I Might Lose My Mind
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a press conference on September 19th, (scroll to the bottom), Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way."
Oh my fucking Jesus Haploid Christ. What kind of freedom of expression can there possibly be if you can't criticize or attack others' values and beliefs? And values and beliefs people hold are not the fucking same as the people who hold them. Ban Ki-Moon is conflating two separate things here. It is not possible to provoke or humiliate a value or a belief. Values and beliefs are not animate things. For that matter, they are not material things, but anyway. Attacking a value or belief may make people holding them feel attacked, but they are not, in fact an attack on those people.
Someone may choose to feel humiliated or provoked when their values or beliefs are attacked. I know sometimes I do; I'm human, it happens. But just because someone feels they are being attacked doesn't mean that we have to respect that feeling and agree they were attacked. When my family decides to argue politics with me and they attack Obama and his policies, for instance, I feel attacked. But they aren't actually attacking me. My feeling is wrong. I am associating myself too closely with my beliefs. How can issues even get discussed if criticism of beliefs and values is not allowed?
And what's especially vexing is that Ban Ki-Moon would actually give values and beliefs greater protection from criticism than actual goddamned people. Because virtually everyone agrees freedom of speech and expression includes the right to criticize others. I'm sure Ban Ki-Moon doesn't deny I have the right to criticize him, for instance. So it's okay to criticize an actual flesh-and-blood person, but not a value or belief? Simply because a lot of people hold it? That's bullshit. A value or belief doesn't become more true or have more value the more people who hold it. No matter how many people believe Saddam was behind 9/11, that Obama wasn't born in the US, or that Mitt Romney follows Satan because he's Mormon, it still isn't fucking true. And no matter how many people believe it, I have the right to criticize it.
I mean, a lot of Americans, perhaps even a majority, have some pretty fucked up views of Islam. They think that all Muslims are required to try to put Sharia law in place, and to kill infidels, and all sorts of other bullshit. Some Muslims believe these things are true, but most don't. But if we were to take the position that values and beliefs are sacrosanct, then we couldn't even point out what bullshit those beliefs are. Because we'd be "provoking" and "humiliating" the ignoramuses who hold them. That's bullshit too.
Many Muslims get angry and feel attacked when anyone says anything critical of Mohammed. Fair enough. I get angry sometimes when people criticize "Doctor Who" or "Community." You know what? Tough shit. My right to freedom of speech cannot be controlled by how angry it might make someone one else, even if they're a big group like Muslims, no more than anyone else's freedom of speech can curtailed because I don't like people criticizing "Doctor Who."
Religious values and beliefs are no better or worse than any other kind, no matter how fervently their adherents cling to them. They deserve no special protection. When they make truth claims, as they often due, those claims can and should be scrutinized just as any other truth claim. It may be vitally important to Muslims to believe that Mohammed flew to Jerusalem and ascended to Heaven from the Temple Mount, but that doesn't change the fact that he never set foot in Jerusalem his entire life. And it shouldn't be illegal for me to say Mohammed never set foot in Jerusalem just because it might hurt someone else's feelings.