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The evil of Islamist intolerance

By Gennady Stolyarov II
web posted February 6, 2006

Lebanese Islamist demonstrators gather in front of the Danish consulate after setting fire to it in Beirut on February 5
Lebanese Islamist demonstrators gather in front of the Danish consulate after setting fire to it in Beirut on February 5

The recent violent acts by Islamic fundamentalists against Danish embassies and citizens demonstrate the naked evil of religious intolerance. The demands of the fundamentalists to suppress all images, cartoons, and caricatures of Mohammed are not demands to respect religion. Rather, the fundamentalists seek to coercively suppress all opinions that do not endorse their religion. The activities of Islamic fundamentalists are among the greatest threats to liberty of speech and conscience today.

In a free society, every man has the essential right of property: to use his possessions as he sees fit. From this property right, an absolute freedom of expression can be derived: the mind and mouth of every man are his property. A free society must allow him to think and say what he will without fear of violent retribution. If a man follows a religion, he ought to be allowed to act accordingly. If, however, his mind has reached conclusions critical of a particular religion or of religion in general, he should also be allowed to express them publicly. This right extends to the owners of newspapers, who ought to be allowed to publish whatever they desire. Every theist and atheist has the legal and moral obligation to abstain from coercing those with contrary ideas.

If one dislikes the ideas of another, one should be free to denounce these ideas with words and art. The Danish newspapers that printed the caricatures of Mohammed did precisely this. The cartoonists considered the Islamic prohibition against pictures of Mohammed to be silly and irrational; they thus ridiculed its superstitious nature. Yet they also expressed a much more important truth: that the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism lead directly to the terrorists’ horrific bombing attacks. Due to the ubiquity of modern political correctness, far too few people have understood this fact. In defiance of the mainstream, the cartoonists had the heroic courage to pronounce it in public.

People in the Western world should not stoop to respecting the fundamentalists’ demands. Islamic fundamentalists are barbarians who want to kill all dissidents against their coercively intolerant ideology. We should send a strong signal to the fundamentalists: civilized people absolutely refuse to tolerate violence against free expression. Let us have no mercy or toleration for intolerant savages. In a genuinely free society, anyone who kills another for religious reasons ought himself receive the death penalty.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, The Autonomist, Le Quebecois Libre, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

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