George Galloway has described Charlie Hebdo as “a racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag.  Typical of Gorgeous George he ignores everything that he can’t get angry about, that doesn’t prove or argue with what he believes.  He ignores the magazine’s continued and long standing criticism of the Catholic Church, for instance.  Like the Pope he blames the victim.

To stand with Charlie Hebdo isn’t flowers on a celebrity’s grave, an act of condolence of a stranger.  It is to make a stand against those who say “You may not say anything about my religion, because I will be offended.”  That attitude would be unacceptable with any other notion: caricatures of politicians aren’t stopped because those who believe in their policies profoundly are upset.    Criticising someone’s home town may be downright rude, but isn’t something that can never be said.  Yet religeon demands this pass – despite not only the followers of Abraham splinting into three sects that not only disagree vehemently with each other, they can’t even agree among themselves what they believe, yet attack anyone who questions their world view as intolerant.  Einstein may not have liked Niels Bohr’s sub-atomic theories, but he did admit their correctness when proof was shown.  He didn’t feel the need to set off a bomb.

This is the response I put on HuffPo UK

Dear George.

So What.  Muslims were offended.  I am offended by many things in religion.  There isn’t a god, of any flavour.  There – I’ve offended 2 billion Christians along with 1.2 (not 1.7) billion Muslims.  I’m offended that people believing in fairy tales  stops development.  I’m am utterly sickened that Muslims flog people for suggesting Islam might be wrong.  I am completely offended by the Vatican lying about condoms not stopping AIDS.  I am incandescent with the Baptist pastor who says the US government should execute gays.

In the US a lot of hospitals are co-run with the Catholic Church.  These hospitals refuse surgical birth control to women after birth, forcing them to undergo further surgery 3 months later, which is more dangerous, or vasectomies to men who want them.

I am offended that Britain is retreating from fair treatment for all, and allowing more and more faith schools.  I am offended that one of the schools closest to me would not even countenance my application on the basis I don’t turn up at a certain building once a week, and join in their collective delusions.

I am completely incandescent that the moment any one stands up and says “Religion is basically distorted Aesops to allow bronze age man to pass on good advice”, the moment we object to myth being taught as fact, we are accused of ‘militancy’, of offending believers.  That we can’t point out the facts don’t support your fairy tales without people whining they are offended.

Well, good.  I’m glad they are offended.  I am offended every time someone claims religion is more right than science.  When they pray rather than see a doctor to cure their child.  When they insist their badly translated, badly recorded, politically distorted record of oral tradition somehow allows them special rights and privileges.  Makes their actions acceptable.

Do you know what else annoys me, George?  You do.  White European Male 21st Century- yep, I am living the best life an ordinary human being has ever had.  I won’t deny that.  But your idiotic rants any time it is suggested that non-whites are not always 100% perfect just expose your arrogance.  Any time any one questions you, you explode in conspiracy filled rage.  I watched a BBC reporter ask you a question.  It challenged you, but it was standard journalistic fare:  it was actually, on examination, a really soft question- it allowed you to make your point:- he couldn’t have been any easier on you.  But no.  You had to scream and rant about how the BBC was setting you up.  You didn’t look like a victim.  You looked like an idiot.

Je suis Charlie has been over used, over used by people who don’t really understand the implication.  If you ban Charlie Hebbo, because it offends, you should ban Gay Times, because that also offends Muslims.  You should ban The Pink Paper because it may upset Catholics.  See, you don’t get to choose when deciding if to upset a religion.  They are near-inflexible monoliths that change slowly, often when there is no other choice.  US Christians persecute Muslims.  They persecute Jews.  They persecute Atheists, and when told they can’t they cry religious suppression.  Boko Harem burns churches, not because of a cartoon, though that is the excuse this week, but because those people are not Muslim.  Both those groups are offended.

I have thought about it.  I decide what I decide not because of any knee-jerk reaction, but because I conclude it is the right thing to do.

Je Suis Charlie

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