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One rule for Jesus, another for Muhammad?


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#1 troy

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

Simple things can be so difficult. Take equality, for instance. Britain now has an Equality Act, to promote that good thing. But when you start looking at what it means in practice, matters get more complicated.

I've been thinking about this because of some media reaction to a conversation I had recently with Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, for our Oxford University project on free speech. After we talked about the BBC's broadcast of Jerry Springer: the Opera, which provoked angry protests from evangelical Christians because the satirical musical depicted Jesus as a petulant overgrown baby in a nappy, I put it to him that the BBC wouldn't dream of broadcasting something comparably satirical about the Prophet Muhammad. He replied: "I think essentially the answer to that question is yes."


Mark Thompson talks to Timothy Garton Ash
This was picked up, first by the Daily Mail, then by the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and at least one Christian website, with headlines such as "BBC director general admits Christianity gets tougher treatment" (Telegraph) and "Should Christians kill Mark Thompson?" (Spectator). On Mail Online, a reader identifying him or herself as D Acres of Balls Cross, West Sussex, posted the comment: "This man is disgusting. He should be taken out and put up on a cross. That would teach him not to disrespect this country and its Christian faith." Plainly a fine patriotic Christian, Outraged of Balls Cross.

I suggested to Thompson that this asymmetry in the way broadcasters (not just the BBC) treat Islam as compared with other belief systems was a result of the threat of violence from Muslim extremists. He replied: "Well clearly it's a very notable move in the game … 'I complain in the strongest possible terms', is different from 'I complain in the strongest possible terms and I'm loading my AK47 as I write'." That's a frank acknowledgment of one of the biggest threats to free speech around the world today. Classic American free speech literature talks of "the heckler's veto". These days, we face the assassin's veto. Such violent intimidation must always be resisted. To yield to it ultimately encourages others to threaten violence. If only we atheists and Christians were credibly thought to be loading our AK47s, more "respect" might mysteriously follow.

But in his very thoughtful response,Thompson mentioned two other reasons for asymmetric treatment. First, whereas Christianity is the "broad-shouldered", established religion of the majority in Britain, Islam is that of vulnerable ethnic minorities, "who may already feel in other ways isolated, prejudiced against, and where they may well regard an attack on their religion as racism by other means".

Second, speaking as a practising Christian himself, Thompson said you have to understand the emotional force of "what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief". Religious beliefs cannot simply be compared with rational, propositional statements, such as 2 + 2 = 4. Indeed, "to a Muslim and potentially also to a Christian, there are certain as it were quasi-blasphemous things or blasphemous things that could be said which would themselves feel to them very like a threat of violence".

Now, to be clear, I don't think these two further arguments justify the asymmetry. I think the BBC should feel free to air something equally satirical in relation to Islam – which, by the way, would not really be satirical about the religion, since Jerry Springer: the Opera was a satire on the Jerry Springer show and US popular culture, not on Jesus Christ or Christianity. And I do think the main reason the BBC, and most other media, are more nervous around Islam is the threat of violence.

Yet his two other arguments deserve to be engaged with seriously, and they both ultimately come back to equality. It is not self-evidently wrong or illiberal to suggest that members of disadvantaged minorities should be treated with special sensitivity. Equality does not mean, for instance, that Oxford University admissions interviewers, when confronted with two candidates, one the son of poor immigrants who has struggled through a failing comprehensive school, the other the Etonian son of a millionaire, should say: well, Sunder has worse exam grades and performed worse at interview so obviously we must admit David. So the right questions here are: is it true that Muslims still constitute a vulnerable, disadvantaged minority in the UK? (To complicate things further that might be true in aggregate, but not in Bradford.) And if so, is this the right way in which to display special sensitivity?

His point about the special character of religious beliefs also brings us back to equality. Empirically speaking, it is undoubtedly true that many people care especially strongly about their religious beliefs. But those are not sufficient grounds on which to privilege faith over reason. Suppose I feel as passionately about the scientific reality of evolution as literalist Christians or Muslims do about creation. Why should public policy or a public service broadcaster protect their feelings more than mine? Britain's Equality Act suggests they should not, with this glorious definitional contortion: "Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief."

Difficult though it is, we must never abandon the quest for equal liberty under law. Everyone is entitled to what the philosopher Ronald Dworkin calls "equal respect and concern". That does not mean treating everyone exactly the same in every circumstance. But whenever you hear anyone (including me or you) arguing for unequal treatment of any kind, shine the searchlight and take a closer look. The same evangelical Christian who complains of unequal treatment from the BBC will vociferously oppose gay marriage. The same European liberal who argues passionately that newspapers should be free to publish cartoons of Muhammad will defend laws criminalising genocide denial. Double standards are the warning signals of a free society.


http://www.guardian....nother-muhammad
Atheism is merely absence of belief.
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Atheists believe free will is illusory and non atheists believes death is illusory.

#2 cocojoe

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:16 PM

Ban all religion and burn all religious literature, bit extreme i know but its all bollocks and causes more grief than good. :russian:

Edited by cocojoe, 15 March 2012 - 09:45 PM.

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#3 distracted

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 09:43 PM

I think there must be more to it than the religion itself... I know muslims that would react exactly the way a british christian would: benignly... consider Behold the Man by Moorcock, that is insulting to Christians and Muslims, as both value Jesus but not a whisper... the crap comes from the uneducated and uninformed just like the tits in the US burning korans... sod banning religions, lets just ban tit heads

#4 Hiphip

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:02 PM

... consider Behold the Man by Moorcock, that is insulting to Christians and Muslims, as both value Jesus but not a whisper...


A great work that is essential reading.

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#5 _Dashboard Dice_

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:23 PM

insulting to Christians and Muslims,


A simple chat about Darwin can do that.

A leap of faith is insanity, especially in this day and age..

#6 troy

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:38 PM

I think there must be more to it than the religion itself... I know muslims that would react exactly the way a british christian would: benignly... consider Behold the Man by Moorcock, that is insulting to Christians and Muslims, as both value Jesus but not a whisper... the crap comes from the uneducated and uninformed just like the tits in the US burning korans... sod banning religions, lets just ban tit heads


We examined the educational backgrounds of 75 terrorists behind some of the most significant recent terrorist attacks against Westerners. We found that a majority of them are college-educated, often in technical subjects like engineering. In the four attacks for which the most complete information about the perpetrators' educational levels is available - the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the 9/11 attacks, and the Bali bombings in 2002 - 53 percent of the terrorists had either attended college or had received a college degree. As a point of reference, only 52 percent of Americans have been to college. The terrorists in our study thus appear, on average, to be as well educated as many Americans.

The 1993 World Trade Center attack involved 12 men, all of whom had a college education. The 9/11 pilots, as well as the secondary planners identified by the 9/11 commission, all attended Western universities, a prestigious and elite endeavor for anyone from the Middle East. Indeed, the lead 9/11 pilot, Mohamed Atta, had a degree from a German university in, of all things, urban preservation, while the operational planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, studied engineering in North Carolina. We also found that two-thirds of the 25 hijackers and planners involved in 9/11 had attended college.

http://www.nytimes.c...n/14bergen.html
Atheism is merely absence of belief.
S. Pinker
Atheists believe free will is illusory and non atheists believes death is illusory.

#7 distracted

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:29 PM

"IQ test" the mobs burning flags outside emabassy's etc and I doubt it would be different from the average in any city population, suggesting that those existing inside tightly closed small collectives able to plot bomb making, strategise, fly planes, etc are in some way intellectually connected with the mob is wrong though, human selection is at work there... the general muttered threat of intolerance is not from terrorist cells, it is from the general population and there is no stats on their education levels but they are uneducated in how to deal with other peoples opinions as a collective and uninformed in how express their opinions proactively

Edited by distracted, 15 March 2012 - 11:29 PM.


#8 r1zla

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:44 PM

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_law

Enforcement of law and order is what it has historically been about. Or more bluntly control over people, lands and wealth. Wishfully thinking it's a moral guide to whats right and wrong.

In my opinion there is no place for it in democracies as it has been taken over by governments, banks, police and courts. Might still be a place for it in undeveloped countries where there is lawlessness but personally i think it has outrun it's use worldwide.

#9 HvyFuel

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:38 AM

withnailed def not worth it
Nine fucking years without prosecution. Cantheism's just bollox yeah?
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#10 Sasquatch

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:53 AM

Surely the only solution to this issue is for the vast majority of people in this country who are not feeble-minded gobshites to just start pro-actively asserting the fact that god doesn't actually exist?

I've had it with these muppets skewing public policy debates, demanding preferential treatment and tax exemption just because x-thousand years ago some or other bearded loon said and did something which has been completely misinterpreted by history ever since. Mohammed was a warlike temporal lobe epileptic, Christ was some sort of political player who usurped an originally Egyptian cult led by John the Baptist and didn't die on the Cross and the Old Testament prophets were so long ago nobody has a fucking clue who they really were anyway.
Public debate on religion is hamstrung by political correctness, multi-culturalism and exceptionalism (promise no more -isms) and it just won't do. The Abrahamic religions seethe with a mutual distrust of each other and a common subordination of women and we don't need any more hate-politics than we've already got.


“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus. Beat that you silly hatted dress-wearing sky pilots. Even without the past hundred years of cosmology there is nowhere left to move the debate's goalposts to and it's high time we all got up and said so.

Here endeth the rant, he says while humming that naa nuuu naaaa organ music line you get at the end of religion-themed comedy sketches.

Edited by Sasquatch, 16 March 2012 - 04:57 AM.


#11 The Black Sheep

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:01 AM

To yield to it ultimately encourages others to threaten violence. If only we atheists and Christians were credibly thought to be loading our AK47s, more "respect" might mysteriously follow.

:confused:

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#12 kgb

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:01 AM

good luck with this thread!!!
mistakes are part of the learning process!http://kgbeans.co.uk/

#13 Arnold Layne

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:02 AM

Ban all religion and burn all religious literature, bit extreme i know but its all bollocks and causes more grief than good. :russian:

Yeah that'll help! :doh:
A good example of what I was posting about yesterday, really.

I take it you've read all the literature, in order to reach your lucid and intelligent appraisal?

No, thought not.

#14 cocojoe

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:14 AM


Ban all religion and burn all religious literature, bit extreme i know but its all bollocks and causes more grief than good. :russian:

Yeah that'll help! :doh:
A good example of what I was posting about yesterday, really.

I take it you've read all the literature, in order to reach your lucid and intelligent appraisal?

No, thought not.

Alright Arnie, ok so my post was a bit on the provocotive side, but i'm not a believer in God and no i have not read all the literature,so you are correct with that assumption, well done. But where is this god when people need him most?
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#15 MD84

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 10:18 AM



Ban all religion and burn all religious literature, bit extreme i know but its all bollocks and causes more grief than good. :russian:

Yeah that'll help! :doh:
A good example of what I was posting about yesterday, really.

I take it you've read all the literature, in order to reach your lucid and intelligent appraisal?

No, thought not.

Alright Arnie, ok so my post was a bit on the provocotive side, but i'm not a believer in God and no i have not read all the literature,so you are correct with that assumption, well done. But where is this god when people need him most?
:smokin:



who said its his job to jump in whenever we fuck things up? which is all the time!!!


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