Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I am writing about this very unique species of homo sapiens.....the religious fundamentalists, or fundies for short.
These religious nutters come in all shapes and sizes: From the turban wearing terrorists of Osama and his merry gang, to the hatred, gay-hating morons of Pat Robertson, these religious fanatics have only one aim in mind:
To create a New World Order, whereby or other creeds and faiths are either subjugated to the point of oblivion, or at worse, annihiliated.
HOW RELIGIOUS FUNDIES STRUT THEIR STUFF
Few would imagine that, in democratic, civilized societies, people would actually feel threatened, or coerced, to limit freedom of speech in the name of respect.
Inevitably, though, conflict arises between members of secular free press and the respective religious authorities, and from time to time, such conflicts may lead to sacrilegous outrage, the likes of which may lead to calls ranging from minor restrictions to freedom of the press and speech (Think book burning), or at the extreme end of the spectrum, calling for the heads of the purported perpetrators of the perceived blasphemy.
1. THE CASE OF SALMAN RUSDIE
One of the most publicized, if not notorious, incident, involved a certain writer of Indian origin, Salman Rushdie.
In Sep 1988, publications of his controversial work, The Satanic Verses, which, amongst other things, was a direct impliance to a little-known fact of the Islamic religion, that of the three pagan goddesses, which was written, according to an Arab historican, Ibn Ishaq (Approx. A.D 700), by Muhammad and incorporated with the Islamic religion. Muhammad himself later revoked the goddesses, claiming he was under the influence of the Devil.
This inference, it seemed, was deemed too blasphemous by the Muslims world, and subsequent violent protests erupted in many parts of the world. India, Rushdie's homeland, became the first to ban the book. Iran's Ayatollah at that time, Khomeini, issued a fatwa (death edict) and issued a bounty for his life. The book's Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was assassinated, stabbed to death at his university. Others, such as Italian translator Ettore Capriolo and publisher William Nygaard, survived assassination attempts.
Following the footsteps of India, many bookshops refused to sell Rusdie's book. Religion, it seems, has enforced its own standards on secular freethought: Respect, it seems, can only be earned through death threats, bloodshed and cold-blooded murder.
2. DANISH CARTOONS: A PENULTIMATE TEST FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Fundies from the Christian world, it seems, have caught on with this wave of self-censorship.
Of course, who would forget the ignominy of the widespread riots, protests, and blood-cuddling cries for the heads of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, for a series of cartoons mocking the figurehead and founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad. First published in September 2005, the cartoons were a relative unknown, till some disgruntled Danish muslims decided to raise a ruckus, and the subsequent violence and riots that ensued made CNN headliines in Feb 2006 (link to my article on the cartoon fracas here).
While no riots broke out in Singapore, incidents of bloggers being arrested under the bogus crime of "sedition", such as making "racist" remarks, and drawing cartoons depicting Jesus as a evil, baby-eating zombie, did make headlines.
Clearly, religious fundamentalists have stoked the flames of religious bigotry: As long as you insult someone's religion, be prepared to live under the shroud of fear. Pure, unadulterated, religious fear.
3. DAN BROWN'S BESTSELLER: DA VINCI CODE
One would admit, of course, that Christianity is one of the major, bitter rivals of the Islamic sect. However, this has not prevented Christian fundamentalist baffoons from drawing a leaf from her enemy's books: Decrying the works of Da Brown as sacrilegous, falsification and distortion of "factual" history (as if the bible was "factual" in the first place), many Christians have cried hue over the subsequent released movie of the novel, and demanding it to be banned. It seems that, Dan Brown's works are a threat to the faiths of a couple of billion Christians around the world.
Well, they did succeed in getting it banned in Manila, and parts of India, but the underlying, disturbing issue is this: Why such outbursts of rage?
Da Vinci code was written as a novel. "Factualization" is not a must for any novel, even if the book proclaims to be "based on a true story". Besides, if a mere novel-cum-movie has the impact of affecting the faiths of people, what does that say about Christianity and its inherents? As fragile as a deck of cards?
THE DISTURBING TREND: USING MASS OUTRAGE TO SUBJUGATE ART AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
In sum, these fools are demanding that, art, in any shape and form, should respect people's feelings and beliefs.
Demanding respect? Let me see.......
How does Christianity demand respect when:
1. Numerous priests of the Catholic Church have yet been committed of paedophiliac crimes against altar boys, thanks to the massive cover-up by the Catholic Church?
2. The majority of the Christian fraternity has yet to convince their leaderships that gender equality is no longer sacrilegous?
3. That condoms, birth control pills and its inherents are not the products of the devil, but painstaking research by well-meaning practioners of the medical field?
4. Recognizing the fact that gays and lesbians have every right to demand for civil liberties just like everyone else?
How does Islam demand respect when:
1. Most Islamic women in fundamentalist countries are subjugated by stifling laws and mandates that restricts their clothings and confine them to their homes?
2. Acts of terrorism being acted out in the name of Islam, but rarely have they been condemned by leading muslim clerics?
3. That instead of mass protests against American tyranny in the Guantanamo and other atrocities, that they take up issues as trivial as cartoons drawn by some Danish newspaper?
Folks, don't get me wrong. I respect people, and I respect the fact that the masses have a right to subscribe to their individual faiths and creeds.
But please do not expect me, and other infidels the likes of me, to respect your individual faiths.
I may respect the guy next to me, but I certainly wouldn't admire his dedication of flagellating himself in the name of some deity. Nor would I respect someone's ritual of praying five times a day in the direction of some obscure, desert city.
Respect is a reciprocative affair: One is only respected when one has achieved a certain status, or stature, to actually earn that respect for himself or herself.
Demanding respect through the use of violence, intimidation, and other scary tactics is definitely not my cup of tea, nor anyone else with a sane mind, for that matter.
"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-- H. L. Mencken