Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Who’s Offended?

The ScoldLast night we discussed the case of an EDL member who was convicted and fined for saying things about Allah that might have offended a Muslim, if any had heard him. Earlier today we referred to the Australian government’s provisions for fighting “cyber racism”, in which anyone who feels offended by a “racist” website is encouraged to file an official complaint so that action can be taken against the offensive site.

As regular readers know, these laws against “hate speech” and “incitement to religious hatred” are almost universally used against people like us, who are labeled “racists”, “xenophobes”, and “Islamophobes” because we hold certain political opinions.

The recent EDL case is simply the most blatant example of what is happening to us. It’s becoming more and more apparent that causing a Muslim to feel offended — or even making a police officer think that a Muslim might possibly be offended — is enough to get a person arrested, convicted, fined, and possibly jailed.

But why do Muslims have a monopoly on being offended? Why don’t any other groups of people invoke their right never to feel offended, and file the appropriate complaints?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that Islam is considered a religion, and religions enjoy special privileges under most constitutions. Offending a Muslim means violating his right to free religious expression, and that is the basis for a lot of these pernicious laws. They work to the advantage of Muslims, because most Europeans (and many Americans and Australians as well) have fallen away from Christianity, and would be unable to file a credible religiously based counter-claim when Muslims chant “Death to infidels!”

Or they haven’t been able to make such claims up until now. But why shouldn’t they at least give it a try?

Atheism is, after all, a religion, despite what many of its adherents maintain. It has a creed and an orthodoxy. Its followers recite litanies and revere certain saints. They tend to impose severe punishments on those who deviate from atheist dogma. And, like devout Catholics or Salafist Muslims, they are absolutely certain about who made the world (no one) and what guides it now (nothing except the laws of physics).

So atheists, too, should have the right not to have their religious feelings offended. Their sensibilities should enjoy the same protections as those of any other believer.

Now consider what an atheist, especially a feminist atheist, would think of this:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.

Koran 4:34

Heck, I’m neither an atheist or a feminist, and I’m offended by that. Aren’t died-in-the wool feminists really, really offended?

The point is that someone’s religion — the Atheist-Feminist Creed — is surely offended by the above passage, which means it’s in violation of British law.

It’s easily available on websites in the UK, some of them hosted on British ISPs. Identical or similar wording is included in every English-language copy of the Koran sold in Britain. It undoubtedly can be found in numerous other printed materials that cite the scriptural basis for Islamic law.

My advice to our British readers is: Be officially offended!

Go down to the police station nearest you and confront Plod where he sits behind his desk eating a jam butty and reading the Mirror. Bring a copy of the Koran with you so that you can show him what offends you. Tell him that this book is hate speech! It discriminates against women! And offends your religious sentiments!

Make him earn his salary — demand the proper form, fill it out completely, and insist that the evidence (Koran 4:34) be included in his report. Return every day to determine the progress of your case. Be a nuisance!

Yes, you don’t have to tell me — I know it won’t do any good. You don’t count, because you’re white, and speak English as your native language, and are descended from racist imperialist colonial exploiters. No one will pay you any mind.

But what if hundreds of people did the same thing? What if thousands of them filed the same sort of complaint?

The oppressive system can’t hold up under a such a strain. If the native people of Britain were to stress it in this fashion, it would break down.

It’s not ever likely to happen, but one can dream…

Call it the Reverse Cloward-Piven Strategy.


Muninn said...

it's a great idea in theory, but sometimes I wonder if the modern west is too decadent for civil disobedience in any major way (I sincerely hope I am wrong).

I would guess that many people in Europe are acutely aware of the problem, but don't want rock their rapidly Islamizing boat in public to make a stand for their civilization. Many people have too much to loose to devote what is necessary to openly challenge the status quo. Look what happened to Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Geert Wilders. Living with death threats and police protection while having the wrath of the Isalmo-Leftist alliance on you is not most people's cup of tea, especially there's too much to loose and not much to gain by speaking/acting.

I hope that I have the guts for civil disobedience like this when all of this crosses the Atlantic. I can already see effects in my hometown much to my dismay.

mace said...


I generally agree with your sentiments.However,I have to point out that,although some atheists might behave as if it is, atheism is not, intrinsically, a religion.

I'm also tempted to counter attack by using the Islamist technique of 'hair trigger' offence,but surely Western liberal democracy would be undermined as a result. It's a remarkably similar problem to that posed by Communism in the 1950s and 60s,how do we resist a totalitarian ideology through democratic methods.

Our main problem is the 'fellow travellers' of the 'multiculturalist' and pc lobby, the witch hunt against 'racists'and the religious camouflage that Islam has adopted,not Moslems themselves. Without those useful idiots Islamization would not be accommodated.

G. said...

Atheism is a religion? Preposterous. There is no creed, no orthodoxy, no litany, no saint, no dogma. Where did you get this strange idea?

I simply don't believe in a god or gods (and, with four thousand religions to survey, how would I know which is the right one?). That's the beginning and end of it. Can't get any simpler.

Naturally, I am offended by cries to kill the infidel.

Zenster said...

Atheism is, after all, a religion, despite what many of its adherents maintain. It has a creed and an orthodoxy.

In as much as God's existence cannot be proven then, I suppose, an avowed belief that God does not exist constitutes an article of faith as well.

Said faith being a foremost article of any religious dogma doth marvelously transform atheism into a credo that is tantamount to a religion.

Yet one more reason why I remain a devout agnostic.

Aren’t died-in-the wool feminists really, really offended?

If they aren't now, they sure as Hell will be once Muslim men get a say over their lives.

Why feminists are not, right now, outraged to the point of inciting Bobbittesque violence against Muslim men of every stripe doesn't just defy all reason, it makes a mockery of personal integrity, coherence and rationality in general.

The point is that someone’s religion — the Atheist-Feminist Creed — is surely offended by the above passage, which means it’s in violation of British law.

Erm … doesn't advocating spousal abuse qualify from the get go? Aside from choreographing the full set of mental gymnastics required to sanctify vest bombers, his open advocacy of spousal abuse is a principal reason why Yusuf ("Beat Your Wife Lightly") Qaradawi remains on my Top Forty Hit List™.

What if thousands of them filed the same sort of complaint?

You'd have the roll call for staffing one of those "discontinuities" that El Inglés is so fond of writing about. Eh?

Nick said...

The idea of being prevented from saying something that 'offends' another is a strange one. If one is living in a way that is harmful, according to a set of beliefs that are false, then as John Stuart Mill wrote, one has a perfect right to try to persuade that person that their beliefs are false, and to try to get them to change their life around.

Addicts may be 'offended' by anyone trying to persuade them to change their thinking, but no one says that a counsellor or a doctor shouldn't be able to do just that. In fact it is generally accepted that their doing so is a good thing. (The addict's being 'offended' is neither here nor there.)

Ask the same addict five or ten years later, and they'll tell you that the person who 'offended' them actually did them the greatest favour anyone could, and in fact saved their life.

The truth is far more important and lasting than any transient emotion anyone might feel upon hearing it.

gsw said...

as a feminist atheist I am extremely offended. However, the atheism is also a religion does not work in Europe, which is why I suggested the following a few days ago:

Since I have a secular-humanist belief system, which states not only my disbelief in gods in general but my very specific belief in the non-existence of allah, I am offended by statements made referring to the "deficiency of female intelligence" and that those with a secular-humanist belief system are "animals and worse".
Claiming that these insults are backed by the statements of a man - dead for 1400 years - who supposedly heard it from an angel that a non-existent god sent is contrary to my secular-humanist belief system and therefore unacceptable and offensive.
As proved by the legally accepted belief system Buddhism, the invocation of a deity is not necessary for the validity of the belief system.

(This is a deliberate duplication).

scherado said...

An agnostic with any self-respect would not give the time of day to an atheist.

I humbly suggest that anything which requires "articles of faith" is not sufficient to designate that thing a 'religion': there are countless things which have no empirical verification and, nevertheless, are widely believed--one being Evolution.

Anonymous said...

Since nobody can't prove that I'm not God that means that I am God.

gsw, and here you are with your quasi-religious beliefs. Women and men aren't equal. This assertion is even more ridiculous than the existence of God, since it can be proven fairly fast. Also, if truth is defense, women are of lesser intelligence than men on average.

Secular universal humanism as a quasi-religion is even more insane than Christianity. But again, it's Christian ethics, after all.

Corne said...

Does being infidels, peop who do not not believe in allah, make us part of a religious ( or non-religious) group as defined by the koran? If so then anything said about infidels, the killing of us etc surely could be taken as hate speech against a group of people.

The real question is how can we consolidate the most obvious and strongest cases we can find of Islamic hate speech and hate crimes against infidels.If we can win one case in the courts it will set a precedent.
But we also need lawyers that will take on our cases.
A EU and USA team to stop Islam.

gsw said...

The term 'islamophobia', insinuating as it does a mental problem - or at least a mental deficiency - on the part of anyone unconvinced by the mohammedan rhetoric and refusing to submit to the not-so-veiled threats, is extremely offensive.

NB:There has been some puzzlement among the umma lately, as to why the Germans in particular react so allergic to the increasing number of muslims living in certain German cities.
Apart from their innate ability to recognise fascism when they see it, one of the most grievous insults in the German language is to insinuate that a German no longer has "alle Tassen im Schrank" - much as it is insulting to call an English person a liar.
The term "~phobia" is consequently equivalent to saying to a German (or Austrian) "Sie sind schwachsinnig". A big mistake!
So far, only the power of the left political PC has held them back.

Baron Bodissey said...

G. and mace --

If you think atheism is not a religion, then you have obviously never encountered an orthodox atheist who was determined to convince you of the error of your ways.

I don't proselytize, and generally keep my religious beliefs to myself. But when an orthodox atheist discovers that I do not share his faith, he tends to pull out all the stops. The attempt to convert me can become particularly intense, because I am obviously a reasonably intelligent, well-educated fellow with a broad general understanding of science, philosophy, history, literature, mathematics, etc. How could I possibly not share his belief in No-God?

Under circumstances such as these, the diatribe can go on for hours, and become quite unpleasant if I don't put a stop to it by declining further discussion.

I think that both of you might be better described as agnostics rather than atheists. Not believing in God is not the same as believing in No-God.

The former implies a healthy skepticism and a willingness to consider evidence when making deductions about the nature of being.

A believer in the latter is just as dogmatic and fundamentalist as any Bible-thumping Baptist preaching about hellfire.

Baron Bodissey said...

The point of this post wasn't really that atheists should claim their rights and be offended -- that was just a rhetorical device to illustrate the real point, which is the absurdity of passing and enforcing laws against offending others.

There was a time -- and I am old enough to remember it -- when offending other people was one of the God-given rights a man enjoyed if he lived in a free country.

When I lived in England back in the 1960s, the English were unsurpassed in the art of offending each other and everyone else. They did this through humor (or rather, humour).

That time is gone.

sulber nick said...

This 'law' is less about protecting (Muslim) feelings from hurt than it is about silencing dissent. The house of cards (i.e. the multiracial/multicultural society) has become too big for its foundations. It is now so structurally unsound (it is after all approaching its destiny) that those that helped create it and depend on it fear every breeze, no matter how slight, lest it brings it down.

Hence absurd laws like this, *devised* ostensibly to protect religious feelings from hurt yet in reality intended to inhibit criticism of Islam. The ologarchy that rules the West fears, butterfly effect-like, that a whisper will lead to a hurricane; it is fearful of the train of thought that leads from criticism of Islam to criticism of the equality idea on which the house of cards is constructed.

I know it's perverse, but I'm starting to kind of 'celebrate' (now there's a word) every time the ruling Western oligarchy conjures up another idiocy in defence of itself - that is in defence of the indefensible.

I interpret these idiocies as a sign if not of the establishment's panic then of its realisation that the game is up. It is trying to prop up that which cannot be propped up - and every additional prop they employ serves only to emphasise the unsoundness of their structure.

G. said...

Hi, Baron.

I'm pretty sure that I am an atheist (nonbeliever), not an agnostic. As I said above, I simply do not believe. I don't know that God doesn't exist, but I don't believe God does exist. I could, of course, be wrong, and would change my mind given adequate evidence—say, the resurrection of a person who has been dead for a while, or a new limb grown by an amputee. Till then, I'll just not believe—in Allah or the other gods.

I have never encountered an orthodox atheist. Once we've established that we're both atheists, there's nothing more to say on the subject.

Baron Bodissey said...

G. --

Based on your description -- that you are open to being convinced by evidence that God exists -- you are an agnostic, and not an atheist, at least under my system of nomenclature. An atheist is absolutely convinced, as an article of ontological faith, that there is no God.

It's possible that you've never been proseytized by an orthodox atheist because your non-belief in God puts you on the same side, at least in his mind. There's no need to convert you.

If you were to acknowledge being a Christian to an orthodox atheist, you'd be familiar with what I'm talking about.

Nick said...

I had an experience recently on the EDL site. A rather insistent atheist girl kept harping on about how she dealt in FACTS and was so very REASONABLE, etc etc. I explained to her that I could reel off a list of academic qualifications that outshone anything she had, and I could point to many years of work in engineering, a field which definitely deals in facts and does not tolerate an unreasonable (i.e. based on wishful thinking) approach to any given problem. She seemed hung up on the notion that because she said that she based her thinking on FACTS and believed she was being REASONABLE, she was cleverer than anyone who happened to disagree with her. It's the arrogance of such people that amuses me. She didn't seem to like it when I pointed out that she was being arrogant, when she had no right to be. She seemed to find it difficult to accept that someone with more academic qualifications, a better grasp of history, and a background in hard science, could possibly disagree with her. But it was a FACT and she just had to deal with it. I quite enjoyed the exchange really. I'm not sure she did though.

EscapeVelocity said...

Secular Hedonism is the problem, not the solution.

EscapeVelocity said...

there are countless things which have no empirical verification and, nevertheless, are widely believed--one being Evolution. --- schredo

Evolution is a religion, a metaphysical project, which requires genuflecting, and sacrements by the a preisthood(biologists). It has a Church Structure which promotes the dogma, Biology Departments in Universities, and punishes and excommonicates heretics within their ranks.

Anonymous said...


G. said...

Baron: From my computer's dictionary:

atheism: the theory or belief that God does not exist.

ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god.’

agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

I believe that God does not exist; I claim disbelief in God. I am an atheist (one "without" "god").

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

One point I made recently after the aforementioned atheist lassie insisted that there had never been any wars or conflicts anywhere on th earth, ever, fought for or on behalf of atheism, was that since she was saying that atheism had never been any help whatsoever to anyone in winning a conflict, then according to her, it couldn't possibly be any help to us now. Apparently this was not the expected response, lol ...


Atheism is, after all, a religion, despite what many of its adherents maintain. It has a creed and an orthodoxy. Its followers recite litanies and revere certain saints. They tend to impose severe punishments on those who deviate from atheist dogma. And, like devout Catholics or Salafist Muslims, they are absolutely certain about who made the world (no one)

1.) What is your definition of "religion"? They do tend to vary a lot, but most definitions generally encompass supernatural beliefs and an inherent moral philosophy, neither of which atheism entails.

2.) Who are these saints you are referring too? I suppose you mean the likes of Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and other vocal critics of religious belief. I don't believe any of them have been canonized, nor does anyone consider them holy.

3.) Certainty about the non-existence of God has never been a prerequisite for atheism. Some atheists are certain that God doesn't exist, others don't know if he exists, but assume he doesn't for lack of a reason to believe, and some isolated tribes of people are simply atheists because the notion of God has never been introduced into their culture. It is in my personal (albeit anecdotal) experience that most atheists are in the 2nd category.

If you think atheism is not a religion, then you have obviously never encountered an orthodox atheist who was determined to convince you of the error of your ways.

So being passionate about your views makes it a religion? By that rather broad definition, every political belief is a religion... so sayeth a high-priest of the religion of anti-Islamism.



I probably should of read the rest of the posts before responding. But anyway:

Based on your description -- that you are open to being convinced by evidence that God exists -- you are an agnostic, and not an atheist, at least under my system of nomenclature. An atheist is absolutely convinced, as an article of ontological faith, that there is no God.

Well, your nomenclature is rather different from others on this issue. Heres the terminology I here bandied about in philosophical circles:

Positive Atheism/Strong Atheism = Belief that God doesn't exist
Negative Atheism/Weak Atheism = Disbelief in the existence of God
Positive Agnosticism/Strong Agnosticism = Belief that it is impossible to determine whether God exists
Negative Agnosticism/Weak Agnosticism = Uncertain about the existence of God, but allows for the possibility that it could or could not be proven to exist.
Explicit Atheism = Being conscious of the concept of God, and not believing in it
Implicit Atheism = Never been exposed to the concept of God, therefore being an atheist by default.

To a lot of people these distinctions might seem pedantic, but it does help clarify some distinct notions.


Baron Bodissey said...

B.B. (or Mr. X) --

Yes, those are good definitions. Very helpful. They're better than mine -- they clarify the issue.

G. --

The fervor of a proselytizing atheist is indistinguishable in tone, emotion, and force from that of a proselytizing Christian. He is absolutely determined to convince the believer to give up his belief.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I say it's a duck.

månesteiner said...

I liked X's definitions. Not sure where I fall on his list though.

I think the agnostic vs. atheist distinction is pointless. Yes, the atheist is saying absolutely that God does not exist and the agnostic is withholding judgement. But I think that the difference between those two views misses a more important point.

I'm an old school science guy. I have no religious beliefs. I think most people would call me an atheist. I never call myself one, nor do I even think of myself as one. I'm not antagonistic to religion. I have no desire to persuade anyone on religious matters. I'm grateful to have grown up in a Christian country. I've just never been persuaded to the religious point of view. I love Pat Condell's videos, but I've never been charmed by his vehement hatred of religion.

I think the distinction between agnostic and atheist is a distraction. We have two categories of propositions, empirical and logical. Only logical statements can be proven. The empirical ones are always probabilistic .

Gather evidence, form theories, that's all we can do.

It terms of everyday practical life, at a certain probability level, I don't know, 99.99%, we assign a proposition a truth value, true or false, and confidently behave as if the matter were settled. It's just the only way to live. Otherwise, how could we build bridges or airplanes.

But if we pause and think about it, we know that we're still gambling with the universe when we ascribe a truth value to any empirical proposition. We rely on our best understanding of the laws of nature and a few hundred billion examples which, so far, confirm our hypothesis. But it's still not proven.

Jumping out of an airplane at 60,000 feet without a parachute is fatal. I think we're beyond the 99.99% probability level on that one. So I'll put that in the "True" column. It's still only probable, but I'm going to live as if it's "True" rather than be a purist and claim agnosticism on that.

All that the agnostic/atheist argument does is quibble as to where to adjust the slider on the probability scale. The atheist mistakenly believes that some empirical claims are 100% and the agnostics want to adjust the probability a little lower to perhaps 99%. I don't care where you put the slider. All empirical claims are probabilistic.

Pick your comfort level, assign a truth value and then act accordingly. That's how we have to live. Always stay open to revision.

For atheists who believe that the matter is settled on any empirical claim, including God's existence, then they're just being lazy. If an atheist believes that God's non-existence is a closed matter, then there's at least 140,000 other propositions which they believe are closed, which aren't.

I might fit the definition of an agnostic on the existence of God but I wouldn't describe myself that way. Anyway, by that definition I'd also be an agnostic on surviving a Swan dive into a active Volcano. The agnosticism versus atheism argument misses the bigger picture I think.

gsw said...

"Secular universal humanism as a quasi-religion"

tut,tut - there is a HUGE difference between a "quasi-religion" and a belief system.
While I believe that the sun will not explode in my lifetime, it is not a dogma because, who knows, it might. And who knows, you might be god, but who cares?

As to the I.Q. bell curve, there are a few more men than women in the upper 0.05% and lots more men in the lower 2%. It averages out. Truth is only a defence when it is true.
Women and men aren't "equal" if you mean the same. Never were, never will be. (Viva la Difference.) But then - nobody is - every one is different.

However, the islamic doctrine claims that all men are more intelligent than all women, which is of course utter rot and only claimed to enable them to enslave their women.

One thing is really beginning to piss me off, people like yourself who talk about secular being based on christianity.

A secular humanist is someone who believes that
1) human differences do not justify slavery. (humanist)
2) religion has no place in government. (secular)

Let us hope you receive a dictionary for the solstice festival.

gsw said...

Oh dear - atheist, agnostic, non-theist, pagan, kufir etc.

One thing we can all agree on:

Is there any one here in favour of a theocracy?

Freyja's cats said...

Hail to the Einherjar in Valhalla!

Bring me my sword, spear and shield!

Save me a place at the table, Odin. And lots of mead.

Polytheist, here, to the core...

IMHO, Europe needs to turn back to the Old Gods. We need to re-cultivate that old warrior spirit.

When Charles the Hammer defeated the Muslims at Tours, he still had plenty of the old Frankish barbarian spirit in him. He might have been a Christian, but Old World Christianity had not yet turned the men of Europe into timid limp noodles.

See Charles Martel

Stuff THAT in your keffiyeh, O Sons-of-Allah!

scherado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scherado said...

Dear månesteiner,

You are agnostic, an agnostic. I've settled it for you.

Your thoroughgoing description and defense of agnosticism out of your right side of mouth is inspirational when contrasted with the claims of pointlessness out of the other side.

Nick said...

I think the point would be that many atheists (in my experience) are deeply 'offended' whenever they come upon someone who disagrees with them. Or try telling one of them that their child will be acting in a nativity play at school this Christmas, and just watch the steam come out of their ears.

And all too often (in my experience) such people do not behave in the same way towards Islam. They just don't. In fact all too often they'll leap to its defence. I've seen this several times. Despite the claims that they're thinking rationally, employing reason, dealing with evidence, blah blah blah, their actual thought processes are irrational, and quite inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

gsw, actually, besides the IQ distribution being different, the averages are too. And equal means the same. Maybe my dictionary is wrong.

And the reason why I call progressivism a quasi-religion is because it's Christianity with the theistic elements removed from it. Same universal brotherhood idiocy, same egalitarian stupid mindset, same inverted ethics and slave morality. Secular humanism and Marxism as cousins and Christianity is their grandmother.