Teddy-bear row protestors demand death

Weapon-wielding mobs of Sudanese protesters have demanded the execution of British teacher Gillian Gibbons.

Thousands joined together on the streets of Khartoum, some with knives and sticks, shouting for a harsher sentence for the mother-of-two jailed for 15 days on Thursday.

Mrs Gibbons, 54, was found guilty of insulting Islam and escaped a punishment of 40 lashes. But her sentence was seen as lenient by Sudan’s hardline Muslim clerics.” - http://news.uk.msn.com/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=6859416

 

Insulting Islam?   Interesting.  People all over the world have expressed outrage, rightly so, about finding somebody guilty of offending an entire religion and blaspheming by naming a teddy bear “Mohamed”.  “It is outrageous!” they claim, that naming a teddy can be an insult to Islam.  They’re right, but haven’t the governments and courts and everyone else forgotten something else:

Who cares?  Yes, who cares if the teddy is or isn’t an insult to Islam, or blasphemy to “god”, the Easter bunny, or anything else?  It doesn’t matter if this women DID insult Islam or not.

Blasphemy is not a crime.  If I want to say that Islam is an evil plagiarisation of the ramblings of ignorant primitive Jews, and not worth the paper it was written, that’s my right.  The right to freedom of speech is a corollary of the right of free expression; man must express himself in order to flourish and enjoy life.  Therefore this is a corollary of the right to exist.  Those who deny the right to free speech of ANY and EVERY subject are denying individual rights, the only real rights that exist.  Those who wantonly violate the rights of others without cause have forfeited their own, and deserve no respect or rights themselves.

Even if blasphemy was a crime, are we to believe that god isn’t old enough and tough to take care of himself?  What’s that expression: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me”.  Well, I assume god doesn’t have bones, so I imagine names will hurt him even less.  Of course if god was just the invention of primitive power-hungry bigoted men passed on by authority and force over centuries, we might expect HUMANS to get on the defensive when their boogie-man in the sky was insulted.

On a side note, this is exactly why, in principle and practice, democracy doesn’t work.  The very fact that a majority of people in a country can declare blasphemy a crime is to sacrifice the rights of free speech of one or any number of people to the majority; it is to say that a minority does not deserve to exist, except for the whim of the majority.  Not only are individual rights non-negotiable, this kind of social / ethical collectivism can only lead to moral subjectivism.  And if we’re reduced to moral subjectivism, no one has any right telling anyone what is right, wrong, or “offensive” or not.  Not even the deranged religious fanatics who want an innocent woman to die for “offending” them.

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14 Responses to “Teddy-bear row protestors demand death”

  1. Nick Says:

    Absolutely!! & Well Put!!
    Another reason why the continent of Africa will never be anything more then a mixture of third world country’s

    God Bless Ignorance and Intolerance!

  2. kevmoore Says:

    When a teddy bear causes this much hatred-its quite simply the end of the world as we know it, and I now have my suspicions, which began when I saw thousands of muslim zealots scrambling to get a piece of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s corpse in Iran many years ago, sadly confirmed. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

  3. the chaplain Says:

    I am not ready to write-off democracy. It’s flawed, certainly, but it’s generally been the most successful form of government for protecting individual rights. What do you suggest in its place?

    I am quickly becoming convinced that tolerance for religion may have to be declared a relic of the past. In this high-tech age, religion has just become too dangerous to allow it to continue to grow unchecked.

  4. evanescent Says:

    What do you suggest in its place?

    Let’s be clear about our definitions. By democracy I mean the rule by an elected party/person as dictated by a majority of the population; and by “rule” I mean the ability to pass any law within (or not within) reason.

    I am not against the principle of voting for policy in matters where individual rights are not violated.

    I reject democratic rule on principle because it necessitates the violation of the rights of at least some people for the the wishes of the majority. In short “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” is something I reject. Sorry Spock.

    What I would put “in its place” is universal freedom with constitutional guarantees, and those guarantees would be those that are necessary corollaries of individual rights. That is, the right to exist, and ergo the right to maintain one’s life by any means necessary, the right to produce and have sole ownership over the fruitage of one’s own work – ergo the right to property.

    In other words, freedom to do anything except violate the rights of another human.

    Therefore, the only moral purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Establishing law or rule by majority vote is NECESSARILY to sacrifice the rights of some people to others.

  5. Danny Says:

    try these guys views on the subject of the teddy bear
    http://thewayweseeit.wordpress.com/2007/11/30/muhammad-the-teddy-bear/

  6. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    If you assume that religion works much like a virus, then consider that blasphemy is a defensive mechanism devised to protect the virus. Religion, especially one as virulent as Islam, would dissipate and destroy itself from within, if the members (who have no choice as to membership) are allowed to question, or indeed insult, the very virus they belong to. So blasphemy laws keep the members in line by preventing them from questioning their religion.

    It’s one of the reasons why western religions are on the decline. We used to burn blasphemers at the stake. Now we tolerate it, and religion is losing its influence as a result.

  7. onset Says:

    There more to this than people being insulted by naming a teddy with the name of the Prophet. The Sudanese Ambassador to the UK has more or less admitted it on Channel 4 News last night.

    It all stems around the fact that the British Govt. threatened the Sudanese govt. with sanctions if they don’t clean up their act about the huge numbers of displaced people in Sudan.

    Sudan is nearing a failed state status, innocent people are dying all over the place. The Govt. needs to build up support from its people. The Sudanese don’t like the Brits much because of what happened over a Century ago (Look up Generals Gordon and Kitchner).

    What better way to join the people in a common cause, thereby forgetting genuine ills, than by attacked the old Colonial power?

    The teacher involved in this case has been caught in the crossfire. Two British Muslim Lords have gone over there to sort out the sorry affair.

    I don’t think Islam’s reputation will suffer as greatly as that of Sudan. They are the ones who have behaved disgracefully.

    If only they reacted with the same zeal to all the innocent deaths at the hands of the barbaic rebels as well as Govt.

    Sorry for the overlong comment but I felt it was necessary.

  8. evanescent Says:

    @ Spanish Inquisitor: you are spot on. Blasphemy no doubt functions as a defence mechanism. In a way, it’s not that dissimilar to religion’s view of suicide. After all, if you really believe you’d go to heaven after you die, you’d be fallen over other people to open an artery. How can religion counter this? Oh that’s right: make suicide an unforgivable sin.

    @ Onset: thanks for the comment, it wasn’t too long at all. I don’t think Britain should invest its time and money to try and “save” the Sudanese people, but we should clearly act to protect the interest of our citizens. Whilst barbaric cruelty and immoral judgement may be the status quo over there, that doesn’t make it right, and pandering to the warped ethical subjectivism of a backwards culture isn’t the answer either. The British government should demand the immediate release of its citizen, or Sudan should face the consequences, whether they be economic or military. And no, I’m not overacting. If governments learned that they cannot abuse the rights of people, even one person, they wouldn’t do it. At least not to those citizens of another country.

    The Sudanese government deserves no respect or tolerance in this matter. And until it changes it attitude to rights, deserves no respect on anything.

  9. 1alberich1 Says:

    If anyone still has doubts about the lunacy and inherent dangers of ALL religion (why single out Muslims when there are pretty daft Christians about as well?) let him read THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins. It’s now out in paperback, so money shouldn’t be an object.

  10. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    Excellent post!! I have just a minor point to make about your democracy comment.

    Democracy usually also entails protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. In the U.S., for example, this has, until recently, been even more important than majority rule. In fact, the U.S. is not truly a democracy at all since we have no national election. However, until very recently, protection of minority rights was a hallmark of our form of government. The founders did an excellent job on the point. The current administration is also doing an excellent job at undoing it, but that is another issue. Even there, it is not truly about majority rule. In the current case, it is actually a very vocal and loud minority taking away the rights of the majority. Ideas on how to stop it and get back on track?

    1alberich1,

    Here and there, there are some notable exceptions. Jains will not even kill an insect and walk with brooms to sweep them out of harms way. Therefore, Jains seem unlikely to be as lethal as most other religions. It is probably also why they are far less numerous. (I just love to disagree with people on minor points, it often shows how correct they actually are on the major ones. In short, I agree with you wholeheartedly, especially with respect to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion (always singular in my posts).)

    Oh, and you’re right about God Delusion as well. I see it at about $13 incl. shipping at the moment.

  11. evanescent Says:

    Hi Scott

    the US is the best form of government in the world today, and the best in the history of mankind. It’s not perfect at all, but it’s the best we’ve got currently.

    The Founders did a very good job writing individual rights into the Constitution, and limiting the power of government over the individual. This is the first example of government that was built around individual rights from the start.

    Imagine if the only laws the government could enforce were those that protected personal rights… The scope for corruption and bribery and influence would be severely limited, because what the government could actually DO would be so restricted. E.g.: passing laws against freedom of speech, or passing censorship laws, or the Patriot Act, or politicians voting themselves new payrises, or taxing more successful people more than others, or granting religions tax-exempt status, etc etc; there’s no need to make the list as long as possible, you get the point. Any democratic government that has the authority to infringe personal rights is necessarily rule by mob.

    I’ll just add, needless to say, that government should be a paid servant. It should serve people, not the other way around.

  12. The Exterminator Says:

    I’m with evan on democracy. Pure democracy, without any built-in “guarantees that trump the whims of the multitude” (I’m quoting myself), is dangerous — and a breeding ground for religious fanaticism. In America, the words “democracy” and “freedom” are often used interchangably by an ignorant public (or president), but, of course, they mean entirely different things.

  13. Darren Says:

    Evanescent,
    While I can agree with the basic premise that a nation of idiots will elect idiots, it doesn’t follow that democracy is a bad thing in and of itself. Checks and balances are necessary, of course, and enforced unwaveringly. This part of your comment above…:

    “That is, the right to exist, and ergo the right to maintain one’s life by any means necessary, the right to produce and have sole ownership over the fruitage of one’s own work – ergo the right to property.

    In other words, freedom to do anything except violate the rights of another human.

    Therefore, the only moral purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. Establishing law or rule by majority vote is NECESSARILY to sacrifice the rights of some people to others.”

    …seems to be advocating anarchy. By what mechanism would society function under the described system? I think that nations would be at serious risk of collapse, leading to tribalism and feudalism, taking us backward by 500 years or more.

    I think the problem with most forms of democracy is that the terms of government are too long, the voting process is unwieldy, and politicians are largely unaccountable once they’re elected to office.

    Further, I think the US flavour of democracy is not ideal. Proportional representation and the electoral college can make the vote of the individual irrelevant. As much as I love the US (I spend a lot of time there), I do think the UK form of democracy is superior.

  14. evanescent Says:

    Hi Darren,

    you seem to think that the only way to solve potential problems is to turn over our minds and rights to government, so it can make all the tough decisions for us.

    I am not promoting anarchy at all. It is necessary to have government to invest it with the sole authority to exercise physical force, in RESPONSE to those who initiate it first. Another job of government is to enact judicial decisions, which is what Law Courts are for.

    I think your comments about tribalism or feudalism take some justification; what makes you think this would happen at all? Individual rights would still have to be protected; government would still maintain a police force. But individual rights would be off-limits, and that requires universal freedom regardless of what the majority want. If you accept the premise of man as a moral being, individual rights are NECESSARY in social circumstances. And if you accept this, democracy is necessarily immoral.


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