Readers React: Religion, free speech and terror

To the editor: It would seem that one of the obvious strengths of an evolved God-like figure would be the ability to accept being satirized.  ( “The right to mock religion,” Editorial, Jan. 8 and “ Terrorist attack stuns Paris,” Jan. 8)

The Muslim world — as well as leaders of all religions — would be best served taking to the airwaves in droves to condemn those who continue to commit the ultimate act of hypocrisy with tragic misguided acts in defense of someone they consider a prophet of God.

If Muhammad, and for that matter Jesus Christ, were here today, I am convinced they would be the first to the microphones.

Kip Gilman, Malibu


To the editor: Free speech is not OK, but murder is? Sadly, despite magical belief in the glorious afterlife of a martyr, victims and perpetrators eventually wind up in the same place — in the ground.

Nancy Goodman Lawrence,  Los Angeles

To the editor: Why are “cherished beliefs” in religion so powerful and important to a person that they are willing to kill others in “defense” of those beliefs?

The reason is clear. Once a person has invested so much of his psyche in a world view (a religion), and has not subjected that long-held view to serious scrutiny, challenges to it are freighted with implications about the believer’s very rationality and self-image.


Society has shown far too much deference to religion and its irrational underpinnings.

David Burdick, Ridgecrest

To the editor: Imagine a world without religion.

No 9/11, no Crusaders, no witch hunts, no India/Pakistan partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim mass persecutions, no “honor killings,” no bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing the gullible of their money.

God? His big mistake was turning religion over to man.

Christopher Knopf, Santa Monica

To the editor: Did you notice the outcry of condemnation from Muslim clerics and political leaders of Muslim countries about the terrorist attacks in Paris?

Neither did I.


The most frequent target of Muslim terrorists, though, seems to be other Muslims.

Islam claims to be a religion of peace, but I’m waiting for the evidence.

Daniel Fink, Beverly Hills

To the editor: News flash: The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were not “profane” as your sub-headline indicated. They were humorous. Cowering already, are we?

William P. Bekkala, West Hollywood

To the editor: I’m sure I’m in a very tiny portion of the minority … but I too would be upset if my religion were subject to ridicule and disrespect. I’m baffled by the audacity of the bulk of the free world who support this brand of free press.

The humorist cartoons printed in Charlie Hebdo seem to purposely make fun of Islam. Why? Why is it considered OK to make fun of someone else’s religion? Didn’t we go through this with the rise of Hitler and the depiction of the Jewish race as being subhuman and not worthy of life on earth?

Rob Macfarlane, Newport Beach


To the editor: I would like to wholeheartedly condemn the action of these terrorists, who are so bizarre and absolutely out of whack. Having said that, it is known to all that radicals and fanatics cannot stomach any jokes or cartoons about the prophet Muhammad, so why do it?

There are thousands of other topics and cartoons that can be produced that would not hurt the sentiments of Muslims.

Arif A. Khan, Rancho Cucamonga

To the editor: As Voltaire, in the 18th century, said:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Edward Shaw, Laguna Beach

To the editor: Most of the Muslim world lies in geographical areas with historically rooted cultures of honor.

These cultures arose as patriarchal, herding societies evolved from earlier hunter-gatherer groups.

In this setting, no man could afford to appear weak, or vulnerable to livestock raids, which could bankrupt a family/clan overnight.

Therefore, all insults had to be answered forcefully, sometimes with lethal force. Much more than a family’s reputation was at stake, but honor became the operative concept.

Freedom of speech is not yet a core universal value.

Understanding a seemingly atavistic world view can help citizens, peacemakers and politicians in their efforts to head off future tragedies.

Deborah W. Elliott, Pacific Palisades

To the editor: The terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo gives us another reason (as if we need one) to declare war on the Islamists:

They have no sense of humor.

Ray Sherman, Duarte

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