This is pretty much guaranteed to piss off just about everyone who reads it, I’m sure, but I recently got into a discussion on a forum with someone who was incensed over the jailings, beatings and executions of atheist bloggers in Muslim countries. Yes, it is likely that most people reading this agree that the laws in these countries, often based on Sharia law, are distasteful. That doesn’t stop it from being the law of the land.
See, there are lots of people, particularly in the United States, who are wholly misinformed about their place in reality. They are sure that everyone on the planet lives under the Constitution of the United States and shares all of the rights and privileges that we do. They are wrong. Our laws stop at our borders. Anyone who lives outside of our borders has to deal with the actual laws and rights available in their own little corner of the world. I fear that a lot of people who spend time online with those in the western world get deluded into thinking that they have these magical rights when, in reality, they have nothing of the sort.
It’s usually not the people that quietly stop believing in Islam and live their lives privately as an atheist, those people don’t get caught very often. It’s the idiots who go out of their way to antagonize the society in which they live and blatantly shove their apostasy in the face of the authorities that bug me. Just because you don’t like the law doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow it or pay the consequences. And these people knew the consequences, in almost all cases, they lived in the society for their entire lives. They openly violated the law and then were shocked when they were carried off to jail for whatever punishment the country deemed proper. This didn’t come out of the blue, nobody was surprised when the authorities showed up on their doorstep and even if they did, ignorance of the law is no excuse. People need to stop acting stupidly and stop pretending they have rights they simply do not have.
Don’t give me the “civil disobedience” line either. Civil disobedience is not a way to break the law and get away scott free. In fact, the whole point of civil disobedience is to break the law, get caught and be prosecuted, such that you bring attention to the injustice of the laws themselves. If you’re not willing to suffer the consequences of your civil disobedience, then you’re just being a coward. I’m willing to bet that none of these bloggers ever gave a moment’s thought to what might happen to them if they were caught. This isn’t civil disobedience, this is abject stupidity.
People like Raif Badawi, who openly flaunt their violation of the law and get what they have coming to them are not victims. Yes, I think the laws under which he was sentenced are idiotic, that means somewhere between jack and shit. If he wanted to speak out against Islam, his first move should have been to get the hell out of Dodge, maybe going to Canada where his wife and children now have asylum. It is not bright to punch the society in the nose and then pretend that you shouldn’t be held accountable for it. Whatever happens to him is a tragedy, that doesn’t mean it isn’t entirely legal. No matter how many times Amnesty International claims he’s imprisoned for “exercising his right to freedom of expression”, that doesn’t mean he actually has that right. People need to disabuse themselves of that silly notion. It’s nonsense.
So please, before anyone screams about how horrible and awful it is that people in other parts of the world ought to be able to break the law with impunity, realize that you and your local rights and privileges mean precisely dick to the situation at hand. Let’s deal with reality as it actually exists instead of pretending that your political fantasies have any bearing whatsoever on the situation.