Let me join the chorus of sensible voices out there in the blogosphere and reiterate my disdain of the actions of Muslims around the world right now.

As many within the Islam religion are still violently protesting the publishing of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, there are a number of people pointing out what, to me, is obvious: that freedom of speech is a fundamental right, and that anyone who tries to exercise that right while attempting to deny others their desire to do the same needs to be cut down to size as swiftly as possible. Two particular recommendations are the thoughts of my friend Stephen Graham at Grumpy Young Man, and the blog of Andrew Sullivan.

And yet it is an attitude common to a particular brand of general religion. Religious people of a certain variety (in all religions) tend to confuse two things: the importance, reverence, respect and devotion with which they approach their own religious belief system, and how they interact with the millions of other people who do not share those beliefs. Many Christians, for example, feel that they would be compromising their faith to allow anti-Christian programs to air on TV, to allow a sex shop to open in their town, or even to allow gay people the same rights in society.

So, is this really just a Muslim thing? Or does it strike at the heart of freedom of speech and freedom of religion… for all of us?

Sure, Christians aren’t destroying private property and burning flags when someone broadcasts a program that they feel disrespects Jesus Christ. But they are doing something equally as deplorable: by attempting to make it illegal to broadcast such a program, they effectively turn the nation’s law enforcement agencies on the show’s producers, and, under ultimate threat of jail, they must comply. How is that any better, any more rational, or any more acceptable a breach of free speech than the Muslim response to the Mohammed cartoon?

There’s a lesson in this for almost everyone. Being offended does not give you the right to shut down the freedom of someone else to offend you. We’ve got to protect both sides of freedom. There is an overarching, fundamental principal of good, moral political philosophy: unless someone is infringing on your freedom, you have no right to infringe on theirs.

This means that the same great principal protecting the right of a Danish newspaper to print an anti-Muslim cartoon gives Muslims the right to print an anti-Danish newspaper cartoon, or anti-anything else, for that matter.

The same great principal protecting the right of a gay couple to share their lives together in whatever way they find appropriate gives heterosexuals the right to do the same.

The same great principal protecting the right of a businessman to open a sex shop also gives a church down the road the right to open a new building.

The same great principal protecting the right of a Muslim to burn the American or British flags gives me the right to lambast and fulminate against them in this blog for being the infantile, pathetic, irrational morons that I believe they are.

What it does NOT guarantee is the ability to infringe on free speech or destroy private property. It is an abomination for you to try and prevent, through acts of law, the ability of others to peacefully pursue their own ambitions, live by their own standards, and think freely about their own code of ethics, sexuality and moral code. You cannot use your ‘rights’ to shut up someone who is offending you. And I guarantee you; if we enforced our rights as vigourously as we should, there’d be many fewer people claiming to GET offended.

I will never understand what is so difficult about this. If it isn’t the Left attempting to engineer society to fit their negative worldview, it’s the Right trying to impose their version of acceptable morality on the rest of us. Hands off, guys! Laissez-faire! All human beings own a rationality that extends only so far as our own mind, body, soul. When I tell my right arm to pick up a Coke, it does it. When I tell my neighbour’s arm to pick up a Coke and bring it to me, it doesn’t do it. And there’s a reason for that. Stop trying to force other people’s arms. Uh, figuratively. And literally.

And finally, let me weigh in on the cartoon fiasco. This is either a beautiful peaceful religion, like we’re always told, or a pack of fanatics. Or they just have a pack of fanatics that they’re still trying to kick out. But I’m telling you, folks: there are more brains in my left testicle than exists in an entire Jihadist sleeper cell. And I don’t say that to be mean, but they’re obviously bonkers. I thought the leftists were bad – these Muslims are worse. What are they doing in those Mosques, getting high? We need an immediate, thorough investigation into what they’re smokin’.

I now call for a ban on any mind-altering substances that they may be smokin’.

That stuff kills, y’ know.

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John Wright

johnwright@softhome.net