Thursday, November 28, 2013

The right to offend

A friend sent me that. He thought it might be too inflammatory for his own website, but that it would fit right in here. He's right, of course. :)

Ordinarily, I would have glanced at it, chuckled, and forgotten it immediately. It's clever, sure. Apparently, it's just a slight revision to a common Christian image, but it's clever and it's mildly amusing. That's all.

But apparently, some people are getting all bent out of shape over it. From Terminal Lance:
So I posted this image on the Facebook page...

Naturally it caused quite the disturbance in the force for faux Christians who might have assumed that all Marines are warriors of God. This image isn’t anti-Christian. People are telling me I’m “Christian-bashing,” by posting this image, and they’re fucking wrong. If you think I’m bashing anyone by posting this popular image (which I’ve seen numerous times prior to my posting), you’re an idiot.

Do you have the right not to be offended? Then my rights are being violated all the time - usually by Christians.

And think about it. This is the military. Right now our only enemies are religious nuts trying to force their own views on everyone else, religious nuts who make a point of being offended at everything. Those are our enemies. So why should we imitate them?

Now, apparently, the U.S. military has become a hotbed of Christian fundamentalism. From what I've heard, it's not easy for soldiers with other beliefs (not just atheists) when their commanding officer is a religious nut. All too often, these 'Christian soldiers' - literally - want to see the so-called war on terrorism as a religious war between Muslims and Christians.

Ironically, that's exactly how our enemies want to present this conflict, too. Funny how both sides - both varieties of religious lunacy, I mean - are in perfect agreement about that, isn't it?

But it's not true, and I'm sure the majority of Christians agree with me about that (the majority of soldiers, as well). Here in America, our troops are defending freedom of speech and freedom of religion, among other things. Our soldiers are defending your right to believe anything you want.

But you don't have the right not to be offended. That's what Muslim extremists argue (not all Muslims, I'm sure), so it's ironic to have American Christians - especially in our military - agreeing with them, isn't it?

Here, for example, are some of Ed Brayton's replies to just that argument from commenters in the Muslim Times:
The answer is simple. No human being has the right to offend another person.

Really? Because I find what you just said incredibly offensive. There are few things that offend me more than someone who blathers this kind of totalitarian bullshit. By your own reasoning, you have just committed a crime. [my emphasis]
One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. Therefore offensive ‘anything’, should NOT be allowed under the guise of freedom of expression.

In fact, it is more hate mongering than so-called freedom of expression and therefore should be made illegal and a crime for it costs many lives.

There is no other freedom being impinged. You do not have any right to go through life with no one ever saying anything that offends you. And the only thing that costs lives are barbaric authoritarians who think they have a right to kill someone who offends them.

Hell yes, we have the right to offend you. And you have the right to offend me, as you do every day with your authoritarian demands.

As I said, I think that most Christians agree with me about this. It's only the religious nuts - Christian and Muslim alike - who don't. Now, I don't mean to imply that complaining about "Christian-bashing" is the same as killing people who post cartoons you dislike, not at all. But the sentiment is the same.

Get over it! In a diverse society, people are going to disagree with each other. So what? In a diverse society, some people are going to say something you don't like. And, inevitably, some people are going to use humor to get their point across. So what?

You don't have to agree with that point. You don't have to find it funny. But you don't have the right not to get your feelings hurt.

I'm not talking about criticism. If you don't like a point of view, say so. Draw your own cartoons. Make fun of the other side, if you wish. You don't have to stay silent. Obviously, staying silent isn't anything I do, and I welcome opposing opinions here. What I'm talking about is implying that someone else should stay silent, because you're offended.

That's the path to totalitarianism. When blasphemy becomes a crime, pretty much everything the majority doesn't like will become 'blasphemy.' This isn't so much a struggle between Muslims and Christians as it's a struggle between authoritarian religious extremists and modern democratic societies. Think before you side with the former, even by implication.


jeff725 said...

For people so allegedly solid in their faith, they get awfully defensive when there is even the slightest challenge to their belief system, don't they?

On a side-note, I'm testing a new keyboard out on your blog. Forgive me, WCG, for I have sinned; I shopped at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving.

It was an emergency. In the process of cleaning before my sister and brother-in-law arrive later this afternoon, I got a bit overzealous and wiped off my keyboard with a damp towel (DOH!!). So I went up to our Wal-Mart here in Beatrice and bought a cheapie keyboard. Phew, it works.

Me without my computer is like Beavis and Butt-Head without their TV. :)

Happy Thanksgiving.

WCG said...

I know what you mean, Jeff. I'll be taking my computer into the shop next week, and I won't know what to do with myself.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.