At least I learned something today.

  1. 7
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