Some atheists are not happy with One Law for All’s use of the Jesus and Mo cartoon on leaflets to promote the 11 February Day in defence of free expression. They feel that since the Jesus and Mo cartoons have been deemed offensive, it is best not to use them.

But that’s the whole point isn’t it?

We’re rallying in order to say that the right to offend is part of free expression. No one needs to rally for inoffensive speech, do they?

And if I hear one more hypothetical on why we shouldn’t offend if we can avoid it, I might just scream. The latest one: ‘If a Muslim comes to your house you will not plaster the Jesus and Mo cartoon all over to offend them on purpose now will you?’

Look my Muslim parents don’t remove their Korans, hands of Fatima or whatever they have hanging everywhere when I enter their home, now do they? They don’t rush about saying we must hide all religious symbols and books since our atheist daughter is arriving. They assume that I can manage to enter their home, have a wonderful visit, all without being offended and screaming atheism-phobia.

Correspondingly, why is it that you think I would need to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon from my fridge let’s say if my parents visit or for that matter other Muslim family members and friends?

Ahh the well-meaning. If only they were not always so well-meaning at my expense…

On a serious note though, this is what happens when you buy into bogus accusations. If people believe that you must even censor yourself in your own home/Facebook page to avoid causing offence, can you imagine what they expect you NOT to say in the public space…

Please, if we leave it to them, this is the beginning of the end of free expression. But luckily we’re not.



  1. Going on something of a tangent, apart from the ‘don’t offend anyone’ argument, what really gets up my nose is the demand from some quarters for me to ‘respect’ people’s religious views. I don’t respect anyone’s religious views and am offended that any person should assume/demand that I do. It’s tantamount to demanding my ‘respect’ for an individual’s political views! There is absolutely no way I would ever respect the political views of Ronald Reagan, George Dubbya, John Howard or Margaret Thatcher. I do however respect an individual’s right to hold those political views, and indeed religious views and, dare I paraphrase, will defend to the death their right to hold such views BUT no way will I ever respect any religious views! I just wish people would not demand that I justify my being an atheist. The fact is, I was born an atheist and will remain an atheist for no other reason than it stands to reason. And now for another tangent – there is a rumour going around that the Vatican is going to help bail out Italy from its economic and fiscal woes! (and pigs might fly and a child will be borne of a virgin woman!)

  2. There is absolutely nothing that an atheist can say about their beliefs that Muslims do not find offensive. To apply the “offensiveness” standard is to allow Muslims to totally censor atheism.

    Even if you were to leave Jesus and Mo out of it, just saying “I am an atheist” is to say “I don’t believe in God, Allah, Jesus, or Mohammad” as anything other than imaginary concepts or ordinary men. This is offensive to Muslims.

    Muslims need to learn that pluralistic democratic modern society is about learning to tolerate things you find offensive.

    I think rap music is offensive. I think the NFL is offensive. I think Republicans are offensive. But I don’t try to violently threaten or bully or use the law to eliminate those things.

  3. @A Hermit

    “And there is the real danger; the imposition of one religion’s beliefs on those who do not follow that religion.”

    That is the major problem with Islam. The religion of peace has no problem with violently making everybody, including those not of their belief system obey it’s rules. It is what makes Islam more dangerous than other religions in my opinion.

    All religions are equally wrong but I consider those who want to violently impose their rules on me more problematic than the ones who don’t.

    The other problem is of course that us reasonable have a really hard time relating to unreasonable people – we don’t get how a cartoon can result in somebody being killed. It’s not reasonable. But then, religion is not reasonable.

    1. “– we don’t get how a cartoon can result in somebody being killed. It’s not reasonable.”

      Well, I can easily imagine a cartoon that incites violence, and that’s where a reasonable limit to free speech might be drawn; when someone starts advocating violence against people. But that certainly isn’t the case with the Jesus and Mo cartoons; in fact it’s the response to them that carries with it a hint of violence, given the reaction to past cartoons. The people objecting to the leaflets have this all backwards.

        1. It’s all just an excuse to act like dicks.

          Different situation but yesterday I read that the leading cause of arson attacks against a pair of synagogues last month wasn’t the mentally fucked up state of the perpetrator but he fact he played (or to quote the article “was taken over by”) video games. Its quite likely that this will lead to another round of game banning legislation that will only waste public money and likely be used as another useless talking point in an attempt to stop australia getting an 18+ rating for games because society will collapse…

        2. With respect, yes there are limits to free speech, including libel and slander and any expression which can be shown to have the purpose of inciting violence (not just hatred or contempt, but actual physical violence) might (note I said MIGHT) be reasonably limited. (Think Rwanda in the early `90’s)

          That’s a pretty high bar though, and like I said the J and M stuff doesn’t even come close. And now that I try to think of an example I can’t think of a cartoon that does that, so maybe you;’er right there…

          1. The closest I can think of are some of those Protocols-type cartoons depicting Jews as globe-swallowing octopodes.

            Nonetheless, J&M aren’t even close.

      1. Oh give me a friggin’ break! When was the last time you heard of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner shows inciting violence? These cartoons are really not much difference. The stories in the Bible and Quran have incited more violence than any cartoon, but only because too many people take those stories literally.

        1. I was thinking of stuff lie this:

          “The Jan. 13 issue of Notre Dame’s student-run newspaper, The Observer, has more than sports facts and event updates for the South Bend, Ind. school.

          An oft-controversial cartoon featured in the paper, The Mobile Party, asks this question: “How do you turn a fruit into a vegetable?”

          The cartoon’s provided answer: “A baseball bat.”…”

          I’m not sure we should make that sort of thing illegal, but I damn sure wouldn’t hesitate to condemn it or demand it’s removal.

  4. I truly feel that one of the means to for religious authorities to control people is to prevent anything negative being said about a religion. Controlling the Vulgar has been done for centuries. Thought and speech control are the two big ones and those two, along with instilling fears of punishment, via a hell, have probably perpetuated religious beliefs for centuries. Maybe far longer than what would have been without such things. I think that if we as a society the world over are to advance, we cannot stop even the most offensive of speech concerning religion. BTW, during draw Muhammad Day on Facebook, even my comment (I can’t draw very well) about Hanuman bring the mountain to Muhammad and dropping it on Muhammad’s head was deleted, despite being on my FB page, despite it being no worse than a script for a Roadrunner or Animaniacs cartoon. How many times have you seen an anvil dropped on someone’s head in cartoons? All I did was have a super powerful monkey god carry mountain (as the myth goes) and instead of bring a healing plant, he dropped the mountain on Muhammad’s head, (like the saying if Muhammad won’t go to the mountain…) which all purely fictional.

    Before I go far too off topic, my point is, words, esp in cartoons, are far less harmful and the actual violence that religion does. In fact, they point out just how ridiculous religious mythical stories are and the ridiculousness of taking them literally and seriously. If anything, such freedom of speech could get people thinking (GASP! religious authorities don’t want that) and eventually help them to stop taking religion so seriously, if believe it at all.

  5. I’ve had objections in the past to people deliberately publishing stuff that plainly was offensive (cartoons portraying Muslims, or Arabs in general as savages and animals) for no reason other than to offend. I support the right to do it, but just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should…I guess my objections were more about aesthetics and good taste…

    But I don’t see how the Jesus and Mo cartoons can come up even in that context; there’s nothing in the least bit nasty or malicious in them, they are clever, thoughtful satire; this isn’t like a KKK cartoon depicting Africans as gorillas (which I would again object to while supporting their right to publish it…).

    The “offense” seems to be the depiction of the prophet in a cartoon. Apparently there is some prohibition against making such images in Islam. To which I have the response response I have to opponents of gay marriage or birth control; if you think it’s wrong don’t do it. But don’t tell others who don’t believe in your religion that THEY can’t.

    And there is the real danger; the imposition of one religion’s beliefs on those who do not follow that religion.

  6. These atheists that are not happy with One Law for All’s use of the Jesus and Mo cartoon on leaflets are going to end up giving atheism a bad name 😉

    Come on guys. Up your game please.

  7. ‘If a Muslim comes to your house you will not plaster the Jesus and Mo cartoon all over to offend them on purpose now will you?’
    No, because that makes you a dick. But if you had those already up in your home, not removing them if a Muslims visits makes you honest.

    1. Quite right. Jesus and Mo cartoons have been a regular part of the gnu online presence for years. Most of the time the cartoons don’t even specifically criticize Islam – it’s mostly comprised of criticism of aspects of Christianity, monotheism in general, theology or postmodernism.
      They are also very topical – which means that when they themselves become a hot topic for debate within the gnu community then they are more likely to feature in new episodes and appear on our sites. If the UCL Ahmadiyya group hadn’t kicked up a fuss about how “offended” they were this wouldnt have kicked off.

      In a piece of irony the Ahmadiyyas themselves are getting told to stop an exhibition because it is offending local muslims in Kirklees!
      Let’s see if the Ahmadiyyas stop doing it because they have now been told its offensive to muslims!

      1. But the Ahmadiyya group argues that it is entitled to organise the exhibition, as they consider themselves to be Muslims.

        So the answer is no, they will not stop doing the exhibition because other people find it offensive. When they offend someone, it’s their right. When we offend them, we should stop.

        1. They should go to the Humanists for support. The ones that they tried to silent. The Humanists should tell them to lie in the bed they made. But I suspect that they won’t. What do they say about being fooled twice?

    1. Me too!!

      On a more serious note:

      If I had a Muslim friend (I might, I just am not aware of any) then of course I wouldn’t offend them. Same as if I would be bringing a Christian or Jewish or Hindu friend into my home. I don’t think I’d even purposefully offend an enemy (not that I have any (except starlings… curse those birds!))

      Like Maryam said, though, I would not purposefully offend someone, but I would also not rush about trying to hide anything that might offend someone. I have various atheist and scientific books on my shelf, if my religious family is offended by them, that’s their own problem, not mine.

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