Hit & Run

"No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised."

|

Enough said.

The New York Times reports a demonstration in Moscow in which Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church warned…

…liberal ideology is dangerous because it recommends that "the very fact of blasphemy and sacrilege, of the mockery of shrines, be regarded as the lawful manifestation of human freedom, as something that should be defended in modern society."

Well, yes. The Patriarch's condemnation of "blasphemy" was provoked by a performance of a "punk prayer" [YouTube] by the rock group Pussy Riot at the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The "prayer" was a protest against the Church's support of former KGB agent and president-to-be-again Vladimir Putin. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the group left peacefully when asked to do so by a priest. Instead of invoking blasphemy and condemning liberalism, the Patriarch should seek appropriate legal redress by means of laws against trespass. 

As philosopher Austin Dacey succinctly puts it in, The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in the Age of Human Rights, his lawyerly dissection of recent international efforts to outlaw blasphemy on human rights grounds:

"No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised."

Blasphemy used to be a crime against a god or gods, but politicians in Islamic and many European countries have transformed it, making it an offense to defame religions and to offend the sensibilities of believers. This is a terrible mistake which will increase religious strife in the future. To keep social peace, no one's religious beliefs should be privileged by the state.