Church of Satan Sigil of Baphomet

12 Dead in Paris: Theist Fanaticism Strikes Again

With masked gunmen having murdered many of the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, afterwards being heard to have shouted “We have avenged the Prophet Mohamed,” we have yet more evidence of the murderous madness of theism. Here’s a fresh atrocity to add to those I discussed in my New Year’s Eve message. Even I was surprised at the scope of this attack, meant to punish a magazine which had mocked Islamic taboos by printing cartoons that poked fun at their irrational beliefs. This publication had been fire-bombed in the past, so the police on the premises for security were also murdered.

In Western nations, we’ve cultivated pluralism of views; mockery of one’s opposition has long been part of the arena wherein ideas clash. We had reached a point where we don’t tolerate the use of physical force in that realm. These radical theists have brought guns and bombs to a an “idea fight.” Now Western nations must seriously consider how to effectively deal with those who are going back to the old ways in which competing religions engaged one another.

Appeasement clearly does not work, as it never does when one side cannot tolerate any opposition or contrary views and practices. Under current First World social contracts, murderers are incarcerated and in some places still executed, though the latter has been a dwindling practice. With religious fanatics, those punishments don’t currently seem to be deterrents. Death incurred by killing for one’s cause is lauded, and believed to be honored in a fictional afterlife. That tends to be what inspires suicide bombers in their heinous endeavors. One has to wonder if any negative reinforcement might be effective as a means for lessening these barbaric behaviors? Does one need to respond with equal barbarism based on their religious beliefs? The effectiveness of current air strikes against people who profess allegiance to these fanatical beliefs on their home turf has yet to be determined. Some nations might be spurred on by such violence inside their borders towards enacting humiliating and excruciating public executions for the culprits, with their remains defiled in a precise manner to deny them their mythical after-life rewards. But would that give the fanatics a reason to reconsider, or would it incite escalated attacks?

What if the satirists and comedians of the world stood up for their slaughtered colleagues and mounted a global campaign of ridicule against the beliefs of their killers? Comedy Central could broadcast films that have lampooned such beliefs around the clock. Publications could release cartoons jeering at those bigots. Sketch comedians could taunt their poisonous world views. Could sarcasm and jests be effective, if used en masse? The sorts who killed the staff and their guards at Charlie Hebdo may attempt to execute others who follow in the footsteps of those who spoke their minds, but if a large enough backlash of taunts and gibes were unleashed, one has to wonder at the possible consequences.

Most Western nations will address such crimes based on their existing legal systems, but if acts of terrorism on their home soil continue and possibly ramp up, then they may begin to seek other means for dealing with the perpetrators. The recent exposure of the sanctioned use of torture by US agencies when dealing with individuals suspected of having information relevant to possible terrorist attacks demonstrates a common human response. When in combat with those considered a threat to one’s society, the values professed by such nations and shared amongst its peoples may not be applied to those who are in armed conflict against them. History shows us that this is nothing new, but it will be crucial to our future civilization as to how this conflict evolves and eventually finds resolution.

I join many others who uphold the value of freedom of expression in mourning the unjust deaths of these brave individuals. 

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore