The right to be sentimentally hurt, and various stories:
Neeraj asked me (or anyone, I guess) on his blog recently:
Why is it that we need to worry about [Hurting Sentiments] when hurtees (the ones whose sentiments were hurt) have collectively caused more harm to this world than some random bloke like me blurting out a random quote?
This after I advised him to be careful of hurting sentiments for this tweet. Of course, I was more concerned about the legal (or extra-legal, at any rate, considering the tacit political support enjoyed by the hurtees (thanks Neeraj for coining that word)) framework under which we work, where free speech is becoming more and more stilted these days, in practice if not in principle, especially when religious (or quasi religious) beliefs or figures, are being discussed. And while I was half-joking when I made that comment, these days the specter of religious fundamentalism and its increasingly (un)holy grip over civil liberties, does make me extremely worried about my friends who are trying to exercise freedom of expression and thoughts.
My personal view is, every other religious text (and every religious leader, with some — albeit theoretical — exceptions) hurts religious sentiments of someone else (and not to mention the religious sentiments of atheists like me). For if there is only one salvation, then those who believe in the “other” ideas/paths to salvation are hurt by default (and religiously at that!). But strangely they (and by this I don’t mean any specific religious group, but everyone who has used this ploy to silence free speech in the past) raise the bogey of hurt sentiments only when their cherished, anachronistic, factually incorrect, anti human-rights, and sometimes downright cruel, beliefs and/or practices are questioned(!) or ridiculed. Like this for instance.
If a religious leader can say that I will go to hell for blasphemy, isn’t s/he hurting my religious sentiments (maybe my religion doesn’t believe in hell? Or maybe my religious beliefs have a “you go to heaven no matter what” cannon?) Do I get that protection only if I claim to be “repeating the words that I (or someone) heard straight from God”?
Isn’t it high time atheists invented a God of their own, just to buy them protection from religious fundamentalism of this sort? After all, if my God were telling me something about other Gods/prophets, I would be excused from any legal action — as is obvious from the freedom of expression that all these religious leaders seem to enjoy, all the time — and which is denied us, the mere mortals?
What if my God asked me to insult other religions (or set a precedent of insulting other religions/people believing in them Himself?). Do I get a free ride, of not just insulting, but even physically abusing, others in the name of religious ‘Truth’?
Anuja at Political Rampage has more horror stories to share. In the footnote she adds:
If you need God to point out what is cruel and what is just, then no religion can save your soul.
Forget soul. It cannot even save your butt.