Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pondering opposition....

Several months ago I watched a documentary on television, Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech.  The documentary profiled several cases that challenged the hell out of me…incidents where people said things that go against everything I believe in and yet their very act of saying them demonstrates something I believe so very much in - freedom of speech.

At the end of the documentary I was drained and inspired…disturbed and empowered.

Gawd, I love a good documentary film!

Anyhoo, I was reminded of those feelings and that documentary when I read the news that some residents of Murfreesboro Tennessee oppose the building of a new Islamic Center near town.  The congregation of the current center has outgrown it’s home and seeks to expand in a new center and some residents are fiercely opposed to that plan.

If people opposed the new Islamic Center because plans violate local building codes or threaten a protected wetland it would be one thing…but folks have voiced opposition based on the fact that the center will be an Islamic center.

Some have called it a training center for terrorists…there have been incidents of vandalism at the planned site of the new center…and there was even a call for a boycott of any business that works on construction of the new center.

A local Tea Party candidate running for Congress even went so far as to call Islam a political system designed to enforce Sharia Law and not a religion.

Americans have the right to engage in public displays of absolute ignorance.  I’ll defend that any day…because I want to protect my right to engage in public displays of brilliance (wink).

But people do not have the right to use government as a weapon to deny others the right to religious freedom ‘cause of an intellectually lazy and bigoted fear of all things associated with the religion of Islam.

There’s this thing called the 1st Amendment to the Constitution...the one that prohibits government from impeding the free exercise of religion and protects our right to peaceably assemble.

That same amendment prohibits government from infringing on free speech…and I can’t get over how sad it is that those folks in Mufreesboro who oppose the building of a new Islamic center are exercising one part of the 1st Amendment to demand county officials violate another part of that same amendment.

Sad, but not surprising...when we pull back the scab of tolerance we often find the festering infection of bigotry.

And that is as American as people working to deny freedom ‘cause they claim that they want to protect freedom.



libhom said...

John Lennon said it so well.

"Imagine no religion."

ImogenQuest said...

It's telling that there is such obvious confusion among the Tea Party types about the difference between a religion and a political system.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line- freedom of religion exists. They have a right to build their Mosque, end of story.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but NOBODY gets to overpower other with their religion-even Muslims.

As Aayan Hirsti Ali has been saying, we need to hold Muslims to account for the way they've let Islam be hijacked by radical factions who do nothing but cause trouble for those who try to practice worship of Islam peacefully, and cause incidents like this to happen.

I urge most people to read The Trouble With Islam and answer the author's call to make Islam better, as well as Ms. Ali's book.

Shark-Fu said...

Anonymous, that dawg don't hunt.

Spare me the intellectually lazy arguments and fear mongering...we don't get to pick and choose who gets rights and who doesn't.

The same pathetic shit was said of Mormon's in Missouri back in the day...and, though I'm no fan of Mormons, that shit was wrong then and is wrong now.

And the terrorists in my neck of the woods wear crosses even as they burn them...

mr pinky said...

What I think is counter to democracy is religious fundamentalism of any flavor. Additionally, although I am not religious, I think that religion is an excuse to love, and not an excuse to hate.

Ms. ABB, have you considered providing commentary for public radio?

With Admiration,
mr pinky

Shark-Fu said...

mr. pinky...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I've been on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin...a fantabulous show, btw.

Live radio stresses me out, but recorded stuff is kind of fun!

Unknown said...

Well said ABB,

- It has been a recent contention that I've had regarding institutions like the Westboro Baptist Church. Clearly thier reasoning is insane...there's not a wit of logic in thier activities, but if we deny them thier freedom of speech - we deny everyone's freedom of speech.
- That is something I cannot support so no matter how angry I get and how much I want to slap the 'holy righteousness' out of them, I know this cannot be done - they are Americans, I am an American and even though they are entirely uncivil...I still cannot deny them thier unalienable right - freedom of speech...
- I can let others know how utterly insane they are and I do so as much as I possibly can, but I do NOT suggest that they be silenced. No, if they want to blather complete nonsense and make the Christian faith look THAT BAD...sure, I'll let them. It's up to the Christians to correct them, not I am not a Christian, I'm a Deist.
- May the Constitution and Our Civil Liberties remain unfettered, ABB. Peace be with you.

The American Deist (,
M.D. Little

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