Monday, November 08, 2004
First Amendment freedoms include the right to criticize Islam and Muhammad.
To: All BookstoresYou can read Prophet Of Doom for free online here, and you can listen to Craig Winn interviewed by Chaim Ben Pesach here, here, and here.
We the undersigned are shocked and appalled by recent Muslim attempts to stifle circulation of Craig Winn's "Prophet of Doom," by demanding that bookstores stop carrying it and that its publication cease, via the petition "Stop Hatred and Misinformation about the Best of Creation."
As firm supporters of First Amendment freedoms, we demand that authors critical of Islam (or any other religion) be given full First Amendment protection.
Insofar as the United States of America is founded on a separation of church and state, the charge of blasphemy is utterly inapplicable in US courts. Moreover, Muslims must realize that their religion, however dear it may be to them or however many followers adhere to it, is in no way exempt from being subjected to rationalist critique, as has been the case for centuries with the other major religions.
We are reminded of a number of controversial attempts by Christians to stifle availability of “blasphemous materials,” including: the painting “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano and “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Martin Scorsese. In both cases, despite the fact that millions of devout Christians felt their sensibilities deeply offended, the artists were nonetheless fully within their rights to circulate their works. Craig Winn equally is within his rights by publishing and distributing his book, and Muslims must realize that.
Given efforts by Muslims around the world to stifle criticism of their religion, in many cases through the use of violence (the most famous example of which being the Salman Rushdie affair), we consider the Muslim petition demanding censorship to be little more than a scare tactic to intimidate the author from publishing his book. Whether we agree with the content of the author’s book is irrelevant; the simple fact that Muslims are trying to intimidate him from exercising his First Amendment freedoms urges us to demand that bookstores continue circulating this book as they please. Particularly in response to the recent murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker critical of the mistreatment of Muslim women, we feel it necessary that all supporters of free expression take a stand against Islamist scare tactics. Thus, we demand that all bookstores ignore such scare tactics and make Mr. Winn’s book readily available, in accordance with customer demand.