Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
By Akash SinglaFollow @rationalcritic1 January 7th, 2015, was a shocking day for free speech lovers, liberals, humanists and all other people who have an iota of humanity in them. Twelve people mostly cartoonists and journalists were killed in Paris, France. What had they done to deserve that? They had been working for “Charlie Hebdo” a magazine, which published cartoons, which often lampooned religions. These people were killed because they presented Prophet Mohammed, in objectionable ways in their cartoons There death was condemned by all sensible people on internet. Except a few idiots; I found no one who rejoiced over this act. However there was another group; which although condemned the killings, but still said the cartoonists should not have drawn those cartoons. Some even went to the extent of saying why provoke Jihadists. Some others suggested that things like religion are best kept away from reason and criticism. Should we not criticise religion? Should we not question our beliefs? Let me go even further. Should we not lampoon religion? Should we not make fun of it? Why is Religion protected by people? First question is to understand why people feel the need to protect their religions. People have been killing others for questioning religion since centuries. Copernicus comes to my mind, who was killed by the Church when he suggested that Earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around. In recent years Islamic terrorism has engulfed the world. These people have killed thousands in the name of religion. Religion is protected by both religious leaders and followers. Religious leaders want to protect their monopoly to interpret the religion. Any transgression, howsoever small it is, is punished. It is done so no one dare question the religion. Religion lets the rulers maintain monopoly over power. So religious tenets are made so rigid that anyone questioning it is punished. Even a cartoon on a religion can get you death. Its a warning to others so no other cartoons are drawn. These leaders use religion to legitimately remain powerful. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban are prime examples. So anyone questioning the religion must be killed and silenced. On the other hand people who follow religion themselves feel too attached to their religions. They derive their beliefs, practices and morals from their religion. So one day when they see the basis of their living is being lampooned, they feel cognitive dissonance. Either they will question their religion, or they will question the person who lampooned their religion. (The strength of this dissonance will depend upon how much people are attached to their religion.  In traditional societies people are still highly attached to their religion) In traditional societies people can’t question their religion, they end up hating the person who made fun of their religion.  But what action will people take against the person who they start hating will depend upon the society type. For e.g. if you belong to a society which presents means to show dissent in a peaceful manner; then there is a high probability that people will protest peacefully. Also if law and order situation is good, then also dissent will most probably be peaceful.  Why do people criticise religions? If people are so sensitive about religion, why should others criticize it? It is agreed by most that religions contain highly valuable tenets. They define morality, ethics and ways of living for people. Religions have helped in creating order in the society. They certainly present some functions for the society otherwise they would not have continued to exist for centuries. However religions are not absolute truths. Religions were made by men/women who were mere mortals like us. They tried to define the way of living for other people. Many religions also originated from myths, magic, and limited knowledge of nature which humans had at that point in their evolution. So religion when they originated were “the understanding of nature by humans at that point”.  Religions can be differentiated in content as well as rigidity.  Content means some religions are very philosophical that is the tenets are left to the interpretation of people, and some religions don’t leave room for interpretation or right to interpretation is reserved only for priests.  Rigidity means temporal rigidity. That is how religion has transformed over time. Some religions have transformed themselves with changing times. So they present “the current understanding of nature by humans”. Many sects also come under this heading.  However some religions have not been able to transform themselves with time. Or their content can not be interpreted according to the present. Unfortunately most religions fall under this category. This presents a contradiction in the society. People feel there is a gap between the world and the religion. People can’t live with the sensibilities of the old to breathe in present. Need for criticism, satire arises from this. The satirist aims to show the contradictions in the religion. He/She may make use of cartoons, blogs, dress, language etc. to make case for the same. The need for criticism arises from the same. People should and must criticise religions. Criticism is must. Antithesis of the thesis is must to create synthesis.  But what about people who feel violated with the attack on their religion? These people have a legitimate right to protest against anyone making fun of their religion. But this right does not and should not extend to killing, vandalising and making threats. Modern countries should try to present these people with means to vent their concerns. Law and order also must act as a deterrent to any such acts.  Anyone who wants a just society must stand up against fundamentalists who try to curb free speech. There must not be any justification for the vandalism, killings or threats. These people must be shunned and dealt with harshly. These people must understand that they will not get any sympathy for their actions. They should be worthy only of contempt. Only then we can hope that society can change over time. Change take years to come. But the process must start now. “Charlie Hebdo” terror attack must be a wake up call for us all. Let us stand united against all extremism against any speech or expression.  PS- Modiji- 66A and 295 ka kuch karo na Tweet Follow @thenewsminute Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.