This is something that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while, periodically inflamed by news from abroad. Here in the U.S. we’ve always been proud of our efforts to promote free speech, even while we don’t often like what we’re hearing. Why was it so important to the founding fathers? Why is the ability to say what you want about whom you want an inalienable right and not a privilege to be pulled away in times of war or crisis? Well, those wigged patriots knew something about human behavior and were keen historians, for they saw that without true freedom of speech, a civilization will fall. How so? Let’s look at what the enemies of free speech uses as an excuse: blasphemy.
I have many strong opinions about religion, one of the most prominent that religion is the most personal thing you have. Personal faith is something you cultivate and strengthen of your own accord or it isn’t really faith. You can’t be given faith, you must find it. We teach children this mantra: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” What then is blasphemy? Does God get offended if you call him names? If I’m signing up for a religion I’d hope the Big One in charge is above taking personal insult to blasphemy.
Blasphemy then, isn’t for the benefit of the Almighty, whoever he or she is, it’s for the benefit of the followers. But think about that for a second. How strong is your faith if it can be shaken by words? The accusation of blasphemy is a sword wielded by the terrified, slashing out into the darkness at anything that moves, even if it is a young mentally-challenged girl. To point the finger at someone else’s supposed lack of faith is a lip-quivering admission of your own weakness of belief. Ridding the world of blasphemy isn’t some moral crusade, it’s an exercise in fear-mongery and subdivision whose only endgame is a circle of red-eyed lunatics with their guns pointed at one another.
To give voice to the most wretched and miserable opinions of men is to shed light on them so they scurry away like roaches under a trashcan. The founding fathers knew that the right to free speech comes with it the right to ignore. A country with a right to free speech gives its citizens a length of rope and lets them decide whether to climb up or hang themselves. You have to wonder of the witch hunters, moral police, and self-appointed judges of What is Allowed, how much time they have left in the day for their own spiritual growth. You can’t climb up the mountain if you’re running around the base yelling at folks.
With that said, I turn to happier things: my son on a swing at the park. He has a right to happiness and exercises it regularly.