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current events, Religion

Obama Opposes UN Anti-Defamation Resolution

Thankfully, there is some sanity in the U.N.  The Obama administration has announced that it is strongly opposed to a resolution that would condemn negative speech against religions.  Hillary Clinton said in a news conference that such a resolution would be a major blow against free expression and speech.

She’s right, of course.  Everyone, theists included, should be opposed to any sort of limit to what can and can’t be said about religion.   Protestants should be well aware that some of their very own doctrines could be considered defamation of Catholics.  Many protestants believe that Catholics are heretics for praying to Mary.  Are protestants everywhere prepared to leave it in the hands of a judge to determine whether one of the tenets of their religion is too defaming to be allowed?

It should also be noted that this kind of “protection” from criticism is completely contrary to the search for truth.  If Islam, or Christianity, or Buddhism is true, then the way to find this out is to engage in unfiltered, unflinching dialog, and to respond to criticism.

Furthermore, consider the human rights violation inherent in a gag order on free inquiry and criticism of religion.  Suppose that Christianity is true.  Jesus is God, and anyone who doesn’t believe in him is going to burn in hell forever.  Now, consider the implications if we lived in an Islamic country where it was illegal to criticize the Muslim faith.   In effect, the law is sentencing people to hell, since it doesn’t give them a fair chance to learn that Islam is wrong and Christianity is right.

Of course, that goes for any religion.  If we cannot have open, critical dialog about religion, then we cannot hope to reasonably discover the truth.  There is no reason to allow one religion to strong-arm the rest of the world into silence.



8 thoughts on “Obama Opposes UN Anti-Defamation Resolution

  1. I agree 100%, but I think you made a rhetorical error in including Buddhism in that list – because I don’t think there are any Buddhists out there trying to silence criticism the way Muslims and Christians are. Even where Buddhist philosophy and practice is all tangled up with wacky supernatural beliefs – as it is in most places and times, although Buddhism isn’t necessarily, inherently, and always supernaturalist, unlike most other religious traditions – Buddhists have never been very excited about the whole authoritarian silencing of debate and suppressing of rival belief systems thing. It’s just not their bag.

    That’s why I often shy away from general statements about “religion” as such. Any word that’s used as a general category which includes egalitarian hippie feminist animism á la Wiccanism and the patriarchal, hierarchical, social control religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam is a bit tricky the make general claims about. “Faith,” however, is always a disastrous human failing.

    Posted by G Felis | October 29, 2009, 6:21 pm
  2. Hmm… I’m looking at the sentence that included Buddhism, and I can’t decide whether your itchy trigger finger is to blame or some lack of clarity in my writing to which I am blind…

    But it looks to me like I included Buddhism in the list of religions which might be true, and then pointed to any silencing of critical dialog as potentially keeping people of any faith or non-faith from discovering the truth, whatever that turns out to be.

    I’m having a hard time finding a reference to Buddhists suppressing critical dialog.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 29, 2009, 7:17 pm
  3. Meaning extends beyond the bounds of a single punctuation mark, my friend. In context – with the prior sentence pointing out that seeking “protection” from criticism is exactly the opposite of what truth-seekers should do – your inclusion of Buddhism with Christianity and Islam sure seems to imply that Buddhism belongs on the list with other religions whose adherents are (but ought not to be) seeking protection from critical dialog. I’m quite aware that you didn’t directly say that Buddhists are in fact seeking such protection – but context and implication do count in rhetoric, which is why I suggested you’d made a rhetorical error rather than a factual error.

    Posted by G Felis | October 29, 2009, 7:51 pm
  4. Damn you and your precision!

    I’ll grant your point on your suggestion of a rhetorical rather than factual error. However, I still think you’re just being sensitive. The last sentence is quite a rhetorical flourish — against *one* religion silencing the others, and you and I (and everyone else reading this) knows that refers to Muslims.

    I insist that my interpretation of how you should feel about my rhetoric is correct. 🙂

    Posted by Hambydammit | October 29, 2009, 9:46 pm
  5. I insist that my interpretation of how you should feel about my rhetoric is correct.

    That statement is made of win. And it is made of funny. It is made of winfunny.

    Posted by G Felis | October 30, 2009, 2:45 am
  6. Hey Blogger… If you want to generalize policy under one umbrella (the easy way out), then every religion, specially muslims can come and say this is hate speech against my religion then why can’t I use similar speech against mexicans, homosexuals, americans, etc…

    Posted by Guillerm | October 31, 2009, 1:01 pm
  7. What?

    You’re saying, I guess, that allowing defamation against religion is a “slippery slope” to allowing defamation against races?

    I never like slippery slope arguments to begin with. Most of them are good rhetoric, but poor predictions. Beyond that, there’s a very distinct categorical difference between a religion and a person. You should be able to spot it — A person is a PERSON and a religion is NOT.

    Posted by hambydammit | October 31, 2009, 1:11 pm
  8. Yeah, Guillerm! Don’t talk crap about the American/Mexican/Homosexual races!

    Seriously though, do you Guillerm, know of anyone that asks for or seems to need a reason to talk bad about Americans?

    At least we’re not lke those dirty french bastards…

    Posted by Watcher | November 4, 2009, 8:32 pm

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