Sull’ultimo numero di Free Inquiry (26, n. 4, giugno-luglio 2006, p. 21) è apparso un articolo di Peter Singer, «The Freedom to Ridicule Religion and Deny the Holocaust» (che nella parte dedicata al negazionismo riprende un articolo precedente apparso sul Jerusalem Post, «David Irving has a right to free speech, too», 1 marzo 2006).
Freedom of speech is important, and it must include the freedom to say what everyone else believes to be false, and even what many people take to be offensive. Religion remains a major obstacle to basic reforms that reduce unnecessary suffering. Think of issues like contraception, abortion, the status of women in society, the use of embryos for medical research, physician-assisted suicide, attitudes towards homosexuality, and the treatment of animals. In each case, somewhere in the world, religious beliefs have been a barrier to changes that would make the world more sustainable, freer, and more humane.
So, we must preserve our freedom to deny the existence of God and to criticize the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, and Buddha, as reported in texts that billions of people regard as sacred. Since it is sometimes necessary to use a little humor to prick the membrane of sanctimonious piety that frequently surrounds religious teachings, freedom of expression must include the freedom to ridicule as well.