Feb 12 2012

But you cannot shut us up

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.


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  1. 1

    Brilliant,as was to be expected from the author of Jesus and Moe.

    1. 1.1

      Moe? MOE? Not only do you blaspheme the holy prophet, but you double blaspheme him. You know what that means: you will be put to death twice. TWICE I tell you. :D

      1. John

        Intelligent people who don’t like me might cause me to worry.

        Those who choose stupidity and ignorance over intelligence and reason, especially those who foam at the mouth whenever someone utters anything in any way derogatory to their lying, cheating, murdering, pedophile desert bandit is worthy only of my contempt.

      2. piero

        Ooops! Too much Three Stooges, I guess.

      3. piero

        And also too much Nicaraguan rhum.

  2. 2

    I’m very glad it went well and speaking are speaking out for freedom of speech. As long as humans think for themselves and speak out against injustices, esp the injustices that involve religious dogma, then maybe we can improve things or at least keep them from getting worse. The denial of free speech is an injustice in and of itself.

  3. 3

    I went along yesterday. It was a really great rally and well worth standing for two hours in the freezing cold for.

    I was really impressed by Rhys Morgan. He was far more articulate than most students at my university. I was shocked (but admittedly not all that surprised) to hear that he has been threatened and that his college knew this when they sided with those doing the threatening. People who complain endlessly about the youth of today should hear Rhys.

    Was really pleased also to see Joan Smith there. I’ve read a lot of her books and columns. I thought I saw her in the crowd early on and was really pleased when she came up to speak.

    1. 3.1

      Forgot to say: thanks a lot for organising the rally Maryam.

  4. 4

    What Ismenia said. It was bloody cold but well worth it.

  5. 5
    Paula Kirby

    Brilliant. You can always trust the author of Jesus and Mo to get to the very heart of the matter in fewer words, and with greater good humour, than any of the rest of us!

  6. 6
    Graham Martin-Royle

    A quick video of the rally. If you want to see some more, I took a few more, but all pretty much the same.

    1. 6.1
      Graham Martin-Royle

      Not too sure what happened there, I thought I was just pasting a link.

  7. 7

    Maryam, thanks for organising the rally.

    I think my feet have thawed now!

    It would have been nice to see more than two parliamentarians but hey, I suppose it was only freedom of speech we were defending.

  8. 8
    Steve Bowen

    Also still thawing, but an awesome afternoon nevertheless. So many inspirational speeches from articulate young secularists as well as some big hitters. Thank you for organising this.

  9. 9

    It is the height of bad manners. Those of us who understand the value of free expression wouldn’t dream of being so discourteous.
    You just can’t talk like that to these people. They’re right, you see, and it’s we who are being discourteous and ill-mannered, because we have no standards — no god, no platonic ideas, no bloody souls. They have every right to tell us that we’re utterly wrong and the servants of Belial, and we have no right to tell them that they’re crude, asinine, and dangerous. Because they know the truth. They just do. We have to respect them. Respect, you see, goes from us to them, because they really really know what’s right and what isn’t, really really, really. They speak God’s truth, and you just can’t get more truthful than that, so we have to respect them, you see. They sincerely believe, and we just have to respect sincerity: after all, if people aren’t sincere, they’re not honest, are they? So they must be right, because they really really are sincere. And we’re just wrong, so we are obviously not at all sincere, oh no. So all this talk of bad manners is just satanic hot air and moonshine, because they really know. Honestly. Really really REALLY.

    1. 9.1
      'Tis Himself

      In a nutshell, religion has privilege and the goddists don’t want anyone to forget it.

      1. GordonWillis

        So crude, so bald, so stark. No soul at all. That’s just what I was saying…

  1. 10
    At Maryam’s place | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] post on the Free Expression Rally is [...]

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