I have just published a book that could get me killed.
That risk is the price I pay today to speak freely on certain subjects.
In The Kafir Project I presented, in the context of a fictional story, real archaeological evidence against the historicity of the Abrahamic scriptures, including the Qur’an. Have I abused my right to free speech there? Some people are arguing that I and others like me have done just that.
I say you have no more right to suggest that I, or the Bangladeshi bloggers, or the satirists at Charlie Hebdo brought this all on ourselves by what we’ve written than you have to question what kind of dress a woman was wearing when she was raped.
"Hey, look what she was walking around in. She was asking for it."
It's also been suggested that we censor ourselves, because of what we could expect to happen if we speak critically about Islam in particular. The analogy of the crowded theater and shouting "fire" is offered here. That's a false analogy and I'll tell you why right now.
If I shout "fire" in a crowded theater (where there is no fire), I'm guilty of inciting a reasonable fear in my fellow man and causing him harm through his justifiable reaction.
The key words here are reasonable and justifiable.
It is not reasonable or justifiable to go on a murderous rampage over a cartoon or a blog post. And what if we allow ourselves to be held hostage by the possibility, even the probability of an unreasonable, unjustifiable reaction? Well then, we have crowned the craziest, most extreme and violent among us as kings over us all.
No one has the right never to be offended.
Besides it being a matter of placing blame rather than taking responsibility for one’s own emotional life, the right never to be offended simply doesn’t exist. In reality that’s always just an excuse for taking away someone’s actual right to speak her or his mind. And more importantly, that one could be offended to the point of actual emotional injury by a cartoon or a post on the internet only demonstrates the weakness of a puny character.
To those who would pass capital judgement on me, here is my closing verdict on you.
If the edifice of your religious beliefs can be shaken by the weight of a drawing or the breeze of another man's words ... then its foundation is probably rotten.