Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Blasphemy Rights Day!


International Blasphemy Rights Day place every September 30th, to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllans-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The purpose of this event is to set a particular day as a day to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. The focus on 'blasphemy' is simply because it is such a salient issue, and one for which a lot of consciousness-raising is necessary.
The goal is not out to promote hate or violence. While many perceive blasphemy as insulting and offensive, it isn't about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others. The day was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist. 

RNS: Atheists campaign for 'right' to blaspheme religion
by Alfredo Garcia
Religion News Service
The Amherst, N.Y.-based Center for Inquiry (CFI) has changed the name of its International Blasphemy Day to International Blasphemy Rights Day in a bid to show that organizers are not interested in "mocking religion" for its own sake. 
CFI representatives said the name change better describes the purpose of the event amidst criticism received after last year's inaugural events. 
"There was a lot of controversy last year that we were doing what we were doing simply in the interest of mocking religion," said CFI Spokesman Nathan Bupp. "That, indeed, is not the case." 
CFI bills itself as "an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values." International Blasphemy Rights Day is part of a larger, national campaign by CFI for freedom of expression. 
The name change is meant to "emphasize the important connection that we think there is between blasphemy and the right to free speech," said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. 
Lindsay said some critics "interpreted blasphemy in its crudest form" but "blasphemy is a wider concept than that." 
Although many people scoffed at last year's campaign, he said, the center believes religion is not, and should not be, immune from criticism. 
"Religious beliefs should be on the same level of political beliefs," Lindsay said. 
This year's events are scheduled for Sept. 30, the fifth anniversary of the publication of 12 cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. It will also come about three weeks after a church in Gainesville, Fla., is scheduled to hosts its inaugural "Burn a Quran Day." 
Although Lindsay said he would "defend the right of individuals to engage in an event like that," he personally thinks it is "an inappropriate event." 
"We would certainly not condone the burning of the Quran. In fact, we believe it should be studied critically." 
Lindsay emphasized that CFI's goal is to criticize the belief, not the believer. "Blasphemy is often, unfortunately, associated with crude criticism of believers. But our focus is on looking at the beliefs," he said.  





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