Blasphemy Day celebrates free speech in face of oppression

I am a member of the Illini Secular Student Alliance, writing to remind the University student body that International Blasphemy Rights Day is this Sunday, Sept. 30. For those who do not know, Blasphemy Day began in 2009 as a way to celebrate free speech in the face of governments that outlaw writing and speaking of religion in a negative light. Most blasphemy laws are vague and, as such, allow for widespread interpretation that favors the prosecution of those practicing free speech. Surprisingly, many of those prosecuted live in first-world countries. And while those found guilty of blasphemy in the first-world deal only with fines, short-term prison sentences and the lack of a freedom they find in every other facet of their lives, third-world countries are much less forgiving, often sentencing blasphemers to death.

Blasphemy Day is not intended to offend the religious; it simply encourages free speech in a cultural junction where groups of people should not interpret opinions as slander or defamation against individuals, and where offending such groups should not, by itself, be reason enough to restrict the speech of individuals or groups when that speech stands in opposition to another’s ideas or beliefs. In this sense, Blasphemy Day is a celebration of not taking oneself or one’s beliefs too seriously.

In honor of this important holiday, ISSA will proudly host comedian and banned-from-TV blasphemer Jamie Kilstein at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in Room 112 of the Chemistry Annex. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend. The next day, we will practice a variety of fun, informative and blasphemous activities on the Quad, including blow-dry de-baptisms for those who are still symbolically wet from childhood indoctrination. We hope you’ll join in the festivities!

*Neal Christensen*,

Senior in LAS