Petition Closed

The current effort by a group of Islamic nations, led by Turkey, to get the UN to ban blasphemy worldwide, is a threat to civil liberties and would be a major step backwards in promoting freedom and peace on our planet. It would put normal, reasonable people who simply want to speak their minds and discuss issues, at the mercy of the most extreme elements from any corner of the planet. It would stifle any debate about the role of religion in public life.

Such a resolution would contravene the UN's own Universal Charter of Human Rights; Article 19 states the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It also is contrary to the U.S. Constitution, and could not be implemented in the U.S.A.

Anti-blasphemy laws are a favorite tool of repressive regimes, precisely because blasphemy can be anything they say it is, even after the fact. It's bad enough when they do it in their own countries. To suggest that an imam in Libya has even the vaguest suggestion of a right to control what someone in Michigan says, is an outrage and a travesty. The supporters of such laws should consider that they would also be subjecting their own rights of speech to the control of the most radical Christian elements. Advocates of censorship assume the censors will always be people like themselves. But once the ability to censor is established, the most ruthless and power-hungry people always seek to wield that authority.

Nobody has the right to not be offended. Being offended is state of mind, and nobody can predict what comment someone somewhere in the world would deem as being against their religion. Provocation is also an interior state; if someone is provoked to violence by another's words, the one who committed violence is more at fault. Passing such a resolution would legitimize violence and impair efforts to reach reasonable accommodation through debate.

Letter to
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
I just signed the following petition addressed to: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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Don't try to curtail free speech worldwide

The current effort by a group of Islamic nations, led by Turkey, to get the UN to ban blasphemy worldwide, is a threat to civil liberties and would be a major step backwards in promoting freedom and peace on our planet. It would put normal, reasonable people who simply want to speak their minds and discuss issues, at the mercy of the most extreme elements from any corner of the planet. It would stifle any debate about the role of religion in public life.

Such a resolution would contravene the UN's own Universal Charter of Human Rights; Article 19 states the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It also is contrary to the U.S. Constitution, and could not be implemented in the U.S.A.

Anti-blasphemy laws are a favorite tool of repressive regimes, precisely because blasphemy can be anything they say it is, even after the fact. It's bad enough when they do it in their own countries. To suggest that an imam in Libya has even the vaguest suggestion of a right to control what someone in Michigan says, is an outrage and a travesty. The supporters of such laws should consider that they would also be subjecting their own rights of speech to the control of the most radical Christian elements. Advocates of censorship assume the censors will always be people like themselves. But once the ability to censor is established, the most ruthless and power-hungry people always seek to wield that authority.

Nobody has the right to not be offended. Being offended is state of mind, and nobody can predict what comment someone somewhere in the world would deem as being against their religion. Provocation is also an interior state; if someone is provoked to violence by another's words, the one who committed violence is more at fault. Passing such a resolution would legitimize violence and impair efforts to reach reasonable accommodation through debate.
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Sincerely,