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Tony Grist

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Defamation [Mar. 13th, 2005|10:48 am]
Tony Grist
Most of the time I don't want to be insulting the memory of the Prophet Mohammed.

I don't know much about him- I don't care much about him either- but I expect he was a pretty decent sort of a bloke.

All the same I'd like to think that if I needed to I could treat him as freely as I would any other historical character.

I believe, for example, there are questions to be asked about his relationships with women....

However, if the Government gets its way I'll be able to call Churchill a drunk, but if I say something equally defamatory about Mohammed (or Jesus or the Buddha or possibly even L.Ron Hubbard)I'll be committing a criminal act.

Like I say, I don't go round committing blasphemy for fun, but there are times when it's necessary.

How is the study of history possible, or the study of philosophy, if certain figures, by virtue of their religious status, are placed beyond reproach?

Religions- yes, all religions- are typically conservative, obscurantist and repressive. Sometimes they serve human freedom, more often they don't. And when they don't they need to be mocked. It's good for them.

It's good for us.

If the Government's Law on religious defamation comes into force there's a likelihood that the Satanic Verses will be banned.

And what about Life of Brian? What about the Magdalene Sisters? A climate will be created in which artists, commentators and comedians will hesitate before they tackle religious subjects.

It's already happening of course. Since the issuing of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie everyone has been careful when it comes to Islam. I'm being careful now.

And who does the Government side with? It sides with the issuers of death threats. It feels their pain.

(It wants their votes.)

We have spent centuries patiently and painfully wrestling power away from the priests and now we're handing it back.

[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-03-13 06:05 am (UTC)
See what happens when your little Tony links arms (or kisses butt) with our little Georgie? We all can walk, arm in arm, down the NARROW road of ultra-conservatism in the name of protecting the world from itself.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-13 06:42 am (UTC)
I am very, very unfond of our little Tony. Among other things he's spent the past week trying to undo Magna Carta.

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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-03-13 07:36 am (UTC)
See, he's learning at the knee of his mentor, who has been busy undoing the Constitution and Bill of Rights for the past four years.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2005-03-13 06:36 am (UTC)
I love religion. In a way, it can be said that religion makes history. It is cruel and violent and often incomprehensible, but that is what makes it so powerful. Nothing says more about humanity than religion.

If the five patriarchs of the Christian Church had not disagreed, there would be no Greek Orthodox Church. If no one had questioned the succession of Ali, the prophet's son-in-law, there would be no Sunni and Shiite division in Islam. If Wyclif, Luther and others had not questioned the supreme authority of the Catholic Church, salvation through Christ as opposed to a man-made institution, separation of church and state and conscientious objection would be foreign concepts....

There have always been and will always be consequences for those who question or ridicule religion. After all, religion was our cradle. It only follows that it would be our grave.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-13 06:46 am (UTC)
Odi et Amo.......
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2005-03-13 06:49 am (UTC)

Why, you should be a Catholic, my dear, we are all very, very ambivalent!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-13 06:51 am (UTC)
I was almost a catholic once. A high church Anglican is the next best thing.

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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2005-03-13 07:07 am (UTC)
For some time I thought to convert in order that I may be ordained.
Then I asked myself whether I wanted to be ordained at all and realized I was a little mad.

But it crosses my mind sporadically.
Why did you leave again?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-13 07:31 am (UTC)
For a whole host of reasons-

I no longer believed in the Christian God,

I hated the small town morality I was expected to preach,

I was sick of the church's misogyny and conservatism,

And my marriage was falling apart.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2005-03-13 08:42 am (UTC)
Those're a lot of really good reasons.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-13 03:01 pm (UTC)
I had no idea this was happening.

We're entering a shadow world, a new Dark Ages.

This happens over and over, doesn't it? Too bad for us, to be caught in one of the extreme swing times, when Zealots rule.

I am beginning to think it's not Bush and his Zealots who are the cause--it is all of us, being scared of terrorists and feeling that things are spinning out of control.

So we turn to religion to clamp ourselves down.

And we elect reactionary leaders who come on like strong parents ("I'll take care of you, don't worry. Trust me.")

We are getting what we want, I think.

I wonder how long this new Dark Age will last?
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-13 05:03 pm (UTC)
And we elect reactionary leaders who come on like strong parents ("I'll take care of you, don't worry. Trust me.")

We RE-elect reactionary leaders....I think that's the scariest part. What is the saying about those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it?

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-13 05:05 pm (UTC)
I have never been so scared for our country, or for the world, as I am right now.

And the nuclear-threat brushfires keep coming up--North Korea. Iran.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-14 03:03 am (UTC)
But I think the dangers the world faces are actually much less than they were at the height of the Cold War. We are manufacturing enemies, looking for bogeymen.

Perhaps because the thing that scares us most is our Freedom.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-14 03:00 am (UTC)
Bush and Blair couldn't flourish unless the public mood demanded them.

We're afraid.

Of shadows mainly.

I think we need to resist. To stand out against the panic.
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[User Picture]From: hepo
2005-03-15 06:49 am (UTC)
Perhaps, to get your own back, you could start your own religion.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-15 07:05 am (UTC)
I've tried that.

After a few years I got bored with it.

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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2005-03-15 02:52 pm (UTC)
The most dangerous person on earth is the person everyone is afraid to reproach.

"The Satanic Verses" asked fair theological questions (well, as much as one asks such questions within the context of a novel): are good and evil obvious and distinguishable? If to human eyes something appears good, does that make it so? And the point that the title itself makes: if you have a "holy book" and believe it is from God, how do you know that it's not really the devil's trick to lead you into sin? How do you know who was really talking to Muhammed? Sure, you believe, but do you KNOW?

People who are so afraid of questions about their religion that they attempt to silence those who are asking are not people to be pandered to.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-16 02:32 am (UTC)
I don't understand (from a perspective of strict logic) why religious opinions are privileged over other types of opinion.

Why is it OK to mock a person for being a conservative or a Ufoologist or a vegan, but not for being a Muslim? All dearly held beliefs need to be tested to destruction. That's how human knowledge advances.

Fanaticism comes out of insecurity. If a person is really rock-solid in their beliefs they ought to be able to shrug off a little questioning.

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