Vive Charlie Issue 2 - Page 13

The Lawyers’ Secular Society believes that legal rights and the administration of justice should be based on equality, respect for human rights and objective evidence, and that no weight should be attached to religious doctrine, belief in the supernatural or so-called cultural traditions. We campaign against any religious practices or privileges which infringe the lawful rights of others.

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brave in solving the problem.

I have already said that the problem is a blasphemy code, and that the blasphemy code comes from Islam.

But let me end on a positive note by talking about the solution. I know my speech has been downbeat. Forgive me, but as a secularist and an Armenian and a lawyer I occupy a unique position on the Venn diagram of pessimism.

How do you solve the problem of this blasphemy code? It’s so easy, it’s embarrassing. You don’t have to lobby Parliament, you don’t need to start a political party, nothing like that. There’s only one way to repeal this blasphemy code – and that’s by breaching it. Over and over and over again. Do it loudly and do it proudly, and don’t apologise. If someone asks you why you’re depicting Mohammed, say “someone has to”.

Is it scary? Yes of course it is. But the more of us who do it, the less scary it becomes. We have to spread the risk, and we have to use the power of ridicule to isolate the nutcases – and their apologists. Hands up anyone who’s planning on living forever?

If we don’t do this, I guarantee that you and your children will live under sharia law, because if we accept a de facto blasphemy code, we accept limitless harm. We accept the end of democracy, the end of everything you take for granted.

Offence? Can you think of anything more offensive than killing human beings for drawing cartoons?

Remember: people were killed for drawing cartoons.

End of moral analysis.

a whole from scrutiny. Because once we break through that barrier, we have a chance of challenging Islam’s power. And Islam does not like that.

A blasphemy code protects the religion as a whole. It protects ideas at the expense of people. The Pope is fully on board with this, by the way. He made it clear after these murders that we shouldn’t offend religious beliefs. Now think to yourself, how can the Pope look any fellow Christian in the face who is persecuted for blasphemy in an Islamic state? It’s because he doesn’t care. He would rather protect religion than people.

You might think to yourself, “come on, it’s clear that many people find these cartoons offensive, can’t we just give it a break?” Well let me tell you some other things that Islamists find offensive: uncovered women, Jews, gays, alcohol, freedom, watching football, blogging. Islamists are more outraged at blogging than flogging. As the author Bruce Bawer put it, “Agreeing to one Islamist demand merely hastens the arrival of the next.”

There’s now a clear difference between Islam and other religions, and there has been for some time. As a general rule we can talk about the other religions without fearing death. All religious privilege and power is harmful, of course it is, but we’ve just about managed to contain the other religions. It’s a constant battle, we have good and bad days, and there’s still plenty of work to do, there are some problems with Christianity in America, and there is the problem of faith schools, but we’ve more or less got the other religions in a box. We can talk about them, we can criticise them, and we can ridicule them – and that’s all the tools we need. I read a blog piece recently where someone argued along the lines of “Take away all my rights but leave me with free speech, because I’ll use that to get back my other rights”.

We have to get Islam to this point. We have to get Islam within the general gravitational pull of secularism. At the moment it’s a rogue comet. Either we shackle Islam or it will shackle us. There is no compromise here.

Blasphemy codes, and apostasy codes, are the crucial ingredients protecting Islam’s power, and that’s why they’re so strongly guarded. Take them away, and the house of cards comes down. Very quickly. And you know what they say: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

We have to be brave. We have to be brave in diagnosing the problem honestly, and we have to be