Friday, June 01, 2007

Religion Poisons Everything

Muslim prohibited from leaving the Religion of Peace.


Malaysia's top secular court on Wednesday rejected a woman's appeal to be recognized as a Christian, in a landmark case that tested the limits of religious freedom in this moderate Islamic country.

Lina Joy, who was born Azlina Jailani, had applied for a name change on her government identity card. The National Registration Department obliged but refused to drop Muslim from the religion column.

...

A three-judge Federal Court panel ruled by a 2-1 majority Wednesday that only the Islamic Shariah Court has the power to allow her to remove the word "Islam" from the religion category on her government identity card.

Judge Richard Malanjum was the only one on the panel who sided with Joy, saying it was "unreasonable" to ask her to turn to the Shariah Court because she could face criminal prosecution there. Apostasy is a crime punishable by fines and jail sentences. Offenders are often sent to prison-like rehabilitation centers.

Slackers. Everyone knows the real penalty for apostasy is death.

The situation was muddied further with the constitution describing Malaysia as a secular state but recognizing Islam as the official religion.

Joy, who began going to church in 1990 and was baptized eight years later, has been disowned by her family and has said she was forced to quit her computer sales job after clients threatened to withdraw their business.

She and her ethnic Indian Catholic boyfriend went into hiding in early 2006 amid fears they could be targeted by Muslim zealots, Joy's lawyer has said.

Joy's case sparked angry street protests by Muslim groups and led to e-mail death threats against a Muslim lawyer supporting her.


Isn't religion wonderful?

17 Comments:

Blogger Oroborous said...

[O]nly the Islamic Shariah Court has the power to allow her to remove the word "Islam" from the religion category on her government identity card.

Joy's case sparked angry street protests by Muslim groups and led to e-mail death threats against a Muslim lawyer supporting her.

More proof that Islam ain't going to the Super Bowl.

They fear competition even more than they fear women, which is saying a lot because Muslim societies are very scared of feminine power.

Brittle, weak, fearful, wilfully ignorant...

And what's with a mandatory "religion identifier" on government identity cards ?

June 01, 2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

BTW, I'm going to be away for a few weeks, leaving this afternoon.

June 01, 2007 7:04 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

How can a newspaper get away with describing such a government as "moderate Islamic"? In what universe is a government that allows religious courts to punish apostates describable as moderate?

When you have to erect barriers, legal or physical, to keep people in the group, then that should be a clue that your religion has exceeded its sell-by date. Can you say "Berlin Wall" boys and girls?

June 01, 2007 8:57 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

duck asked: "In what universe is a government that allows religious courts to punish apostates describable as moderate?"

At least they don't kill 'em. In that sense it does seem to be relatively moderate. "Moderate" in the U.S. is different than "moderate" in islamic societies.

It's funny to me that hey skipper is blaming "religion" for this instead of the specific version of religion and the specific society. It seems like blaming all fish for shark attacks or all insects for your bee sting or all people for bank robberies or ...

June 01, 2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Christians used to do the same, and some (Amish, Calvary Chapel) still do.

Just because the Christianity most Americans are familiar with has been secularized and wimpified does not mean that its fundamental predilections have disappeared. They're underground and will reappear given the right circumstances.

This poor woman's plight is just a subset of the universe of heresy-hunting. Heresy-hunting is a pure religious concept. Secularism knows it not.

June 01, 2007 12:12 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

harry eagar wrote: "Heresy-hunting is a pure religious concept. Secularism knows it not."

Really? So when secular anti-global warming folks heap ad hominem and even death theats on those who disagree (even if those who disagree are wrong), what is that exactly? Looks to me more like a problem with zealots of any ideology and less a problem with religion itself.

The idea that american christians are going to rise up and start burning witches again seems rather paranoid to me. Anything's possible though, I suppose.

June 01, 2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Indeed it is.

Secular antagonisms, no matter how violent, lack the supernatural endorsement that heresy-hunters claim.

There are disagreements among the GW fanatics, but, so far as I've heard, they have yet to convene a witch-trial in order to burn backers of, say, carbon indulgences for deviationism.

Might happen, but it hasn't. No religion can claim as much.

June 01, 2007 8:03 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Duck:

How can a newspaper get away with describing such a government as "moderate Islamic"?

The constitution itself calls for religious liberty, while allowing the Muslim majority to engage in widespread coercion.

Maybe "moderate" is a different way to say "plausible deniability."

At least they don't kill 'em. In that sense it does seem to be relatively moderate. "Moderate" in the U.S. is different than "moderate" in islamic societies.

Hardly. "Moderate" and "totalitarian" do not mix. This court decision amounts to religious totalitarianism. Which, come to think of it, is probably grossly redundant.

It's funny to me that hey skipper is blaming "religion" for this instead of the specific version of religion and the specific society.

Harry has already made the point, but I shall join in: this is what religion does when it can.

Should one particular sect of Christianity ever come to dominate the US (fat chance, as there are so many of them, luckily for everyone), it would do precisely what the Muslims are doing in Malaysia: do what their particular version of divine revelation tells them to.

All religions form exclusionary moral communities; all make universal, absolute, assertions backed by divine imprimatur.

Unfortunately, terminology tends to blur the distinction between religion and not religion. The term "secular" would be fine, except that the religious promptly lump communism and nazism within the concept of secularism, based solely on the tiniest of qualifications: the absence of a supernatural god. (In the latter instance, that distinction is somewhere between largely and flat wrong).

There is a reason for this, of course. To acknowledge that communism is a religion, albeit non-sacred, serves as a further indictment -- as if it was needed -- of the totalitarian impulse at the heart of religion.

Hence the insistence on terming communism as secularism run amok. That the conclusion they derive is tantamount to "true, religion is bad, but secularism is worse", and, therefore, very faint praise seems not to ring a bell.

But better than to acknowledge that religion is bad, and communism is worse than most.


Harry:

I first saw this story in a newspaper, with an AP byline (I'm not even sure that is the right term). When I googled a few key words to provide a link, the first hit was CBNews, an outfit that appears uniquely immune to irony.

There, the byline was CBNews.com, with the AP copyright way at the end.

Isn't that a bit sleazy?

June 02, 2007 7:05 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

No, AP (unlike, say, Reuters) is a cooperative. Each member has a right to republish the publications of the other members.

Nine-tenths of what AP puts out on its regional, national and world wires are rewrites of what members published locally first.

For routine stories (governor signs housing bill, local corporation announces new plant), AP does not indicate the original source.

And it may be a mixed source. The Honolulu AP office may combine elements of stories about the same subject in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and one of the local TV stations, perhaps with some additional reporting on its own.

If a source is proud of its work and wants everybody to know the origin, it can copyright the story, which obliges AP to indicate the source.

This is a wonderful system, about 150 years old now, which allows local papers (latterly, radio and TV stations and Web sites) quick access to professionally produced and largely reliable content.

It doesn't work so good for me, because as the only news generating operation in my county, other outlets (radio, mainly) get to use my stuff, often before my readers get home to pick up the paper, but I don't get any benefit of using theirs.

June 02, 2007 11:31 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

OT, but to continue the thought, for the benefit of digital mavens who think MSM is both corrupt and passe.

No one has even a glimmer of an idea of how the Internet will usefully replace the traditional, ink-based system of gathering information, but it is replacing it.

To take Maui, my employer supports 21 news gatherers (7 news reporters, 5 editors who also gather news, 4 sports reporters, 2 feature reporters), whose cost probably runs something over $1.7M/yr.

The Honolulu papers have 3 reporters on Maui. The 19 radio stations, 0.

There are several weeklies and monthlies and a public access cable channel, none of them to be trusted. No television reporters.
No news bloggers.

The Internet, as it has developed, has been a disaster for the information economy, because its theft of services has hollowed out the only self-supporting system yet devised for keeping an eye on what's going on.

It's been great for the disinformation economy, though.

Something for you free-marketeers to chew on.

June 02, 2007 6:26 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

That has certainly occurred to me. Miuch of what we comment about here, and what prevents the blogosphere from becoming even more of an echo chamber, is the ability to access primary source information.

Which takes money to support.

If I was The Head Dude What's in Charge, I would institute a micro-transaction system. That is, each time someone accesses something with a copyright, they get charged some small amount, say a penny, or a fraction of a penny.

That might add a few dollars, or less, to my monthly internet charge. Spread over all internet users, though, that may well provide the cash flow required to keep the primary news gatherers in business.

June 02, 2007 9:43 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

From your mouth to god's ears.

Won't happen, though. The content producers, like me, are outnumbered a hundred to one by the content consumers, and they like free stuff.

Experience shows they're not fussy about quality.

June 03, 2007 1:49 AM  
Blogger David said...

Harry: Being a free marketeer is not a religion; it doesn't promise paradise. Any particular outcome might well be sub-optimal (to use the jargon). On the whole, however, we'll be better off in a free market economy than we would be with the other thing.

On the other hand, since we don't know what we're going to end up with instead of newspapers, we can't really tell without it will be worse. I tend to agree that the future looks bleak for newspapers, but I don't think that it is as bleak for the news business.

If it were just now occurring to us that it might be useful for someone to go out and collect facts about important events that affect our lives, I doubt that we would start by cutting down a forest, pulping the wood, making paper, erecting factories, printing the news on the paper, shipping it out in trucks and then giving a bunch of papers to little kids to go toss onto everyone's front porch. That paradigm has got to change and, yes, because getting rid of all that stuff is going to reduce the barriers to entry to approximately zero, the industry will have to look much different.

But if news really can affect our lives and, better still, if it's entertaining, then people will pay to have it delivered and advertisers will pay to deliver it. That's why the Wall Street Journal, which charges for its facts and sells advertising for its opinions makes money on-line while the New York Times, which does the opposite, does not.

One other thing. Thanks to the Internet, I now read the Maui News from time to time. (The Superferry demonstration traffic jam was hilarious.) What does the Maui News do to make money from that? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

June 03, 2007 9:45 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The Maui News and its owners, Ogden, are certainly not in the forefront of using the Internet.

The banner ad on the home page sells for only $1K/mo. The market set that rate. Nobody would pay more.

$12K/yr won't buy much newsgathering.

There won't be any shortage of news about Hollywood, and news about what the president is doing this weekend will be abundant.

But right now, when the planning commission meets, I'm often the only person there. I don't see the market replacing me.

I don't think big, complex states can survive without the service that local papers provide.

++++

A conscientious reader of The Maui News would have recalled the chart we ran two weeks ago, which showed that 60K vehicles/day use that intersection.

That would be 5K/hr (more during the daytime), so that an additional 110 cars/90 min would add a whopping 0.01% to the congestion.

Melissa and I didn't do the math for our readers, but we did provide the facts.

I think that's a hell of a service for four bits.

June 03, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

Won't happen, though. The content producers, like me, are outnumbered a hundred to one by the content consumers, and they like free stuff.

I suspect the reall barrier is developing a means whereby the transaction cost is a very small portion of an already small total cost.

The success of iTunes (and the WSJ) suggests that people are willing to pay for content. $0.99 for something that I will own, and frequently use, for a long time suggests to me that a penny or so is about the right price point for professionally sourced news.

I'm not quite so pessimistic as David is regarding newspapers, so long as they change their focus to local news.

Due to my impending move, I have stopped getting the Detroit Free Press. I don't in the least miss the national / international coverage, as I have plenty of sources for that. However, I do note that I have scarcely a clue as to what is going on in the locale that constitutes right around me.

Also, I note, and this could be a sign of my advanced age (unlike AOG, I am truly both annoying and old), I still vastly prefer to read from dead trees.

June 03, 2007 1:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

Harry: It is good value for money, but people who want to save the whales by snarling up traffic are probably never going to do the math.

Skipper: On the other hand, I doubt books are going away any time soon.

June 03, 2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, that's what Lileks has been preaching. He's right, but it isn't easy to compete with TV.

(Maui is a paradise for me, because it is almost the only place in the world where there is a newspaper but no TV or radio.)

I'm not kidding myself about who consumes what news. The Maui News circulates less than 25K on an island with around 140K people.

Even if each copy is read by 2 people, that's barely a third of the population, and slightly over half the adults.

But not everybody reads all the stories. Nor, if they do read them, do they read them carefully.

It's not easy to run a popular self-government if nobody knows what's going on. If there's a better way to let them know than the dead-tree newspaper, I haven't heard about it.

If any of you have a chance, pick up a black weekly while you're traveling and compare what's in that with what you've heard or read elsewhere.

Scary.

I expect the same might be true with the Spanish press, but I cannot read Spanish.

June 03, 2007 9:12 PM  

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