As Blasphemy Rights Day approaches, I am reminded of the pains and troubles which can arise in populations where the freedom to express is limited or denied. Take for example the old system of dealing with sexuality in the military. Service men and women’s right to be open about their personal lives with their fellows was denied, and openness was responded to with discharge and even denial of the veteran’s achievements in uniform.
Even more blatant to me is the current violence towards those who dare speak out against violent Muslim groups in Saudi Arabia. By contrast, I have the freedom to call for the separation of church from state. I have the freedom to question the beliefs of my country’s majority. I have the freedom to condemn violence and negligent harm committed in the name of religious beliefs without the fear of being beaten, lashed, or imprisoned.
I am privileged to live in a country in which we can celebrate our right to speak out against such violence. Though limits may still be placed on some of us by family, community, or majority on what we can safely proclaim, I am privileged to live in a country where they are in the wrong for oppression, not I for claiming my rights.