- Acid Test by Quixote - http://www.molvray.com/acidtest -

No. We should not respect other people’s beliefs

No. No, no, no. This is not about free speech as opposed to beliefs. It better not be. If it is, we’re headed straight for holy wars.

I’m talking about this sort of thing: BBC News – Film protest: Egypt PM urges US to end ‘insults’ [1].

“At the same time we need to reach a balance between freedom of expression and to maintain respect for other peoples’ beliefs.”

There is no way to “respect beliefs” and have freedom of speech. It’s impossible. Think about it, Minister Qandil, for a microsecond. If my belief is that you speak drivel and should shut up, you can say nothing. If your belief is that I speak drivel and should shut up, neither of us can say anything if we’re both going to be “respectful.” Or, if we both talk and infuriate each other, then the only way to get “respect” is to silence the other. And only the dead are silent.

The malicious film is not a problem because it insults a religion. It’s a problem because its whole and only purpose is to inflict hate on people. It is not making a political statement, it is not arguing about anything. It’s trying to spit in the eye of people it hates. That is hate speech. It is incitement to riot. It is already illegal. It is an abuse of free speech. It is not protected under free speech laws.

The only problem is the growing US inability to understand that religion is a belief system, not an excuse. We should not lose all ability to tell right from wrong just because somebody hangs a judeochristian religious label on crap.

(Although when it involves a Muslim, the FBI seems to see “material support” for terrorists where only criticism exists. One example: Glenn Greenwald [2] on the arrest of a person expressing outrage over the Abu Ghraib atrocities.)

We should take a deep breath, take our courage in our hands, and actually be responsible for some judgment calls. Avoiding responsibility with wishy-washy excuses about not having any right to judge anyone means only handing a blank check to the biggest bully to do their worst.

It’s pretty obvious where that leads. Haters incite hate and before you know it, real people with real families and real friends have died.

That’s why there are laws against hate speech. That’s why there are laws against incitement to riot.

By understanding the real reason why that sort of crap has to be squelched, it becomes clear that it is not criticism of religion which is the problem. Nobody can tell anybody to stop expressing their thoughts on a religion. They can insist on not hearing them. It’s the same as the idea behind the brown paper covers on porn mags. I don’t want to know what’s going on in the sewer of your mind, and you don’t have to tell me.

It becomes hate speech when you insist on rubbing my mind in your hated message. Then the intent is to hurt. Not to communicate. Then it’s hate speech.

That revolting film wasn’t noticed by anyone but the revolting people who made it. Pathetic, but not a huge issue. They didn’t like that. So they paid to have it translated into Arabic [3]. That is hate speech, pure and simple.

We don’t have to slavishly avoid offending every bizarre — or even ordinary — belief system on the planet. We have to enforce our own laws against hate speech and incitement to riot. As a matter of fact, the solution is to be more willing to offend beliefs. When somebody’s beliefs result in hatred and harm we have to be ready to stand up to them and say, “NO.”

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "No. We should not respect other people’s beliefs"

#1 Comment By northwestrain On 16 Sep, 2012 @ 22:20

Way back when I was in college I did a summer in Europe. There were hundreds of males from various Muslim countries also visiting Europe. No women — just a bunch of men who had no respect for Western women. Same sort of men Muslim men getting degrees from San Jose State. Respect is a two way street and the majority of Muslim men don’t respect women.

Yes — I cannot respect a religion that hates women.

#2 Comment By Branjor On 18 Sep, 2012 @ 10:13

I couldn’t agree more with both of you. I, too, cannot respect a religion that doesn’t respect me.
I’m presently reading an excellent new book on the rise of religion and how it is harmful to women’s human rights. It is Man’s Dominion: The Rise of Religion and the Eclipse of Women’s Rights by Sheila Jeffreys.

#3 Comment By quixote On 18 Sep, 2012 @ 20:00

They’re not just rude to Western women. It’s ALL women. But even so, respect isn’t really the point. It’s that we don’t need to know about their disrespect (be nice if the harassers could get that one through their concrete skulls!), and they don’t need to know about ours.

#4 Comment By Branjor On 19 Sep, 2012 @ 16:55

You’re right. They can have as much disrespect for women as they want but should not be allowed to treat us unequally or abrogate our rights in any way. I’ve said that to women who claim to be bringing up their sons to “respect” women – I really don’t care if they respect me or not, I just don’t want them to be able to do anything to me.

#5 Comment By MajorB On 02 Oct, 2012 @ 16:07

The question isn’t whether or not this is hate speech — it’s the fact that certain groups seem incapable of allowing the rest of the world to voice opinions, draw comics, or factually criticise their religion and use violence and the threat of violence to force everyone to “respect” them. They are the childish bullies in the playground of the world.