September 30th is International Blasphemy Day. But it's not just a day to pointlessly offend people (not that I'm opposed to that), it's about activism and celebrating free speech and human rights.
Blasphemy day is almost over and I think a good time was had, but let's end this on a serious note. In 1988 a masterful writer named Salman Rushdie published a great novel called The Satanic Verses. The Supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, declared the book blasphemous against Islam and issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie. The leader of a nation went on international TV and publically called for the assassination of a British citizen. In the following years there were protests and riots against Rushdie, publishers and translators involved with the book were killed. Right here in the United States bookstores were firebombed just for having the book on their shelves. Rushdie spent much of his life in hiding and there are still bounties totaling tens of millions of dollars on his head. To this day the fatwa is still in place. The worst part of all of this was the reaction from western religious and political leaders. They placed the blame on Rushdie. He shouldn't have committed blasphemy. He shouldn't have written something that would offend religious people.
5 years ago this day, a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting Muhammad as a suicide bomber. Again riots and blood in the streets. Again public calls for assassinations. And again western leaders blamed the artists and publishers. They shouldn't have committed blasphemy. They shouldn't have published something that would offend religious people.
Last year Random House Publishing Company bought the option for a book called The Jewel of Medina. Based on the merits of the book they decided to buy and publish it. After consulting an Islamic scholar who told them it could spark the same type of outrage as seen in the Satanic Verses aftermath, they decided not to publish it. We can not read that book because it might offend Islamic extremists.
In 2009 Ireland passes a law imposing a 25,000 pound fine for blasphemy.
Free speech does not end when it reaches religion and until everyone understands that we must continue to remind them.
Krishnas - men have walked on the moon
Muslims - Jesus, son of Mary, is the incarnate son of God
Christians - Jesus, son of Mary, is not the incarnate son of God
Scientologists - L Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. Everything he wrote was science fiction
Seventh Day Adventists - the earth is 4.5 billion years old
Witnesses - trinity