Saturday, February 02, 2008

My E-Mail to the Afghan Embassy Regarding Pervez Kambakhsh

Below is the text of my letter to the Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States, Said T. Jawad. I also intend to send the letter via snail mail to the Embassy, which is located at:

Embassy of Afghanistan
2341 Wyoming Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

The website for the embassy is http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/.


Dear Ambassador Jawad,

I am writing to you to express my anger and dismay at your nation's Senate issuing its support for the death sentence for Mr. Pervez Kambaksh for the supposed crime of blasphemy.

Permit me to cut right to the heart of the matter by stating very plainly that no person on the face of this Earth deserves to die for expressing an opinion that is critical of the religious beliefs of others. No one questions the right of an individual to be deeply committed to his or her religious faith, and the free exercise of one's religious faith or to not believe in any religion at all, is one of the most cherished liberties here in the United States. In fact, there is considerable evidence to support the conclusion that the separation of church and state in the United States is the reason why religious participation here is greater than in countries that have established churches.

But, and this is equally important, no one has the right not to be offended by the propagation of opinions that run counter to one's religious faith. When religious zealots try to suppress speech that is critical of or contrary to established religious dogma, then such a society impoverishes itself. No society can hope to improve the material welfare of its people when legitimate fields of inquiry are declared to be off limits to discussion. Put it this way, imagine a society where many people suffered from the ravages of polio, but the idea of administering vaccines was considered an abomination in the eyes of God. Would such a society have any hope of eliminating the scourge of polio? How then can one hope to address the problems that result from the enforced inequality of the sexes and the codification of an inferior status for women if criticizing the religious justification for such misogynist attitudes is itself deemed a crime worthy of the death penalty?

If there in fact is a God that created our universe and watches over us in judgment of our deeds, then the very idea of blasphemy laws should be an insult to such a God. Consider the vastness of space and the countless galaxies, stars and planets that reside within it. Does such a being need mere mortal men to kill on its behalf a man who expresses opinions that might run counter to the laws of this God when God itself presumably has the power to judge and sentence such a man? Does a lion need mice to kill on its behalf, or does the lion itself kill what it chooses to kill?

I call on the courts and elected government of the people of Afghanistan to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy and free Pervez Kambaksh.

Respectfully yours

7 comments:

Brian said...

Great e-mail Tommy. I loved the part about the lion and the mice. Of course you've just contradicted half of the Old Testament and a good portion of the Koran, so I don't know if a bunch of Islamic extremists will appreciate it too much.

Tommy said...

Hi Brian. Thanks. Since I became an atheist, I found it odd that a being allegedly as powerful as the creator of the universe needs us puny humans to enforce its will. Why not just cause blashpemers to spontaneously combust? That would put an end to the blasphemy problem. And it wouldn't put an end to free will, because people would still be free to utter blasphemous words, they would just do so knowing that the consequences would be immediate and severe.

Stardust said...

Great email, tommy. I too liked the lion and the mice analogy.

John Moeller said...

Tommy,

I think that you get straight to the issue when you talk about lions and mice, and you conclude quite well.

However, I'm confused about your wording here:

"...no one has the right not to be offended by the propagation of opinions that run counter to one's religious faith."

I don't quite understand this one. This seems to imply that if I were a Muslim, that I would be obligated to find offense at blasphemy. Or are you speaking of the state of affairs in Afghanistan?

Sorry, I'm a little confused.

Tommy said...

Hi John,

Sorry if that wasn't clear. What I meant was that just because deeply religious people are easily offended by expressions of opinion that are considered blasphemous to religious people does not mean that society is obligated to shield them from the expression of such opinions so that they cannot be offended in the first place. In other words, if you believe that your faith mandates that women are treated subordinate and you think it blasphemous to say otherwise, you don't have the right to prevent others from publicly criticizing your interpretation of your religion, no matter how much it might offend you. I hope that clarifies things!

Kevin said...

Hey Tommy, guess who's name is going to be added to the fatwa list... :-)

HarryNads said...

You should have asked them to serve up proof of the existence of his religious God. How can you blasphemize (sp?) a non-exisistant thing? :)