A definition of a humanist
One who does not need the promise of a heaven nor the threat of a hell to behave decently towards others and lead a good life. Humanism is living and thinking without the need of, or recourse to, belief in an afterlife peopled by ‘the gods’. It is an alternative way of living and thinking that is equally valid and worthy of respect as anything else that human beings believe in.
To be able to state what one is thinking with honest and reasonable approach, without making the listener feel excessively uncomfortable, is probably the best way to describe oneself as having ‘free speech’. After centuries of developing the ability to speak about all that one believes in, it seems now the citizens of Great Britain are being told they cannot speak freely, as that may cause offence to people who have come to this country and become citizens for they think and feel differently about certain topics and subjects.
It has long been the custom of the British people to visit (often to dominate!) other nations. Yet wherever we have done so, we have rarely sought to deprive the people of that country with their usual customs and religious beliefs. I know of no incident where British people have influenced another people by saying ‘you will believe what we believe and if you do not, we shall put you to death’
Defence of Free Speech
It is of paramount importance to strongly defend one’s ability to express one’s thoughts and feelings about almost all subjects. No one should have the right to tell you what you can say about any topic or subject that interests you. As a modern example – I do not like Salmon Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’. It is not the kind of story book that I like to read. It is interesting. Basically the story is offensive to Mohammedans as it implies that it was ‘Satan’ not ‘Allah’ that saved the life of their prophet Mohammed. But I defend the author’s right to write such a book.
Why ‘Satanic Verses’?
Basically it is offensive to Mohammedans because Mohammed was being persecuted by the people of Mecca because he was seeking to destroy their religious belief in gods named al-Lat, al-Uzzah, and al-Manat.
Then Mohammed to save his life decreed in one of his ‘revelations’ that these gods were also real and that the ‘revelation’ had come from Satan not Allah. Thus the Mecca authorities allowed him to live and be safe. This is the story which began the ‘Satanic Verses’ and Mr.Rushdie took it as part of his story book.
Good manners with Free Speech
Good manners towards others is merely part of free speech one enjoys. I say, and always have said, to people who have religious belief that if it makes them happy they are entitled to keep it. I tell them I am far too intelligent to accept something as true that cannot be proved to be so. If they attempt to preach their rightness (not discuss it sensibly!) then I politely tell them I have not been that stupid since I was twelve years of age, and not likely at my age to lose my intelligence. If they persist, I insist on revealing my pity for them and encourage them to expand their knowledge.
The Thinking Child's God
The best gift you could give to anyone you love and care for - especially the young, but for all thinking people of any age