Someone should have said this long ago.
Something terribly important has been missing from discussions orbiting around the Mohammed cartoons…What’s been missing has been an acknowledgment that blasphemy isn’t just something that must be tolerated. It’s something that possesses a special political value of its own. Blasphemy, in short, is a good thing. It’s something admirable, noble, and, yes, even respectable.
Actually…now you mention it…somebody ought to start a magazine called Blasphemy. And mean it.
It must be stated and stated unequivocally that it’s no more improper in healthy democratic discourse to ridicule religious figures and ideas (even core ideas) than it is to criticize and mock (other) politically important figures and ideas…Formally speaking, in democratic discourse there’s nothing special about religious doctrines. Like other ideologies, religion instructs and even commands people about what they should value and how they should conduct themselves…Many clerics actually tell their congregations how to vote. It’s simply not acceptable for a participant to enter public debate, have such a powerful effect upon it, and then claim immunity from the sort of treatment to which other participants are subject.
Exactly! They don’t get to mix it up so thoroughly in public debate and then demand immunity. They don’t get to dive head-first into the profane and then demand (with threats and menaces) to be treated as sacred.
The article is in an Open Debate at TPM: you can reply to it, and Peter Fosl will reply to three of the best, which will (I think, although it doesn’t say that on the page) be published in the magazine.