“Islamic governments such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which punish blasphemy against Islam ferociously, are keen for a ban on insulting religion to be written into international law,” reports The Economist in its June 4 issue.
It’s a nifty idea, to be sure. But who would actually draft such legislation? Where is the modern-day Thomas Jefferson capable of justifying such a ban in the court of world opinion?
Once again, Broad Street Review rushes in where others fear to tread. Let me take a whack at it:
Whereas religion has brought hope and comfort to billions of otherwise miserable people for thousands of years; and
Whereas hope and comfort are the only things that get most people through their woeful days; and
Whereas religion has enriched the world by inspiring or commissioning countless works of beautiful music, painting, and sculpture; and
Whereas the world’s most popular religions are based on supernatural fairy tales that can’t withstand rational scrutiny; and
Whereas religious movements that are not based on fairy tales — like, say, Unitarianism, Ethical Culture, or secular humanism — have attracted barely enough followers to fill the basement meeting room of the Rittenhouse Square branch of the Philadelphia Free Library; and
Whereas most people would rather cling to their religious myths than confront their earthly wretchedness constructively; and
Whereas the most popular religions involve ludicrous rituals and funny costumes that any sane person can’t resist poking fun at; and
Whereas people get violently angry when their cherished religious myths are ridiculed; and
Whereas violence can lead to warfare, which causes untold tragic consequences for everybody except novelists and filmmakers; and
Whereas millions of people have been killed in wars fought to decide whether God is one person or three; or whether Muhammad’s rightful successor was his father-in-law or his son-in-law; and
Whereas today's dominant religions, having improved upon their predecessors, couldn't conceivably be improved upon in the future; and
Whereas nothing’s going to change anyway; and
Whereas the function of government is to keep the lid on the status quo; and
Whereas the status quo isn’t really so bad, all things considered; and
Whereas the most effective solution to any problem is to pass a law; and
Whereas it’s easy to pass laws ordering people to shut up; and
Whereas religion is so easy to define; and
Whereas fear is an effective deterrent to harmful behavior;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that, effective January 1, 2017, insulting religion is hereby forbidden. Anyone who insults, criticizes, or ridicules religion, or even so much as giggles, winks, nudges, or rolls his or her eyes when religious leaders perform funny dances, consume strange foods, or dunk each other in holy water will be burned at the stake; or, if stakes are in short supply, pushed off the top of a tall building; or, in communities where the tallest building is a suburban ranch home, sentenced to three months of community service and/or to pay a fine not to exceed $75; or whatever deterrent seems more effective, just as long as we do something. And for the support of this legislation, we the assembled nations of the world mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, not to mention the brains that we’ve already checked at the door.