I've just sent an op-ed concerning our Blasphemy Day festivities to the Daily Illini, but I have a sinking feeling that it will never actually see the light of day. That being said, I thought I'd post it here alongside these photos from our activities on the quad. If you didn't make it to the booth, you missed out!
I am writing as a member of the Illini Secular Student Alliance. You may have seen us on the quad this past Thursday celebrating Blasphemy Day, a holiday established in response to the absolute pandemonium that followed a Danish newspaper’s 2005 satirical depiction of the prophet Muhammad. While this more recent blasphemous incident no doubt remains emblazoned in your memory, I think history has shown definitively that – for all the flak they garner – most blasphemers have got the right idea.
Countries with a state church inevitably boast the most stringent blasphemy laws, and those laws tend to precede completely heinous ramifications. Even now, there are places in which blasphemers are violently put to death, whether in accordance with the law or at the hands of their peers. For this reason, the ISSA has vowed to champion first amendment rights. When we stand on the quad and ask you to throw "stones" (i.e. water balloons, though most religious texts would advise the former) at us heathens, we're laboring to raise awareness of a simple truth: You and everyone you know have blasphemed by someone's standards. Taking God's name in vain is blasphemous from a Christian perspective, for instance, and Christianity in its entirety is blasphemous in Islam. Indeed, my views as an atheist are utterly profane to the religious majority.
That being said, I have two words for you: Lighten up!
It has been repeated, ad nauseam, that actions speak louder than words and stated, in much the same vein but rather more astutely, that "words divide us, actions unite us." Let’s resolve to judge others by their doings, not their sayings – however acrimonious – and to never, ever infringe upon another’s right to free speech. If nothing else, a healthy dose of blasphemy reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.