Today, September 30th, is International Blasphemy Day. It’s a big topic, even here, now, in the 15th year of the 21st century. In some countries, blasphemy is still punishable by death. We in the United States have the First Amendment to protect us, for now, but it is constantly being challenged.
As the high-profile Charlie Hebdo Newspaper attack in January of this year showed us, the spectre of discrimination and intolerance is very, very real. The same goes for the Bengali Blog Blackout of 2013. So many other examples exist. Give it some thought. Are your beliefs and convictions so fragile that having somebody question them is worth the loss of something as precious as life itself? Is any belief so sacred?
For those who feel that the existence of an International Blasphemy Day is trivial and unimportant, I give you one of my favorite quotes, from Justin Trottier, one of the coordinators of Blasphemy Day, taken from USA Today: “We’re not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that’s not an issue for us. There is no human right not to be offended.”
I personally refuse to engage in religious or political debates. That’s my choice, because I believe everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. Still, the presence of the debate offers food for thought. Where do you stand on the subject of blasphemy? And how does it affect your interactions with others within this turbulent, yet incredibly diverse, human society?
I believe freedom of expression is vital to the survival and growth of the human race. Without it, we all become silent cogs in a stagnant machine that will quickly devolve for lack of the ingenuity necessary to see it progress. Who really wants that? So, I say question everything, but do it with an open mind. Or, as Malcolm X put it, “a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth.”