Hogan's Alley

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hitchens On l'Affair du Cartoon

If you haven't seen it already, please do yourself a favor and read Christopher Hitchens' Slate piece entitled, "The Case For Mocking Religion". Ever the provocateur, Hitchens boldly asserts that freedom to think and to speak trumps the sensitivities of those one may criticise, whether they be members of a religion or holders of any belief or rational position. To take offending one group off the table invites the proscription of any offensive speech. Those who take deeply help positions on any number of issues, abortion, equal rights, the sanctity of the Presidency, creationism, etc. are offended in America on a daily basis. And they should be, if freedom means anything.

Key quote:

The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embasy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.