Freedom From Religion
“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.”
Would Paine be charged with “blasphemy” and hauled off to the Middle East for execution?
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
I’ve undergone a mild transformative awakening these past two weeks. For many years I tried to stay out of the religious questions, the smears, the ambitions of competing religious orders, the propaganda of those who would denigrate their competitors – you probably know the usual culprits. Except for the blatantly silly cults like the Mormons, Scientologists and Jehovas; I mean I’m only a human and a satirist.
But now, faced with a sustained, coordinated assault on freedom of expression, all of it emanating from one direction with one clearly-defined goal, I’m starting to dig in my heels and take Thomas Paine’s warning to heart. Article after article by angry Muslim writers seek to end the First Amendment in America, but only in regard to their religion of course. We just won’t be allowed to talk about Islam freely, and the manner in which we discuss their religion will be dictated by … whom?
“Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.”
-Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov
I’ve read half a dozen Muslim writers, and a few others, this week arguing that we must clamp down on speech in the United States, but I’ve found not a single one that stood up to defend the concept of freedom of expression. Nor did I find the term “theocracy” or acknowledgment thereof, which is the reality in a number of Muslim countries today. We can’t discuss freedom of speech and religion without taking note of theocracy, entrenched, official religious institutions and their dogmas. Do we really want to cast off the lessons of the Enlightenment and take a step several centuries backward? Rash, poorly thought-out rants seek simply to exploit this current hysteria, in my opinion.
“Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.”
-William Butler Yeats
I’ve seen enough from the local religions, where my small western town is essentially drowning in churches and Walmart shoppers. These show up at the front door on Saturday mornings, book in hand, ready to fish for new members and new revenue streams. I’ve considered penning a lengthy pamphlet to hand back, one that offers the opposing arguments concerning their central mythology. But if new church v. state legal erosions come to pass, could such a pamphlet be the first step to death row?
Where I live, for a sizable fee of course, you can even attend ‘prophecy school.’ I shit you not. They’re raking in the rubes by the planeload barely a mile from where I type this. The would-be prophets must book early though because classes are limited to, “between 300-400 to keep it to a smaller more intimate setting.” There they also speak of an, “ever increasing government of God.” The “students” of this “prophecy” program are reminded that the, “word ‘tithe’ means ‘tenth’ and it is a way of honoring God with the first 10% of our income.” Honoring whom? They really pack ‘em in for the live event stuff, and so be advised, “…no refunds will be given 21 days prior the event.”
As Jesus said, “All sales are final.”
“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
I’m afraid many of us see the world differently, very, very differently. I’m simply not impressed by your fairy tales, whomever you are, as they were concocted by primitive peoples who would run away from a vacuum cleaner. I’m hoping that the rationality of progress will show these myths to be less than proven, and their iron traps on the minds of millions will rust and crumble away over time.
Thus we have the ultimate fear of the religious zealot (the professional Mumbo Jumbologist), that his fancy talk will one day lose all power over his minions. In this competition, this lust for power, it’s not the spiritual kind of magical power that accumulates, but the very real political kind which results from influencing the flock, the group mind. Uniformity of thought and monolithic conformity is to be desired.
Organizations with so many members are by nature dangerous. They soon insulate themselves from conflicting messages, and then they seek to eradicate the opposition, to tear down society’s barriers, which keep them in
check. For why should they be restrained? After all, they are correct in all matters. God said so.
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.”
We in the U.S. have enough problems with the local religious zealots without a sustained assault by angry foreign fundamentalists who would seek to interfere in what we can or cannot say here. I’ve laid out my basic case for defending free speech, but the crux of it is that we must tolerate ideas that we personally oppose or find “blasphemous,” or else we simply don’t support freedom of expression. And if you don’t support freedom of expression, you’d best take more than a couple minutes’ rant figuring out what it is you do support. People have a right to disagree. People have a right to satirize. People have a right to “insult.” People have a right to “blaspheme.” People have a right to tell you that you’re wrong.
Like it or not, you can disagree all you want legally in America. What you cannot do is banish speech you find objectionable. Once that becomes an established norm then any speech can be banned.
If we were to toss the First Amendment in the dumpster in response to the Muslim world’s current demand for sacredness, why could we not just ban Islam in America?
Why not ban all mention of that religion and eradicate it here?
If freedom of expression has no value, why then freedom of religion?
Conversely, why not make the President of the United States a holy figure?
The American President as God’s Holy Messenger on Earth could be considered a Prophet. He could be considered God. He could be considered whatever religious concept anyone can imagine, the moment you erase the separation of church and state. The Congress could be anointed Apostles of the Holy Government. The United States could redefine itself as the Glorious Manifestation of God’s Rule Over Planet Earth.
Where does it end?
It ends at the freedom to say “no.” No, he’s not a God; he’s not a Prophet. There will be no “establishment” of religion in the U.S. There will be freedom of speech. Actually it’s already been said. Get over it.
“When it comes to bullshit, big-time major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe, in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion.”
The Emperor Opines
Barack Obama spoke Tuesday at the UN in one of the most cynical, historically revisionist pieces of propaganda I’ve ever read in my life.
But I do agree with his point defending freedom of speech:
“I know there are some who ask why don’t we just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech … I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.”
If Obama had stopped there, this would be a triumph.
But, this explanation was but one tiny slice of the propaganda barrage that Barack Obama employed. A modern magician, Obama’s soothing words seek to hypnotize and to create the illusion that the empire has disappeared. Like an elephant behind rotating mirrors.
“[True democracy] depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear, and on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.”
I should do an expanded article on that one presidential whopper, so dripping with hypocrisy that the floor of the General Assembly needed mopping up. Obama, whose Homeland Security engineered the crushing of the peacefully-assembled Occupy Wall Street movement across the nation, and is currently fighting tooth and nail in a federal appeals court to destroy due process and detain suspects without charge indefinitely, presents himself as the savior of the world.
“Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents.”
He means in other countries.
“The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations for our own people and for people all across the world.”
Except, apparently, when they demand an end to corruption and Wall Street superfraud.
“Now let me be clear, just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not, and will not, seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad.”
I’m not sure if this was intended as a comedy routine.
It is the main endeavor of the United States foreign policy to dictate the outcomes of democratic transitions abroad. It’s hard to entertain the notion that it does much of anything else. The NED, IRI, Freedom House, State Department, CIA, and numerous foundations loosely connected to the federal government have their toxic tentacles sucking on every corner of the globe, every so-called “democratic” transition. Even in Russia the government must pass new laws to register these meddlers as “foreign agents” whose purpose is plainly to “seek” to enforce Washington’s will in foreign elections.
When foreign democracies are aligned against the empire, it resorts to military coups, bribes, covert sponsorship of terrorist networks and every variety of fabricated propaganda imaginable. Obama’s claim that the U.S. “has not, and will not” seek to push their choices onto foreign countries does not even pass the laugh test. I can’t even imagine the reactions of educated and informed representatives in the UN General Assembly.
Obama also resorts to insinuation, trying to pretend that the Benghazi attack was an outgrowth of the “Innocence of Muslims” film protests, so as to avoid the actual motivations of those who assassinated the ambassador. In Bush-esque pairing of “9/11” and “Saddam” and “mushroom cloud,” Obama associates the embassy attack with the movie protests, over and over.
There is no evidence that this film was a factor in the coordinated military attack in Benghazi. The evidence suggests a highly-planned, well-manned military assault worked out long before the movie trailer became an issue. One eyewitness reported no protest at all, and at about 9:30pm “125” well-armed members of a militia stormed the villa.
“And extremists understand this, because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They don’t build. They only destroy.”
Says the man who has covertly supported the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (still on the State Dept. terrorist list!), and the Free Syrian Army terrorists, and has now taken the bold step of legitimizing the MEK terror cult, with its record of international terrorism against Iran and others.
“It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. “
While at the start of the speech, Barack Obama proudly said:
“We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition…”
A violent and extremist coalition. More than 60,000 Libyans have been killed so far in this debacle.
“…and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council.”
This is a bald lie. There was no authorization to bomb ground targets in Libya. This clear deception should be called out, as should the associated war crimes of that episode.
“And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end…”
Again, a call for further violence. Is the “Peace Laureate” hearing his own contradictory statements?
This request for war making authority coincides with well-documented covert U.S. support to militias, mercenaries and Al Qaeda connected terrorists committing massacres across Syria. The presence of these foreign terrorists in Syria has been the primary reason for the bloodshed to date. The Syrian government has been responding to armed gangs running amok and committing mass murders.
It doesn’t take too long for Obama to get to the next big call for war, the main attraction of his ‘war is peace’ illusioneering.
“In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads.”
Obama does not mean Operation Ajax and the 1953 killing of democracy in Iran by the CIA. Funny how well phrases can fit so interchangeably. Bush often said lines like this that could apply to U.S. policy in a different context.
“Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history…”
Best to jump back to ancient, and then right up to the current situation with a notable gap in the middle of the time line. Training the illegitimate Shah’s death squads and torturers gets an understandable omission.
“So let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited.”
So this is another clear threat of war, a belligerent statement in violation of the UN’s own Charter. At the podium of the UN itself.
“We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United
Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.”
And Obama controls 5,000 nuclear bombs, most of which are now being “modernized.” Netanyahu controls hundreds of nuclear bombs, and Israel has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the first place. Iran controls exactly zero nuclear bombs, and yet they are the boogeyman, as Saddam Hussein previously controlled exactly zero nuclear bombs and was the boogeyman of his day.
“History shows that peace and progress come to those who make the right choices.”
As defined by Washington, New York and London. Small countries, which elect leaders considered the “wrong choices” — history shows — are attacked by Washington, by its proxy armies and overthrown. There is the list of current official enemies. There was also the coup in Honduras, Aristide in Haiti, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua. They made a coup attempt on Hugo Chavez in Venezuela as well. In Chile we know of Pinochet’s reign of terror after the people elected Allende, who was murdered. Similar fates have befallen the wrong democratically-elected ruler in nation after nation. One thing that all these violent overthrows had in common was that the bloody hands of the United States and often of its CIA were involved.
“The war in Iraq is over. American troops have come home.”
And no one has been charged with that illegal act of belligerence, a war of aggression in violation of the UN Charter. The accumulated evil of that assault could be considered a Crime Against Humanity. Studies put the number of deaths over 1 million since 2003. Previous to that, 1.5 million died as a result of U.S. mandated sanctions, and there was also the first Gulf War and hundreds of thousands of casualties. As many as 4 million Iraqis fled their homes and have since become refugees.
There is clearly one law for the superpower and a different law for everyone else. There also seems to be one reality for the emperor and a different set of facts for the rest of us. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Amen.