Obey No1kinobe


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Should blasphemy be outlawed by the UN?

Some Islamic countries are pushing for ''international legal regulations against attacks on what people deem sacred''


Essentially this is making protection from blasphemy a human right. Making it a right not to be offended by someone critiquing or mocking your religious views.

Essentially, if you hold genital mutilation of children sacred or any other harmful religious belief sacred it is proposed to make it illegal to condemn this.

I hope Australia does not sign this.

What a clash of values. What a clash of civilisations. Western enlightenment values versus medieval religion.

I suggest most human rights are human constructs that are granted rather than intrinsic. They aim t improve the human condition. Also none are absolute. The most difficult ethical issues often involve a clash of rights or values. Freedom of religion to lock up women versus equal rights and freedom of movement. Freedom of speech versus slander and liable.

I support individual freedom of religion up to the point it harms other people or when people try and force their religious taboos on others who do not believe. If there is a secular argument in parallel fair enough.

I suggest the world is better off allowing blasphemy, allowing religion and theocracies to be criticised or mocked. While I don't see the point of mindless provocative put downs, religion should not be off limits.

Perhaps the trickiest aspect is where the comments have a rascist aspect to them.

Isn't it interesting how freedom from religious insult is now being positioned by some alongside the right to life, freedom from slavery (what if slavery is sanctioned by your religion?), freedom from torture, equality before the law.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief (not in some religions),

Freedom of opinion and expression - not if this gets up.

What do you think

  • Sep 29 2012: No, it should not be outlawed. John Locke was right. We are all given inherent rights as individuals which cannot be taken away. These rights are also in some sense responsibilities. Freedom of thought, that is how God made us. He gave us our unique individual brains and expects us to make wise decisions while here on this Earth.

    God (or whatever higher power you may believe in) gives us the ability to decide what we are doing, and this is why we are responsible for our actions. Free speech goes along with that freedom of thought. The freedom of thought cannot be removed by surgery or any other means. We have personal responsibility for our actions and it is precisely because that is how God made us.

    To outlaw speech is ridiculous. People try to offend me everyday and I can simply ignore them. What cannot be ignored is a man with a holy book in one hand and an AK47 in the other.

    Whether you believe in God or not, it is certainly the case that John Locke is essentially correct that we are born as free thinking beings, that this gift is inherent to our very being as organisms, cannot be revoked, and that it implies a lot of personal responsibility.

    I am sorry for those who may be offended by various statements that are made by careless people. That is the nature of the world in which we live. One must decide if it is so important that it is worth dieing for, or whether it can simply be ignored.
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    Sep 26 2012: Blasphemy is freedom of speech. Outlawing it is a gross violation of fundamental human rights.

    Say what you need to say; as long as you are ready for the wages of your words.
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    Sep 26 2012: Hi Obey.
    I'm with you on this one. We're going to end up with an utter mess if every individual has his own file of 'human rights' granted to him/her regardless of the effects on the rest of society. If your god isn't big enough to handle a bit of criticism, then you've got the wrong god. At the moment we are in danger of allowing the threat of terrorism to get this sort of nonsense through; that is the top of a very slippery slope.

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      Sep 27 2012: Thanks peter.

      Also like your comment - if your god.......

      I guess it is peple taking offence.
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    Oct 2 2012: Moving forward in positive direction, I suggest the UN categorically make forced-religion criminal. How can anyone tell a fellow person that because of this or that including being at a particular jurisdiction one must follow this or that religion and cannot practice another or even NONE??!!
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      Oct 3 2012: Hi Philip, I find religious indoctrination of children sad.

      I'm not sure if the answer is to try and outlaw it.

      Death for apostasy is against the UN Human rights and I support that.
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    Oct 2 2012: This is not a matter of opinions or popular vote. it is unfortunate that the notion of individual rights is so badly understood and therefore so poorly defended. Rights are not a matter of public opinion.

    The right to free speech derives its meaning from the fundamental right to life--inextricably. The universal human right to life implies that we have the right to act in furtherance of our survival, unhindered by anyone else's coercion. It means we are owners of our lives and can choose to dispose of ourselves or work towards survival and flourishing.

    Since humans live in a material world, all actions taken to further our survival is taken materially in this actual world. Which means, we have the right to free actions that fall within the purview of our pursuit of the right to life (realize that all humans have this, hence, encroaching on another person's range of free actions is a violation of that person's rights).

    This is the right to liberty -- the right to freely pursue actions.

    Free speech is a constituent of free actions or free expressions. It can be as basic to our survival as saying: "I need food, I am starving" to as distant from survival and closer to intellectual self-actualization and flourishing as saying: "I don't think Muhammad was a good man; in fact, he was a pedophile to have consummated a marriage with a 9 yr old."

    Now, since only *actions* can carry the weight of force, not speech, all speech is necessarily protected by the right to liberty in the service of right to life--so long as this speech-act does not violate the rights to life, liberty, and property of someone else.

    (Crying fire in a theater is a violation of the property rights of the theater owner, a misuse of his premises in a way that jeopardizes his property, his wealth, and his earning potential--not to mention the right to life and liberty of the movie-goers.)

    There's much more to this theory of universal human rights from natural law. Please read Ayn Rand.
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      Oct 3 2012: Hi Jerry, thanks for the well thought out comment.

      I agree we should not overreact and undermine a right just because some are offended and react violently.

      However, I suggest human rights are human constructs and are not absolute and we need to be able to argue the benefits of these and where the limits are and why.

      I suggest considering what any number gods divinely command without secular benefits as part of the mix is very dangerous
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    Oct 2 2012: If your diety needs the protections of our Courts then it should have to appear in person to answer the charges against it.
    • Oct 2 2012: I completely agree: if Allah has a problem with me blaspheming against him then he can come down here and tell me so himself. If he can't be bothered to do that then I can't be bothered to care whether he even exists or not.
  • Oct 2 2012: Thank you for a thought provoking question, Obey. Mere mortals will regard this nonsense as utterly unsustainable. The author, Salman Rushdie, was pilloried by the supporters of Islam. A fatwa calling for his death was issued (what an exemplar for an all-loving Allah!) and sadly this fatwa has been reiterated again recently; with hardly any comment being passed in our media.

    So let me see if I have this right... Islam states this: don't say anything offensive about Islam and if you do, it is right (and just?) that the supporters of the Islamic belief system seek to kill you because that is the will of Allah.

    The UN have no business giving any support to the people who claim that Islam is a valid religious belief. There is no proof that any belief relates to a true and only one god. The brutality portrayed by religious extremists (of any flavour) is a shocking testimony to this question of which deity is the approved god to which we should (implied) all pay obeisance.

    The superstition and subterfuge inherent in all religious belief systems leaves me incredulous. If people find comfort in their personal religious fervour, I have no problem with that. The second it impinges on my ability to live my life in peace and harmony with my neighbours, it is a step too far. Belief has no business being encapsulated and enshrined in law.

    The UN was not a body for which I have ever had the chance to lobby or vote for; nor do I have any say as to who inhabits its halls and offices. I do not recognise it as a legislative body with the concomitant powers to legislate for me and my life... WITHIN ANY SPHERE OF MY EXISTENCE!
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      Oct 3 2012: Thanks very much Jeff.

      I agree that offensive speech is no excuse for violence. That violence should be condemned more than words.

      In practice it may be a balancing act because why we might think most or all religions are man made superstition people hold these beliefs firmly as part of their identity. I don't think we should provoke for no reason, but we should never bow down to religious oppression. We should be free to offend, even if we don't pointlessly provoke.
  • Oct 2 2012: On the contrary, the UN should promote blasphemy.
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    Sep 30 2012: Religion is personal, so it should matter what others say about an individuals beliefs. And, we must remember that these are nothing more than beliefs. There is no evidence that any god(s) exist.
    That being said, what would happen if tens of thousands of people posted videos and cartoons lampooning religion's that violently protested such acts, and even threaten death to the individuals that dare to do such things. Can a religion hate everyone?
    Perhaps this is the answer. Backing down in the face on such threats will only allow them to continue and to go stronger.
  • Sep 28 2012: Actually, it would make an interesting case to outlaw blasphemy. Muslims aren't allowed to say anymore that Jesus was no son of God. Jews are not allowed to say anymore that the Saviour should still come. Christians can't deny any more that Mohamed was a real prophet. Neither three of these can state that Hindus worship false Gods.

    So a consequent ban on blasphemy would practically lead to a ban on at least the three big monotheist religions: Jewism, Christianity and Islam. All three claim that they are the only true believers, and all others worship false Gods. Looking upon it that way, outlawing blasphemy suddenly becomes a rather attractive idea to heighten our chances for world peace :-)

    On a serious note though, the whole idea of outlawing blasphemy is close to the definition of hypocrisy. The people yelling the loudest for this, are exactly those that show the least tolerance towards other religions. You can't have it both ways, but many people still try...
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      Sep 30 2012: I wonder how that would play out.

      I guess many Muslims are happy not to criticise other religions if it meant protecting their own.

      In the recent violent Sydney Muslim extremist protests they went out of their way to criticise Christians and offend others supporting beheadings and pointing out our dead are in hell while theirs are in paradise. Hypocritical.
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    Sep 28 2012: let me rephrase the question this way:

    what should be higher on UN's "what to ban" list?

    A, blasphemy
    B, stoning
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      Sep 30 2012: C. Genital mutilation
      D. Killing homosexuals
      E. killing witches
      F. Killing people who work on Saturday
      G. Killing obnoxious children
      H. Killing newly married wives who not virgins
      I. Genocide of other tribes living on the land your god has promised to your tribe
      J. Slavery endorsed by scripture
      H. Treating women as chattel
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    Sep 27 2012: Blashphemy should be out lawed for sure that's my feelings.....but who is UN to do that?
    What UN did so far other than just taking care of interests of BIG BOSSES?

    Agree with @ Justin Elkin about use of "common sense" (seems very uncommon though).
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      Sep 30 2012: Hi salim, a contrary voice at last.

      Why do you think blasphemy should be outlawed? Why should religious sensibilities outweigh freedom of speech?

      Are you not worried about the possible outcomes. No terrible acts such as killing aposites or genital mutilation could be criticised if they were positioned as part of religious beliefs. Theocratic governments could be protected from criticism.
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        Sep 30 2012: Hi Obey
        I consider Religion to be a private matter at individual level.....so there shouldn't be any such law at country or state level which has all sorts of people with different belief system and it should be inclusive to the diversity

        While I honor one's belief, my argument to someone who is favoring "Blashfemy" is that, if someone has done something so wrong against GOD let HIM take the revenge for that.

        On the other hand , in the name of "FREEDOM of SPEECH" I wholeheartedly condemn all hate speeches and intensional attacks on others belief system.

        Honor Killing , Genital Mutilation etc as far I know & feel is part of cultural practicee , which also should be stopped in this era...
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          Sep 30 2012: Hi Salim.

          A hypothetical so I can understand where you're coming from: if your neighbor mocked your religion/prophet and so on, and was stoned to death by an angry mob would you be satisfied with that and understand that your neighbor received justice for his blasphemy? This is to ignore laws and such, just a question about how you personally would feel about that situation.

          Do you wish, for the sake of the greater good (billions of people living today), that your leaders would do more to live by the motto 'live and let live' whereby they allow HIM to take care of the business of retribution; and at the same time Muslims are allowed to practice the virtue of tolerance? Or, help me better understand, is it that if your leaders and Islamic people in general, don't react to perceived 'blasphemies' than those who fail to react are in violation of Islamic principles and their souls are than at risk???
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        Oct 1 2012: Hi Eric
        My feeling is loud and clear which is below...

        When my feeling is against the law like "Balshphemy", in no way I can tolerate such act of "stoning" by angry mob as you described......nor I can support someone mocking intensionally with others feelings and belief. That's why in my first post here I had my agreement what @ Justin Elkin commented about.

        I am not sure whom you are thinking to be "My Leaders" ?
  • Sep 26 2012: "what people deem sacred"

    So if enough people deem an image of a nude woman sacred, then people of other religions cannot attack or insult or demean that image. If enough people consider beer sacred, then other people cannot attack or insult or demean the drinking of beer. People who want to restrict freedom of speech had better be careful; they might get what they want.
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      Sep 26 2012: Agree. What is deemed sacred is vague and could go any way leaving us all silent.
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      Sep 26 2012: I like your savred examples.
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    Sep 26 2012: There is actually another important issue here, you fail to mention, the distortion of language.

    In the middle east, they teach their children that "freedom of religion", means freedom from jest and criticism. That is not what freedom of religion means. If you believe a different religion than someone else, you are going to critique, and make fun of them occasionally, some will attempt conversion... This is perfectly natural and acceptable behavior.

    Freedom of religion, means that a religious belief, can not be forced on the population. To force an atheist not to laugh at religions, is not freedom of religion, it is an institutional oppression of atheism. "Freedom of Religion" is not an institutional oppression, and jailing of atheists... and we cannot let the definitions of these words be co opted, because Christian zealots want to change them, just as much as Muslim zealots.

    Freedom of religion, is the right to blasphemy, and it set free the scientific revolution. There is no coherent argument against it, and we can no longer afford to pretend that there is. People who believe in censorship, are children, whether it's the UN, the US, Iran, or Israel.
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      Sep 27 2012: Interesting how words can be twisted to different meanings

      Agree freedom of religion does not mean absolute freedom for any thing religious inspired.

      It is a balancing act.

      Thanks david
    • Sep 30 2012: Hi David. Someone who thinks! Rare even at TED.
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    Oct 3 2012: Perhaps part of the response is pointing out how freedom of expression provides more benefits even if some offence than outlawing blasphemy.
  • Oct 2 2012: In a word no... Why would the UN enforce a policy to prevent Blasphemy? Seriously, the Flying Spaghetti monster is a recognized religion. Anyone with 10 bucks and a few moments of time can create a religion.

    There are over 30,000 denominations of Christianity, several Islam offshoots and interpretations, ultimately once you make Blasphemy illegal, anyone can start a religion, and basically outlaw any and all speech of any kind.

    It would require the UN to recognize only one religion, and treat insult of that religion as illegal, while ignoring all the rest (of the crazies). The fact this is even considered a legitimate idea makes me sad for the human species as a whole.

    Look at the countries that do have Blasphemy laws. What a joke, neighbor turning on neighbor to use the law to punish them, even if they never said anything. This would be a huge turn for the worse for the world, and humans as a whole.
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      Oct 3 2012: I agree Allen.

      I guess the non religious fundamentalists may agree in principle its not great to use freedom of speech to humiliate, but if offence is the bar, well that is in the eye of the beholder.

      I'm offended by holocaust denial, but suggest more speech is a better response is the best response to most bad speech.

      Some humiliation and offence is worth it in my view to maintain the benefits of optimum freedom of speech.
  • Oct 2 2012: This post made me wonder whether there is, or could be, some kind of 'stacking' system in human rights. Kind of like rules in CSS, or layers in Photoshop.

    For those not knowing what I mean, a rule in CSS is valid unless a rule later in the document overrules it.

    Of course, laws work like this to an extent. If a new law is written that contradicts an old one, the new one is followed.

    But it seems like people either ignore this fact, or don't understand, especially when talking about things like free speech. Why do laws or rules have to be so absolute? What's wrong with saying "Everybody has the right to free speech, UNLESS they are offending somebody."

    I think the key is in defining when a person has a right to be offended. It's probably impossible for both parties (the offender & offended) to take *every* possible action to stop the offence being taken, but what if we judged these things by how much the 2 parties have done to avoid offence being taken? For example, if a vegetarian walks into a Butcher's and is offended by the sight of raw meat, the vegetarian has clearly not done very much to avoid being offended. However, if a person knowingly shows up to that vegetarian's house with a basket of meat, that person must surely take the blame for any offence.

    Maybe this is already how the law is judged, I don't know. I just think following these principles solves a lot of debate.
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      Oct 3 2012: Interesting concept Sanjay.

      My view is humans identify and bestow "human rights and responsibilities"

      These rights are not intrinsic, but ideally work to improve the human condition and reduce suffering.

      I dnt think any are absolute and different rights will clash. Freedom of religion shopuld not mean freedom to kill others who do not follow your religious taboos.

      This is the sort of issue that deserves deep consideration as you suggest.
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    • Oct 2 2012: Gentlemen gentlemen, please, i somehow agree with all you but i think there many limitations to the extent of knowledge of someone like you who has lived in a modern society with freedom of speech and religion. you are not seeing the whole picture, do you?. i think, with all due respect many of you do not understand who is really behind the face of this individual or society you are dealing with. i lived my entire life around these people who hold some sacred ideas about prophet mohammad, god, and emams and etc. most of these people have been kept apart from the rest of the world by their government and regimes. they have been fed by their local clargymen and were somehow deceived and mislead by what they've been told, i can not describe here the whole process of how their government have been able to do such a thing or why these people are acting in this strange way, due to lack of time and energy. neverthelese you can't blame everything on their shortcoming and lack of understanding of this modern world because they've been kept in isolation from the rest of civilization. Comon you don't think they've been born this way do you?. i'm using this metaphor to make my point clear " after the problem is solved the answer seems quite obvious to everyone." and the relatedness of this phrase to my point is because you've been raised in a society who's rules of the game ( your expectation from others, civil rights, the extend of freedom which has been given to you, and etc) all of them has been made clear to you, build in to you from the start, that's because they seem so obvious to you now that you've become a grown up. in order to understand these parts of the world you have live their standards try to understand them from their perspective and the most and extremely difficult part is trying to come with some innovative ideas of yours about how to really help them try to understand modern standards of living cause otherwise you're just gonna make everything worst.
    • Oct 2 2012: @ Ezra Masri,
      Sorry Ezra, but you are wrong when you say that truth is relative. For example: the proposition "there is a book on the table in front of me" is either true or false depending on the physical state of being the world is in at the time the proposition is uttered. If I am in my office and proposition is true then it remains true for a person just entering my office. To suppose that a proposition can be both true and false at the same time for different people is utter nonsense.

      More on topic for this discussion: banning blasphemy is essentially trying to outlaw giving verbal offence. It is a direct violation of free speech rights. It is outright kowtowing to dictators and theocratic regimes to even consider such a ridiculous proposition. The very idea that one may not speak in such a way that offends another person is a dictate of politeness, not a dictate of morality. It is a valuable life lesson to learn that not everyone thinks as you do, and that many find your deeply held beliefs to be not only wrong, but laughable. I see no reason not to extend such a lesson to any person.
    • Oct 3 2012: Making a distinction and making it illegal is very different. Anyone can tall you that the inoccence of the Muslims is in bad taste but only the fanatics will tell you that it's should be banned. Additionally, you claim that he companies that operate in theocratic regimes should self censor, I turn that around and tell you that if the theocracies want to accept the progress of the Internet then they have to accept the unpleasant side of it ( unrestrained satire). Finally anyone who is offended can avoid watching what offends them.
  • Dan F

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    Oct 1 2012: As an atheist I do not subscribe to any religion. The idea of a supernatural being is something too mystical for me. So that makes my views on the subject of any such religion as blasphemous, despite my civil behavior.

    Beyond that I find some religions are even crazier than others. The differences between these rigid faith based belief systems begets blasphemous expression. This may in turn result in terrorism. These faithful and sensitive types are not going to change in their way of operating no matter how much prayer, or meditation is offered for world peace.

    Blasphemy should not be outlawed anywhere, let alone by edict from the the UN. Besides doesn't the UN have enough problems?

    I do believe people should be free to believe what they choose, but they get the baggage too!
  • Sep 30 2012: An individual's rights to express himself should never be limited. Society cannot police individual thought, only action. If you don't like someone because of their ideas, you should be able to express that, no matter how offensive other people find it. The liability comes when groups put forward ideas to represent a position. There are a lot of people who have strong beliefs that we as individuals agree with. A single racist or fear monger is a single voice among many. A group of racists or fear mongers can promote their ideas to manipulate public opinion over the lone voice of opposition. Care must be taken when we organize into units - and the responsibility and liability of that is fully accountable to the individual members. What should really be discusssed is how much is your responsibility when you support an idea that harms another group or individual.
  • Sep 30 2012: I think we have to take into consideration the mindset of an individual who has his religion insulted halfway around the world and reacts by wanting to murder and riot in the streets. This has its roots in a couple of things, first you have to have so little pleasure in your life that you use the slightest of insults as a scapegoat to riot and run amok. I posit this is due to just terrible living conditions and immense poverty. The other is fundamental islam, make any argument you want, if you believe the Koran is the word of God literally(im an agnostic atheist, so its not just the koran literally its any religion) this is going to make for some very terrible consequences. So i think we need to be understanding that this kind of psychopathic reaction to criticism is not just rooted in religion, but also rooted in having loads of repressed anger due to various reasons.

    To answer your question obey, I think it would be an incredible step backwards if we were to suspend free speech in regards to religion, if we do this where does it stop, whats next? Next thing it will be blasphemy to speak poorly about governments and political systems. Isn't this initiative just propping up Islamic law inadvertently because if i'm not mistaken blasphemy in Islam is considered worthy of death in some cases. This is saying, lets make it illegal because we can't help but want to murder you if you speak poorly of our prophet. What an absurd and childish notion.... This will never fly, I would consider moving out of the U.S. if we adopted this.
  • Sep 30 2012: Just another small step in the relentless path back to the 14th century with Islam carrying the banner this time...but this time its with nuclear weapons.
    I can't think of a worse position for the UN to take or the rest of the world to allow
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    Sep 30 2012: I think the concept of "blasphemy" assumes a universal observance of certain religious rules drawn up by specific people. Thus, there is no such universality of any religion--not in the same way that all humans would agree, independently, on basic Human Rights. I think that is the test. And for that reason, this is not an issue for the UN, or the UNDHR.

    Both the offense and response of the latest act of "blasphemy" come from a deep impractical lack of sense of community. And I daresay, in many cases, lack of education for appropriate levels of public expression. The star-treatment of these losers doesn't help. The killing of others, innocent others, especially, is deeply out of control and THAT needs prosecution. The irony there, in terms of "true blasphemy" is ridiculous. But we all know it's interpretive to begin with.

    The vast majority of people neither care to offend others nor feel the need to "retaliate" in such a brutal fashion. Most other offensive stuff in life gets routinely ignored, and these should too. This is what needs to be happen in a pluralistic society. However, I imagine the two sides are just going to be hoisting bigger and bigger ballsacks on to the table. Don't we have a global economy to fix?
  • Sep 29 2012: Stopping blasphemy via UN would not be a game changer, it may even increase the gap between the communities.
    The more fundamental problem is that the attachment towards ones religion and not listening to the outside world. Every religion has an extent of extremism. The extent of which it is executed puts the society at unease. May be one can think this problem as a mere lack of understanding the reality on either sides. There could be a solution which can only be achieved by trust from either sides.

    Having said this, in my opinion, any council/UN are no where near solving these issues. History had repeatedly taught that by force/power one can only lead to change in a policy of the government but not the people within. Lets put our efforts in regaining trust among us, so that we listen each other with some peace of mind(not with ears) and respect each other for a better world.
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      Sep 30 2012: I think you are onto something.

      If we worked out the political and economic issues we might make more progress.

      To me the call for blasphemy is almost like a deliberate effort to highlight that we don't share the same values or that the un is subject to the infidels. Which is kind of true.

      The security council voted to give half of Palestine to the Jews. Stupid.

      There are no Muslim nations permanent members of the security council. Which I'm not sure is a bad thing. It might make a flawed group worse.
  • Sep 26 2012: Nothing is universally sacred except the expression of the individual. It is a shame that persons are so arrogant they must devalue a sacred construct to support their own religion.
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    Sep 26 2012: Regardless, America will not back down,they can't,neither can the rest of them,we won't and neither will Aus,if they do then they can demand more,i have seen this over here in nz in other situations.
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      Sep 26 2012: Hi Ken, what have you seen in NZ?
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        Sep 27 2012: It's hard for me to say this but i have to take it from an observers point of view as i'm just as invested in it as any other kiwi is,so i will try to keep it short and as exact as i can,my people has been agitating for recognition for the last century and has been in negotiations since the late 80's for settlement which some of my tribes have taken not realizing that it is a double edged sword,so when issues that has come up in the last decade that affected our view of our country through our eye's, we protested and did walks from one end of the country to the capital,what was important to us was not important to the rest of the country,these protests were a waste of time(Well one wasn't but i won't go into it) it only works once effectively but every time it is used again only points to a rambling of a large group of people in an highly agitated state,so the government had to stand it's ground like a rock being pounded by heavy surf,if the government gave in during these outbursts then my more militant cousins could have agitated for more.This of course is just the emotional wave that calms down eventually and then the negotiations get back on track as they always have.

        What i see happening with what Islam wants is similar but not the same,as they are a group of different nationalities and ethnic races that want to impose a law upon/within another set of different countries to suit themselves as a distinct separate group of humans.

        My countries problems are nothing compared to what they want and we are only interested in what we think is important to nz and it has nothing to do with religion.
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          Sep 28 2012: Ken, have you ever written a conversation specifically about the culture clashes between the Kiwi, and the majority in NZ?

          I think the more subtle and peaceful clash of cultures, may actually provide a nice backdrop for some of the more acute problems faced in the world today, and it seems like something you're passionate about. Simply because of it's small population, I'm sure very few people are even familiar with what the Kiwi people really want.

          I'd be fascinated to read about it... Just a thought.
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        Sep 29 2012: I can't David,it would be totally biased and there are fellow Kiwi's here on TED, it would be disrespectful to my fellow countrymen and to us it looks like a whinning drawl but at home where i'm at now it's "Have at thee" because it's home where it matters, even online,though we may sound separate we are actually one,there is only 4 million of us on two little islands at the bottom of the world,one learns to accept each other though we may grumble,if anything what we are going through is the pain of mergence where one day we will have resonance and our little human murmuration will take flight from a land of flightless birds and join our big brother Australia when that ostrich takes to the air, if they ever get their heads out of the sand and go republic then we will follow.he he

        Oh by the way the term Kiwi means everybody from Nz like that of the Aussies,i've been agitating amongst my friends to change our national icon "The Kiwi" to the purple swamp hen which we call "The Pukeko" if you see one of those birds running you can't help but fall over laughing,they are endearing but i haven't got any good feedback lol.
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          Sep 30 2012: Hi ken I guess you are referring to protests by various Maori groups on various issues. Always complicated where an indigenous people's have been done over by another group.

          My understanding is Maoris became British citizens with the treaty of waitangi, but the Brits took land etc anyway. I guess the Maori fared better than aboriginal australians who only got the vote in the 1960's. Also the native Americans got done over. But not much consolation.

          Actually it seems the law of the jungle for most of human history.

          Chinese still going over tibetans. This group versus that group everywhere.

          Anyway it makes things complex now.

          At least equal rights under the law would be good. But even these can be racist like crack cocaine hving harser penlties versus coke.

          How do different cultures live together? Seems a challenge.
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        Sep 30 2012: Yeah Obey,that's why i won't go into it,we had it a lot better than others but in saying so the current situation is just the pain of mergence,if you look at nz's government you will see a damn good mix of representation,militant corporate junkies,christians,nutty greenies,gays and i'm hoping to see our asians and indians start to get interested,we're only half the population of Sydney but it's progressive though financially poor and resource poor,have the sydney newspapers had any articles on Kim Dotcom? and how our PM took a gamble and apologised to him for this governments USELESS intelligence departments handling of his arrest requested by the FBI,he was a full citizen and under our laws a citizen may not be placed under surveillance unless it is related to criminal behaviour.We're angry,all of us,they allowed a foriegn power to make demands upon our soil,though i'm a 65% supporter of this party in power now that doesn't give them the right to be cowtowed and i don't think you guys would put up with that either.

        I thought in Sydney there is a large group of different cultures?We're human Obey,when you're surrounded by other cultures you just accept it,You know what,i personally believe? that racism is tied to our DNA,i can't prove it but damn it everyone goes through wrestling with it at some stage in their lives.If you come across a maori and ask him if he's full blooded and he says yes,then you know he's lying,the last full blood died last century.
  • Oct 2 2012: Any disrespectful action against someone else should be considered as something wrong. But at the same time we must understand that criticism is part of this world. And any aspect of a religion can be analyzed or criticized in a respectful manner. If something is said about a religious character, and the argument is based on solid scientific evidence then it should not be taken as a blasphemy. And as far as i remember God said that revenge belongs to him. So its not in my hands to avenge what i consider is an offense against what i believe. Most religions speak about a final judgment where we will all face a trial for whatever we did in this life. If that its true then we will have to pay for what we did or said wrong, and If its not true and there is no final judgment maybe it will be a good thing to leave this world knowing that always tried to do what is right, according to whatever we believe in, as individuals. And that all the ones that stay in this world after we go, will remember us as good men or women that left a legacy of respect and wisdom.
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      Oct 3 2012: Hi Roberto.

      Interesting point.

      I also its not great to intend to be disrespectful. However, you can respect someone and still tell them you disagree even if this offends them. Subtle consideration here I suggest.

      If I say we seem to have evolved rather than be created as homo sapiens, or that the earth is more than 6000 years old, or that at best all but one religious belief system can be completely correct so all the other thousands must be false, this may offend. People may feel disrespected, but my right to say my mind should also be respected.

      Or I might say I respect people too much to pander to their religious world views, I worry for their children and mine stuck in medieval thinking.

      I see you point out some suggested boundaries for offence/blasphemy. I see the point because if we can not say 2+2=4. Or that there is no evidence for the existence of adam and eve or even Abraham or Noah, these excessively cuts reasonable speech.

      However, offence and what is considered sound can get very twisted to support a particular would view. And the fanatics will still disagree.

      If the intent is to offend, not great, but should not be outlawed.
  • Oct 2 2012: We cannot accept ancient belief systems, nor tolerate those that espouse them in a new world. In Pakistan, we have an adult male claiming that a child of 14 burned copies of some holy book. There is outrage about this? But not the fact that we have a pedophile preying on a child? Religion has to be put in its place... This is absolute disgrace. I don't care if it is Jehovah, Christ, Mohammed, or the great Snowy Bear. All beliefs such as these should be put in the ashes of humanity. Original Sin? There was no Adam and Eve. The earth is billio
  • Oct 1 2012: Society progresses when old archaic practices that are found to be detrimental to positive human growth and expression are excised from said Society. To defer such a natural right is to end a society and instead grow a prison.
  • Oct 1 2012: We can not make laws of belief, only laws of certainty, for every individual holds different beliefs to others but it is the certainty of how our perceptions overlap that we may enjoy together.
  • Sep 30 2012: I am Bahai, Moslems concider my entire religon a blasphemy
    I was raised fundamentalist Baptist, we concidered Islam a blasphemy
    We call Islam blasphemy they call our religion a blasphemy . I wonder, are there any precidents in history that might give a clue as to where this leads?(hint; Crusades)
    Copernicus was called a blasphemer as was Galileo and countless others who were simply telling the truth
    Blasphemy is anything a religous leader decides to call blasphmey and its net effect is supression of competing ideas or religions
    So not only no but HELL NO!
  • Sep 30 2012: Hindering freedom of speech would be heinous, but...

    ...what is the borderline between freedom of speech and slander, offense and impoliteness? One should not abuse his/hers own freedom to trample upon the beliefs of others.
  • Sep 30 2012: I think that we shouldn't be enforcing any bans.
    We should rather be promoting honorable actions and civilized debate.

    If we continue to not talk but remain provoking there is no doubt in my mind that the conflicts will escalate more frequently and with more extreme concequences.
    If however we start an honerable debate where everyone tries to understand the others perspective this would lead to a much more contructive world.

    If however one side (or both sides) do not want this then obviously they prefer a massive war over peace... and I'd call them insane.
  • Sep 29 2012: While I don't agree with the lawless behavior of some of our trhird world Muslim friends, I don't agree with the behavior of a Westerner who intentionally does something that would be expected to cause death or injury to innocent third parties. Isn't that like yelling "fire" in a theater? That's not allowed. This movie is unacceptable because the producers knew or should have known it will cause so many problems.
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      Sep 30 2012: Firstly the alledged is a Coptic Christian. A sect persecuted in Egypt by the Muslim majority. Although I don't know the motives. But he was not a Muslim.

      And no it is not like yelling fire in a movie theatre. It's like yelling something offensive. And then the crowd going balalistic and burning down the theatre. But I get your point.

      In this case the movie seems deliberately intended to be provocative and offend.

      I for one don't think we should cowl in fear in response to this religious violence.

      To compare offensive speech with murder and violence seems a little screwed up to me.

      But the killers are the ones who are responsible. 100%.

      The movie was bad quality and offensive. So what. The response to bad speech should be more speech.

      It's almost like blaming a woman for being raped because she wore a tight dress. Sorry it may have been unwise, but the rapist is at fault.

      The violence while predictable, is the fault of the fundamentalist violent rabble who have less respect for others than those that offend with only words.
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    Sep 28 2012: A member's response who indicated blasphemy should be outlawed -- presumably on an international level? -- has received a plus-1. This interrupted my initial thought process that the question was rhetorical in nature.

    I will be very interested to learn how the UN approaches this issue and how the dialogue occurs...How to actually have 'talks' with, rather than to, each side.

    Perhaps some deep, meaningful analogies and metaphors would be helpful in these communications. Someone who knows the sensitive faith's tenets inside and out.

    Is the challenge to reach a populace in order to re-frame or open their belief systems? Is the goal to teach these people that they cannot be lessened in any way -- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually -- by someone else's actions or words, and to accomplish this in a peaceful manner?
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      Sep 30 2012: Our prime minister spoke at the un and said it was not okay to be critical of religion.

      She was not speaking for me.

      I may even write a letter.

      The challenge is substantial. I'm not sure what the solution is. I guess if there was less religion, especially the fundamentalist type we wouldn't need to worry about having medieval religious taboos forced on us. Or just a spread of enlightened values.
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        Sep 30 2012: "However our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred and incitement to violence, whether these lead to attacks against members of religious minorities or diplomats, attacks against houses of worship or diplomatic missions. The perpetrators of all such violence must be brought to justice and all such incitement must be condemned. " ~australian PM julia gillard

        sounded like political double-talk to me. her underlying goal was to cover all bases, perhaps, and work towards a seat on the security council, though, right?

        she did also say, "Denigration of religious beliefs is never acceptable."

        but I don't get the impression she weighed in on whether the UN should pass a resolution to outlaw it in anyway.

        very tricky issue...seems it would be healthy for the UN to include Islamic nations, but how to find the balance with maintaining freedom of expression/religion while the vantage point of some of these nations is purely religious?
  • Sep 27 2012: Of course not-we do not live in the middle age any more. If people act wired, you should tell them, and obvious insane cults shoult not be protected by law, instead, the society has to be protected from them.

    It is really wired that there is even a debate about the "feelings" of religious people and if that needs new laws. It does not need new laws, because any law like that would be an old law.

    So, if we really consider to make a law against blasphemy, we should allow burning witches at the same moment, as we are obviously think and act like in the dark past of mankind again.
    • Sep 29 2012: its funny how you say cults should not be protected, but all major religions started as cult that where strange and demented to the people of the times
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      Sep 30 2012: If old superstitions were covered then so should the new superstitions.

      Seriously the stories in the bible, virgin births, talking donkeys and serpents, living in whale, cutting bits of hour penis off, etc are just as weird as any current cult, unless they re prt of your cultural norms.
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    Sep 27 2012: Should the U.N. override the Constitution of the United States? Blasphemy is not one of the exclusions under the First Amendment. In America we are free to blaspheme. Why, heck, we can even speak irreverently and profanely about the U.N. My answer to your provocative question is NO. Get the U.S. out of the U.N. Thank you!
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    Sep 27 2012: I think exercising good old common sense and not provoking people in that way would work better than a label such as blasphemer.
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      Sep 30 2012: I agree Justin, mostly.

      We should be able to say what we want, pretty much, including things that will offend. But why go out of your way to provoke.

      Some groups are just too easily incited to violence. The response to speech you don't like should be more speech, not violence.
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        Sep 30 2012: Why is the UN of all things worried about this?!
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    Sep 27 2012: The Jews had Jesus put to death for blasphemy. All indications say he was the Messiah that their prophets foretold. That being the case, they crucified the very hope they longed for by their laws. When is it going to stop?

    you are right, most human rights aim to improve the human condition - but for who? For those who make the laws. They tailor them to their own advantage. It happened in religion, and it is happening in politics.

    A religion that leads to spiritual experience has value. It draws people in by the results it produces. You don't have to force people into it. A religion that condemns non-believers is destructive. It draws people in by fear of what might happen to the offender. If the only way you can promote your religion is through violence and threats, than Satan is your master. We need to stand up to tyranny. I agree that no one should allow this. People should have the right to speak out against human injustice whether it is based on religion or not.

    The early Catholic church condemned the gnostic christians for heresy. The same church condemned witches as consorting with the devil. Evidence clearly shows that it was all based on lies. Genetic mutilation does not provide any benefit to the victim. It is used to control. I believe in religion, including the Satanic part. And the Satanic part seems to be gaining ground.

    You have raised a good point. No one should sign this.
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      Sep 30 2012: Hi Roy, thanks for the comment.

      I agree with the bulk of your comment.

      I think that some Jews would point out biblical inconsistencies that indicate Jesus was not the messiah even though the Christians had every opportunity to make up stuff so that it seemed Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, they failed under closer analysis.

      It seems rather arbitrary to me how orthodoxy is determined in most religions.
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    Sep 26 2012: The UN was developed to solve international problems. It was not developed to address religious issues. I think instead of outlawing blasphemy, they should just outlaw all discussion of religion period. Kinda like the US public school system. How many people discuss religion and blasphemy in the workplace? It is so inappropriate in this setting.
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      Sep 30 2012: Hi Linda the un human rights declaration mentions freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Which seems fine to me. If they just stuck to this I agree that would be fine.

      Just some want to outlaw criticism of religious beliefs. Which I disagree with.

      The un does not push ny particular religion and seems as secular as us government is supposed to be.
  • Sep 26 2012: "Essentially, if you hold genital mutilation of children sacred or any other harmful religious belief sacred it is proposed to make it illegal to condemn this."

    You just answered your own question: of course blasphemy should not be outlawed, it would be a return to the dark ages.

    "I hope Australia does not sign this."

    It won't, this is like the fifth time the Islamic countries try to do this (apparently they've already eliminated hunger, poverty, HIV, malaria and TBC, climate change, solved the energy problem and ensured equal rights for all), each time they were defeated in the UN by free countries. Even if they get a majority it would still be non-binding because there's no way even one of the five permanent security council members would vote for it.
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      Sep 26 2012: Thanks John
      I guess it shows different priorities.
      And perhaps some populism or internal politicking.
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    Sep 26 2012: Actually the many of the countries where people might support prohibiting criticism of religion are the ones that have the worse human rights.