Feasibility Study

How can you have anti-blasphemy laws in a country with more than one major religion? What is permissible for one group will be forbidden to another, what is obligatory for you is optional or absurd or immoral to me. You can’t be a good pluralist and mandate inoffensiveness.

A story comes to mind, told me by a Maronite friend from Lebanon. As children, he and his friends used to gather on the corner and play marbles. There were Christian kids, Muslim kids, maybe a Druze or two. And as they played, they shouted at each other in Arabic, learning each other’s favorite swear words and oaths. The little Muslims said: “Mother of God, I will knock your marble out of the circle!” The little Christians said, “By the beard of the Prophet, that was a good shot!” The parents heard this and had a little meeting: henceforth, when they played, the children would have to speak French or English.

But what if there’s not another language to take refuge in?

One thought on “Feasibility Study

  1. Must, alas, cite Renan: “Je conçois l’État reconnaissant un seul culte; je le conçois ne reconnaissant aucun culte; mais je ne le conçois pas reconnaissant tous les cultes.” _L’Avenir de la science_ (1890; rpt. Flammarion, 1995), p. 369.

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