NOTE: Although feedback has been mostly positive, I have my misgivings about this post (as usual.) I don’t think I was as fair as I tried to be. Please just take it as another viewpoint among many different views available to you. Our right to access differing views, and to present our own, must be actively protected.
As a rule I don’t talk about current events on this blog, because they’re ephemeral, and I want readers to be able to draw something useful from every article I write, even if they read it years later.
Unfortunately, terrorism and threats to free speech aren’t strictly “current” events. They are also yesterday’s news, and will be tomorrow’s news too.
I’m not a journalist, and I have a lingering discomfort about publishing this post. But I guess I was more uncomfortable at the thought of not publishing it. Whenever people are murdered for expressing their opinions, the writers and creatives who survive them tend to want to say something about it, as we’ve seen. Bless them.
My hesitation wasn’t because I’m afraid of being shot, or flogged one thousand times, but because I’m always afraid of being wrong or unfair. This is a hyper-sensitive issue, and I want to be as fair and straightforward as I can.
Regular readers know I think all organized religion is fundamentally scary. It is terrifying to me that billions of people believe ancient books can give them absolute certainty about the fate of humanity, and that morality is a matter of obeying these books, rather than thinking rationally about the harm caused by our choices.
It is taboo to say that one religion is scarier than another, but there are noticeable and measurable differences between our religions, regarding the prevalence of certain beliefs. I am more worried about Islam in its current state than, say, Buddhism, as politically incorrect as it is to say so. But I think I have good reasons.
For what it’s worth, what scares me most about Islam isn’t terrorism, but the non-violent threat it currently poses to freedom of speech in Western countries. Polling data suggested that more than 75% of British Muslims believed that the Danish cartoonists should have been prosecuted for drawing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005. Flaming embassies aside, if that figure is even close to the truth, that is a genuine threat to freedom of expression (but by no means the only one) and we deny it at our peril. Read More