Saturday, 9 January 2016

Satire can be cruel but is no excuse for murder: A reply to Nigel Biggar in The Times

Articles on the murder of the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdoe continue to appear across the media as the anniversary of the atrocity continues to be marked. The Times has published an article by Nigel Biggar  a Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in Oxford which caught my attention and irked my secularist and humorous sensibilities.

Biggar tells us on the one hand:

..freedom of speech is precious. It allows us to testify to the public the truth as we see it. It lets us criticise what's customary and conventional and established, be they beliefs or practices or institutions. It makes possible the seeds of revision, reform and progress. It enables individuals and societies to learn and perhaps change for the better.

So far so good.

However Biggar then goes on to lecture about "morals":

There remains the the moral task of exercising that freedom well or badly... by it's nature satire is unfair and uncharitable.

First of all define "morals" and tell us whose morality we are supposed to follow? I have "morals", as do others but they will differ since we are all human with different outlooks on life.

I am an atheist who believes in freedom of speech and expression. I reject the false "gods" of every religion. I reject the false prophets of communism and the demagogues of fascism, What all these ideologies and theologies have in common is the desire to remake us all in their image and suppress our basic individuality on pain of incarceration or death.

If my serious political criticisms of them and their dangerous and frankly wacky ideas offend them I do not care a jot. There is no god and I refuse to bow to their so-called sensibilities. Religion is not above criticism or satire. Did we have this debate over Father Ted, Dave Allen or All Gas and Gaiters?

Taking the mickey out of religion, it's institutions and clerics is a vital part of a our healthy culture. Humour and satire, cruel or not is at the heart of freedom of expression. Besides there is no moral duty to exclude any religion as Biggar seems to suggest.

He tells us that Charlie Hebdoe:

...held up to ridicule what every Muslim holds sacred.

So? That is the general idea. 

Why is Islam exempt from being satirised? What set of moral standards allows Father Ted to satirise Catholicism but not Islamic Clerics and their tendency to self parody.

Sheer hypocrisy that I have come to expect from the far left whose political alliances with Islam are (if haven't already) destroying progressive/left wing ideas now emanates from this Professor of "Morals". I am unimpressed, but then our seats of learning have been corrupted by the "safe spacers", the concepts of ideas being "offensive" if they challenge the preconceived notions of the activists in student unions.

Except Hate Preachers seem to speak with impunity in universities even when they preach homophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism. 

When we criticise them we are "Islamophobic".  Frankly that's bollocks.

Islam is a religion that discriminates. Against women, gays in every country in which it is in ascendancy. If you dare criticise the religion of peace or even leave and convert to another religion or worse become an atheist you will face the death penalty for apostasy.

Frankly satire is the least of our worries.

There is a violent tendency within Islam that in the modern age still dominates and must be opposed. After all the majority of people who are oppressed by this false medieval theology are Muslims.

Only the Islamic establishment has an interest in maintaining the old order. Religion gives them their "moral" authority to oppress and murder.

So Professor Biggar I am unimpressed with your lecture on morality.

My morals tell me all men and women should be free to speak, learn and rebel against false authority wherever it is or whatever form it takes.

If some old crusty men with their religious books stuck up their rears take offence I care not.

It is only their power to rule over others hearts and minds that is threatened. The sooner that is recognised by those they oppress the better.

Free speech is not negotiable. Defend it.

And here is a little satire by SyeTenAtheist which is bound to offend the easily offended.

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