A letter to a campus paper attacks a previous defense of free speech. My response:
Let me start this letter by taking the opportunity to be as offensive as possible: the only thing that makes orthodox Christians and Muslims morally better than neo-Nazi’s is Auschwitz was a real place, but Hell exists only in the deluded imaginations of religionists.
This letter was prompted by Saif Syed’s letter saying that “hate speech” must not be allowed. He cites cases of racial violence to make his point, but to extend the point to religions is patently absurd.
Religions are not something people are born into, like racial groups. They are belief systems, and protecting them from criticism makes no more sense than protecting communism, socialism, nationalism, pacifism, Nazism, libertarianism, or environmentalism. Some religions, furthermore, are every bit as vile as any secular ideology.
Among those religions are the strains of Christianity and Islam that proclaim their holy books infallible, for both cannons make clear that anyone who disagrees with the ideology is damned. “Whosoever does not believe is condemned” declares John 3:18 (why isn’t that quoted as often as 3:16?) and the Quran repeats a similar statement ad nauseum, saying that unbelievers will suffer an “awful doom.”
Some will say there is nonetheless such a thing as going overboard. So what? The important thing is not making sure that people are as nice as possible when challenging medieval insanities. The important thing is making sure that such insanities are challenged at all.