Jan 302012

If there really are people whose mission is to see religion eliminated across the world, I am not one of them. My vision is much more limited. I want everyone to realise that religions are hobbies and to treat them as such. If this is achieved, most of the conflict caused by the existence of religions will disappear, and atheists and followers of all religions should be able to coexist reasonably peacefully. After all, other hobbies can coexist reasonably peacefully (unless they have double-booked the meeting room!)

By any plausible definition of “hobby”, religions (more specifically “religious practices”) really are hobbies, but lots of people don’t see it that way. Many followers of religions want privileges and powers that are not available to other hobbyists. They can’t see that they can only justify this if they can get their god(s) to convince the rest of us that privilege is a requirement. Obviously this is beyond them!

The events at the London School of Economics Students’ Union show how much some religions, in particular Islam, have contaminated the enlightenment process. Some Muslims are trying to censor an innocuous cartoon, and they have persuaded this Students’ Union to support them in contravention of the conventions of free expression expected in academia. They have published a ridiculous (PDF) statement “No to racism – no to Islamophobia!” Like a fart in a lift, this is wrong on many levels. Here is perhaps the most stupid part of it:

Union resolves
To define Islamophobia as “a form of racism expressed through the hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture, and the stereotyping, demonisation or harassment of Muslims, including but not limited to portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”

Haven’t they read the Qur’an? The bit about wife-beating? [4:34] The bits about not having Jews as friends? [5:51, 5:60] The bits that define women as inferior beings for the rest of eternity? (At most half as reliable in court [2:282]. Only deserving half the inheritance of their brothers [4:11, 4:176]). The bit about “slaying the pagans wherever you find them”? [9:5]

Don’t they understand the difference between “race” and “religion”? Islam is a religion, not a race. There are Muslims from just about every country and most ethnic groups in the world. Many thousands of Muslims in the UK are Caucasian with British ancestry going back centuries.

Don’t they understand the difference between criticism of Islam and hatred or fear of Muslims? Haven’t they realised that, in fact, many Muslims are the victims of Islam, and deserve our sympathy, not our hatred? (Especially but not only Muslim women, of course). Some Islamic cultures advocate barbaric practices such as “honour killing” and “female genital mutilation“, and those practices deserve our contempt and hatred. (UK law has made them criminal offenses. Is such law to be condemned as Islamophobia?)

Don’t they realise that few if any people claim that all Muslims are barbarians or terrorists, and that we typically know that only very few of them are? Furthermore, why are they publishing their own definition of Islamophobia, when there already is one, about as bad as their own?

Islam in its natural state is at best medieval and at worst barbaric; it is incompatible with universal human rights and with the 21st century. We are engaged in a war for enlightenment, being fought over generations. We must hope that future generations will not adhere to the worst doctrines of Islam.

How can an ideology be turned into a hobby?

I assume this requires a combination of carrot and stick, of persuasion, criticism, and ridicule. Plus simply being exposed from birth to a more enlightened environment. Some Muslims will see this as a threat to their identity or to their genuine beliefs about the nature of the universe. History shows that censorship will be one of the tools used to maintain the authority of Islamic fundamentals. Censorship must be rejected.

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