All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.

I don’t respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don’t respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of “prejudice” or “ignorance”, but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.

When you demand “respect”, you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.

But a free society cannot be structured to soothe the hardcore faithful. It is based on a deal. You have an absolute right to voice your beliefs – but the price is that I too have a right to respond as I wish. Neither of us can set aside the rules and demand to be protected from offence.

Read this beautifully articulated argument by Johann Hari in its entirety here.


6 Responses to “Respect”

  1. Great article! Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. I ❤ Johann Hari.
    I used to read the Independent every day. I have no idea why I stopped.
    Thanks for giving me a reason to start again 🙂

  3. @naren You’re welcome sir.

    @deadra Oh cool; I’m a big fan of Johann Hari too. This article blew me away.

  4. Dude, that article was awesome!!

  5. 5 ArtyP

    whole lot of fun you are mister. 🙂

  6. 6 >E:H<

    I became a fan of johann hari too after reading a couple of his articles. since the statesman thing.
    great blog, oh senior. been gouging over most of your posts.
    by the way, this is one of your juniors from the jesus college.

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