Robert Green Ingersoll on Blasphemy

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Blasphemy is also a crime against God but, nothing can be more absurd than a crime against God. If God is infinite, you cannot injure him. You cannot commit a crime against any being that you cannot injure. Of course, the infinite cannot be injured.

Man is a conditioned being. By changing his conditions, his surroundings, you can injure him; but if God is infinite, he is conditionless. If he is conditionless, he cannot by any possibility be injured. You can neither increase, nor decrease, the well-being of the infinite. Consequently, a crime against God is a demonstrated impossibility.

The cry of blasphemy means only that the argument of the blasphemer cannot be answered.

The sleight-of-hand performer, when someone tries to raise the curtain behind which he operates, cries “blasphemer!”

The priest finding that he has been attacked by common sense, by a fact, resorts to the same cry. Blasphemy is the black flag of theology, and it means: No argument and no quarter! It is an appeal to prejudice, to passions, to ignorance.

It is the last resort of a defeated priest. Blasphemy marks the point where argument stops and slander begins. In old times, it was the signal for throwing stones, for gathering fagots and for tearing flesh; now it means falsehood and calumny.

Some Reactions to the Charlie Hebdo Attack

From The Onion:

PARIS—Following the fatal terrorist attack Wednesday at the offices of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, sources confirmed this afternoon that it is sadly not yet clear whether this very article will ultimately put human lives at risk.

According to totally and utterly depressing early reports, given the tragic deaths of 12 people, it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that this 500-word article will not make those involved in its writing—and potentially even those not involved—the targets of brutal and unconscionable violence.

“The heartbreaking tragedy that unfolded in Paris today is the result of a perverted, hateful ideology that has no place in the civilized world,” is a quote that someone or some group of people might be reading at this very moment and, in what unfortunately serves to illustrate the horrifying state of modern society, interpreting as an unforgivable insult against their beliefs that must be met with the cold-blooded murder of innocent people. “It’s just so terrible and senseless. I mean, how can something like this even happen?”

From The Economist:

Charlie Hebdo has been hit before. In 2006 its decision to reprint inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, first published in Denmark, was described by Jacques Chirac, then France’s president, as a “manifest provocation”. In 2011 the magazine’s offices were firebombed after it published an issue purporting to be guest-edited by the Prophet. That did not deter it: despite pleas from some French politicians, it insisted on its right to free speech. This week, when the gunmen came, they reportedly called for the offending cartoonists by name.

The magazine had the right to publish everything it did, and French law is right to allow it to. There can be no “but” in that sentence. Even when a picture or opinion is imprudent or tasteless, unless it directly incites violence it should not be banned. Charlie Hebdo lampoons all religions, not just Islam—but it would have the right to single out that faith if it wanted to, just as Islamists in Europe are entitled to denounce Western decadence if they so choose. In any case, there is a world of difference, and several centuries of liberal political thought, between giving and taking offence and killing people over it. Nothing can be done with a pencil or a keyboard that warrants a reprisal with a Kalashnikov.

From Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want.

In Islam, it is a grave sin to visually depict or in any way slander the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are free to believe this, but why should such a prohibition be forced on nonbelievers? In the U.S., Mormons didn’t seek to impose the death penalty on those who wrote and produced “The Book of Mormon,” a satirical Broadway sendup of their faith. Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.

Moreover, despite what the Quran may teach, not all sins can be considered equal. The West must insist that Muslims, particularly members of the Muslim diaspora, answer this question: What is more offensive to a believer—the murder, torture, enslavement and acts of war and terrorism being committed today in the name of Muhammad, or the production of drawings and films and books designed to mock the extremists and their vision of what Muhammad represents?

To answer the late Gen. Malik, our soul in the West lies in our belief in freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. The freedom to express our concerns, the freedom to worship who we want, or not to worship at all—such freedoms are the soul of our civilization. And that is precisely where the Islamists have attacked us. Again.

How we respond to this attack is of great consequence. If we take the position that we are dealing with a handful of murderous thugs with no connection to what they so vocally claim, then we are not answering them. We have to acknowledge that today’s Islamists are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in the foundational texts of Islam. We can no longer pretend that it is possible to divorce actions from the ideals that inspire them.

This would be a departure for the West, which too often has responded to jihadist violence with appeasement. We appease the Muslim heads of government who lobby us to censor our press, our universities, our history books, our school curricula. They appeal and we oblige. We appease leaders of Muslim organizations in our societies. They ask us not to link acts of violence to the religion of Islam because they tell us that theirs is a religion of peace, and we oblige.

What do we get in return? Kalashnikovs in the heart of Paris. The more we oblige, the more we self-censor, the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.

Joke of the Day

From somewhere on reddit:

Two factory workers are talking. The woman says, “I can make the boss give me the day off.” The man replies, “And how would you do that?” The woman says, “Just wait and see.” She then hangs upside-down from the ceiling. The boss comes in and says, “What are you doing?” The woman replies, “I’m a light bulb.” The boss then says, “You’ve been working so much that you’ve gone crazy. I think you need to take the day off.” The man starts to follow her and the boss says, “Where are you going?” The man says, “I’m going home, too. I can’t work in the dark.”