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  1. A few thoughts:

    1. Your article fails to make the crucial distinction between “ideas” and “people.” There is nothing xenophobic, intolerant or indecent about criticizing – even in an incendiary way – the ideas that people hold. Religions, however one chooses to construe them, are systems of ideas and beliefs and, as such, have consequences for people in the real world. These consequences range anywhere from charitable fundraising to immiserating women, free thinkers, and homosexuals (to say nothing about killing cartoonists!). Thus, I find the relative immunity from ridicule that religion has enjoyed deeply puzzling.

    2. Your Westboro Baptist Church example is not a good argument. When the WBC pickets the funeral of a fallen soldier, they are disparaging the memory of a living, breathing human being. Religions, on the other hand, are neither living nor breathing. They are smorgasbords of ideologies, injunctions, doctrines, and cultural practices and, as such, can – and should – be disparaged without accusations of indecency.

    3. Your WBC example is wrongheaded in another way – namely, it fails to make the distinction between freely expressing oneself and FORCING others to listen to that expression. For example, if I write an article that calls adherence to organized religion “utterly ridiculous” and “a harbinger of an intellectual infant,” I harm no one. But if, while studying at my local Starbucks, I see an old lady saying the rosary to herself and then proceed to berate her with anti-religious mockery, I have indeed behaved badly.

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