It was a good day for free expression. Hundreds turned up in the freezing cold in London to defend it and there were solidarity rallies and actions in various parts of the world. A report will follow soon, including videos on Youtube and photos, but in the meanwhile you can hear the brilliant speakers on the Pod Delusion.
To start with, here’s the Jesus and Mo author’s statement for the rally. More speeches will follow.
When was the last time you rushed into a place of worship while a service was taking place, and told the preacher to shut up? My guess is that you have never done this while sober.
Because you know that it is impolite to butt in to other people’s conversations and demand that they stop talking.
And yet that is what would-be censors are always trying to do. At St Mary’s College, on other people’s Facebook pages, at literature festivals, and on the website of Jesus and Mo, they have butted in with their rude – and sometimes menacing – demands for silence.
It is the height of bad manners. Those of us who understand the value of free expression wouldn’t dream of being so discourteous.
In fact, far from telling believers to shut up, we WANT them to keep talking. Because that is how their ideas are exposed to light and – inevitably – laughter.
In the end, there is only one solution available to those who don’t want their beliefs to be laughed at: stop believing funny things.
So this is my message to the religious censors: we do not merely ASK that you show us the same courtesy that we show you. We INSIST on it.
We are going to be criticizing your scriptures, lampooning your prophets, and laughing at your deeply held beliefs for many years to come. You can complain about us. You can ignore us. Or you can respond in kind with ridicule and laughter of your own.
But you cannot shut us up.
Thank you to everyone here for helping to get that message across.