Looks like the following quote is acceptable content under current Mozilla Planet's policy, and a rather pertinent answer to this now extremely popular post:

“The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was that we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.”
― Bill Maher, Religulous

31 Responses to “All Speech is Free Speech”

  1. #1 Dan says:

    "Looks like the following quote is acceptable content under current Mozilla Planet’s policy"

    Did you previously think it wouldn't be acceptable? Why?

  2. #2 Giorgio says:

    I actually tested myself in the past that PM is quite tolerant about syndicated content (for instance, I happened to decorate with archeporn one of my very first syndicated posts and managed to be billed as homophobic myself).

    I was just trying to recap the situation in one line, for people (a lot, it seems) who believed this was a heavily moderated, strictly tech-oriented and politically correct sandbox.

    However, my point is that the right of holding and voicing disagreeable opinions needs to be protected by any means (likewise the right to ridicule them); but that advocating or enacting legislation against minorities and/or inspired by the supposed will of a fictional almighty character should be banned everywhere (not just in Iran or in Saudi Arabia).

  3. #3 Jeff Walden says:

    Yup, it's perfectly acceptable. Doesn't mean I won't move on in short order from it, but it is indeed entirely fine.

  4. #4 Robert Kaiser says:

    Sure, it's very acceptable. And it probably will not be shot down to the degree that that other post has been, though this quote is full of hate and wrongs, IMHO way more than the other one, but this quote fits the establishment. In any case, I'm happy to read all the facets of peopl in the Mozilla community on Planet, as that's what it's all about.

  5. #5 Björn says:

    Humm, Maher might have been inspired by a speech by William Kingdon Clifford on this one.

  6. #6 Gary says:

    My friend is a U.S. special forces soldier. He trains "locals" in Afghanistan to be cops and soldiers. The biggest problem he has in "educating" them is overcoming their religious fantasies. A U.S. soldier sees a mine field and takes a detour around it. The Afghan sees the same mine field and walks right through it. Why does he walk through it? Because in his mind he will live if it's God's will. Whether he lives or dies has nothing to do with the choices he makes; it's all up to God.

  7. #7 Björn says:

    Re-read Clifford's speech and I take back what I said in my previous comment, only the conclusions are similar (don't give in to the "comfort" of an irrational doctrine).

    For anyone who is interested in what Clifford said: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Ethics_of_Belief

  8. #8 Mysterious Andy says:

    @Robert Kaiser:

    You're 100% right on freedom of speech, and I (as just a humble fan/idiot user/sometime bug reporter) would think it a great loss if Mozilla started culling or censoring p.m.o. Sure, shit might blow up, but there is no growth without conflict or understanding without exposure.

    FYI, a 2005 poll indicated about 1/4 of Germans and 1/5 of the UK did not profess belief in a "spirit or life force" or a god. Atheists may be overrepresented online and in the San Francisco Bay Area, but they are far from "the establishment".


    Maher may have chosen incendiary language, but I think you're right about its applicability here.

  9. #9 Asa Dotzler says:

    If you enjoy having planet that personalizes the people on the project and helps you learn more about them than the particular bits of code or whatever that they're working on, you should speak up because those who would have an editorial regime put in place are going to be vocal about it. Let your voice be heard. http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla.governance/browse_thread/thread/6abe8b6a24eb3102/952101e4dd0bd0c7

  10. #10 AnonymousCoward says:

    The quote is acceptable. It increases light on the topic. As does the post from the Nazarene-on-a-stick believer.

    Irony abounds.
    Irony is the contrast experienced by an audience witnessing an "other" who're experiencing something from a more limited perspective.

    I despise all moves to reduce the ironies possible through public discourse. Publish what you think and let me enjoy the effect of whatever different knowledge I possess; I'll give you an ironic frisson in return whenever I feel moved to publish my own thoughts.
    Sadly,I'm not facile enough to believe that much else can be achieved through public discourse.
    And I'm not really sure that Asa's idea that the knowledge of the person behind the developer, that can be gained from formally published stuff (as opposed to the reputation a person gets via gossip/third party reports) will mean all that much to anyone having anything to do with the Mozilla ecosystem. My small circles were attracted to Mozilla by the anarchy inherent in its diversity.

    Fuck management.

    @Andy, re the irony of your misrepresenting Robert Kaiser's use of "establishment". Thanks for that :-)

  11. #11 Thrawn says:

    Hmm...quite a bit of vitriol in the quote, but yes, it's within a blog author's rights to post it.

    I think that there's a lot more to the argument for heterosexual-only marriage than claiming that God has decreed it. I mean, we have thousands or millions of years of evolutionary history based on heterosexual relationships, and only a few years, or maybe decades, of widespread homosexual relationships. So we really can't be sure of the social impact of declaring those relationships to be equivalent. Can we be sure that homosexual relationships are a good thing? Especially if we explicitly discard the idea of a higher power declaring what is right and wrong?

    The simple fact of the matter is that recognising same-sex marriage on a global scale would mean operating society on a different basis to the rest of history, and we just don't know what effects that would have in a generation or two. That's not in any way a religious argument; in fact, if you're an evolutionist, then you have millions of years of history involving heterosexual reproduction, whereas if you're a creationist, you might only consider a few thousand. Either way, it makes sense to put the brakes on and very carefully consider any change that is so closely connected to the origin and continuance of our species.

    It's not just a religious issue. The "now extremely popular blog post" didn't make a religious argument. It's first and foremost a debate about what types of relationships should be a) permitted and b) given legal recognition and rights. Those who think that homosexual relationships are a bad evolutionary move will always be sad or upset about them receiving more encouragement.

  12. #12 Giorgio says:


    I mean, we have thousands or millions of years of evolutionary history based on heterosexual relationships, and only a few years, or maybe decades, of widespread homosexual relationships.


  13. #13 Thrawn says:

    I agree, homosexuality has a long history, but only on the sidelines. Human societies haven't put it on equal footing with heterosexuality - or if they have, then we don't have records showing that it was a good thing for them. There's not enough there for me, at least, to be confident that calling heterosexual and homosexual relationships equal would work out well for humans. And without that confidence, it's too fundamental a shift for me to agree with.

    But at least we're free to publicly debate it :).

  14. #14 Thrawn says:

    On the original topic of opinion/debate vs 'hate speech':

    - If the law decreed that people with same-sex attractions were to be executed/imprisoned/banished, that would be bigotry, racism, etc, very much like the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. Everyone can agree that that is wrong.

    - If instead the law were to decree punishments for homosexual behavior, then it would be within its powers to do so, but there could and would be tremendous debate about whether it was appropriate. Regulating behavior is what the law is supposed to do, but the responsibility would be on the regulators to show that what they're punishing is actually harmful. Notice that in most Western countries, homosexual behavior is now legal.

    - We now face a different issue again, deciding whether the law will not only recognise and permit homosexual relationships, but endorse and promote them, declaring them to be practically identical to heterosexual ones, with the same rights, privileges, and titles. Again, this is a matter that we can debate, but this time the onus is on the other side, to prove that homosexual relationships can provide society with everything that heterosexual ones can, fulfilling all of the necessary roles and functions that have made heterosexual relationships such an integral part of society for all of recorded history.

    From that perspective, civil partnerships with similar/equal rights but some title other than 'marriage' probably make sense, because demonstrably there is a domestic and probably financial relationship, but just as demonstrably it has differences to a heterosexual one, so a different label would be appropriate.

    What really troubles me is that when people oppose issue #3, stating their views that homosexual relationships are different and should not be labelled as 'marriage', they are promptly attacked as if we were back to issue #1, with terms being thrown about like 'homophobia', 'inciting hatred', and 'bigotry', along with attacks on career and the threat of lawsuits. There's room to debate this, but let's recognise that both sides have a right to argue for their points of view, and should not have to fear reprisals for doing so.

    So I'm glad that p.m.o is keeping the debate open - and if you strongly disagree with any posts, you can do what I'm doing now and speak up :)

  15. #15 Tom T. says:

    Rather than repeat what's already debated, I'd like to make a few observations that haven't been made, from a presumably-objective POV.

    1) Atheism doesn't guarantee freedom, tolerance, equality, etc. The Soviet Union officially professed atheism and denounced religion, but it was one of the most brutally repressive regimes in history. Stalin killed many times the number of his own countrymen as Hitler did, but Hitler remains everyone's favorite bogeyman, because much of his executions were based on religion. Stalin's executions and purges were often based on sheer paranoia, but since he didn't single out any one religion or ethnicity, he gets a pass. Has anyone ever "played the Stalin card" in an argument? ;)

    In logical terms, atheism may or may not be a *necessary* condition for freedom and tolerance, but it certainly isn't *sufficient*.

    2) Some religious denominations (Unitarianism, I think) are not homophobic. "All categorical statements are risky, including this one." (wink). Again in logical terms, religion does not necessarily = homophobia, even if many do. Perhaps religion is illogical, but the post that inspired this topic was against gay marriage per se.

    3) Marriage existed before large bureaucratic governments did. The solution is not to get Gov out of marriage, it's to get marriage out of Gov. Any legal contract or partnership recorded in the public records should be recognized as valid. Whether the participants choose to have some rites performed in an institution of their own choosing is their own business, and no one else's.

    The problem is that Gov controls who gets our survivor benefits, visitation rights, health care power of attorney, bequests, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Not to mention treating "married" people differently from other couples with regard to taxation and a host of other things. Return these to private choice, shrink Gov intrusion in almost every area, and get rid of the Income Tax, which is a powerful tool for politicians to extort donations from corporations in return for tax breaks, to encourage all special interest groups (including labor unions and non-profits, not just corps) to make campaign contributions in return for various quid pro quos, and to bribe voters with letting them keep a little more of their own earnings in exchange for (re-)election and for behaving in ways that please whoever is in power at the moment.

    4) Bill Maher undercuts his own objectivity and credibility by making very demeaning and sexist remarks about women with whose politics he disagrees. Sexism and homophobia are very close cousins. Disagree with their ideologies; refute their tenets, but don't make sexist insults.

    As for the OP itself, it's one individual's blog, and he has just as much right to voice his opinion as anyone else on the planet. There is no imprimatur of Mozilla, express or implied, here.

    My own ideology is very much like that represented in the post linked to my signature.

  16. #16 AnonymousCoward says:

    Ayn Rand signed on for both Medicare and Social Security in her later years. Illness and poverty were no match for her rants against them as prime examples of government intervention and regulation.
    Thanks for yet more irony, Tom T.

  17. #17 Tom T. says:

    @ AnonymousCoward:

    Having had that money extorted from her by force during her working life, how is it hypercritical or ironic to use some legal means of recouping a tiny percentage of it?

    And speaking of irony, at least I stand by my opinions publicly, behind a recognizable nick, instead of hurling illogical and unfounded insults from behind an admittedly-cowardly shield of anonymity.

    If you really believe what you said, have the guts to say it with some identifiable nym.

  18. #18 Tom T. says:

    Typo: "hypocritical".

    @ Giorgio: Can we get a "preview comment" function here without too much effort on your part?

  19. #19 AnonymousCoward says:

    @Tom T, thanks for even more delicious irony.
    And fuck your prescription about how a person is supposed to represent themselves in fora.

    Rand (as she presented herself in her days of public popularity) would've sneered at your styling of her signing on as purely a sanctioned retrieval of minimum funds. By choosing to eke out a protracted impoverished and diseased end of life with that funding tied to government control, Rand rejected all her philosophical tenets; reason, purpose and self-esteem and their corresponding "virtues" rationality, productiveness and pride. According to her rational description of action as directed by Objectivism, she should have behaved like the car-load of gassed collectivists she so enjoyed using as an example, and immolated as soon as she had seen she had failed in her Capitalist purpose. As it was, she ended up purposeless, out of her mind and so ashamed that she hid from public view up there in her own private Galt's Gulch.
    For those who haven't yet had a laugh at the psycopath's manifesto, in the spirit of Rand here's a link where you don't have to pay for it

    Fuck management.

    Now that was fun. Want more?

  20. #20 Thrawn says:

    @AnonymousCoward: The amount of swearing and insult you've posted here doesn't seem justified. Tom T put out a well-reasoned, rational and respectful comment. Please endeavour to do the same in reply.

  21. #21 Tom T. says:

    @ Thrawn:

    There is an old saying, "The man who throws the first punch has lost the argument."

    Modify that to "The one who hurls the first personal attack or obscenity has lost the argument", and we pretty much nail our anon friend.

    @ AnonymousCoward:

    Just out of curiosity, where did you get that info on poverty? Wikipedia doesn't mention it; only that in 2008, "Atlas Shrugged" alone sold half a million copies, more than half a century after it was published. Plus the other book royalties. She died of lung cancer, and yes, I was always bothered by the irrationality of tobacco use. But argumentum ad hominem is well known to be a logical fallacy. Her ideas stand or fall on their merit alone.

    Where and how did you verify the Medicare/SS info (even though she was entitled to get back what she involuntarily paid)? Some blatant anti-Rand site? Please provide a source, not that your credibility is all that high anyway.

    As for the paucity of vocabulary, sure, show your ignorance and limited literacy all you like. My opinion on that topic is in the link in the sig to this post. Go ahead, click it - I dare you.

    Want some more?

  22. #22 Rich says:

    In all kindness:

    “All Speech is Free Speech.”

    Speech is language; language is conceptualization; conceptualization is an accumulation of concepts. Synonym for concept is word.
    Ethnologue* site states it has information about 6,909 "known living languages" in the world. I, for one state, that I fail to have command of the majority of these 6,909 languages. It would be most naive of me to claim otherwise.
    I can only use those concepts of which I do have command. My speech is in this regard already limited, even if I fail to be aware of it.
    Also, most words/concept I use, are, at least to a large extent, my striving to imitate and mimic my perceived version of my surroundings. Which, by nature, is also limited as my surroundings, for one, also lack the command of these 6,909 languages.
    And as histories are also an accumulation of mimicked concepts of which it is a possibility, but not a necessity, to have some knowledge of, it too, is limited. No matter what. Not only is limitation unavoidable, in case of history, it is also variable. It is a possibility, not a necessity, to have a versions of a perceived history conceptualization induced belief which has a ’Santa Claus’ complete with sled, reindeer and delivering presents via a chimney. Yet, once alternative concepts are available, accepted and used, the believed history alters accordingly.

    It is a possibility yet not a necessity, for instance, believe that there is a “Nobel Prize for Economics” and have a history belief based on those concepts, even if a “Nobel Prize for Economics” is non-existent. There is a “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. A prize of the Central Bank of Sweden.

    All in all, to quote Albert Einstein - “"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

  23. #23 Tom T. says:

    @ Rich:

    No wonder the "ivory tower" gets a bad name...

    dictionary.com lists about 48 different meanings for "free". The one used here is "without forceful restriction" -- by Government, Thought Police, or other external authoritarianism. Whether your mind is internally free is a valid topic for philosophic debate, but by rambling freely, ;) the above comment is totally irrelevant to this thread.

    btw, W. C. Fields, IIRC, said, "Reality is an illusion caused by the absence of alcohol." ;-D


  24. #24 Thrawn says:

    By the way, just to nibble at the original bait:
    Mr Maher's argument of "I don't know, and you're not better than me, therefore you don't know either", is clearly flawed. I know all kinds of things that he doesn't, and vice versa, not necessarily because we have different abilities, but because we've spent our time and effort learning different things.

    If someone said to him, "I know what will happen after I die, but there's no way you can find out", then his argument would make sense.

  25. #25 Brian says:

    I am amazed that Bill M has completely disregarded the following which in my opinion is what all my way or the highway ego centric people do, 200 million believers plus, let's just say 1/3 of the world and more believes there is a God. Intellectual blindness comes from wanting to make laws and statements to allow things to go your way for selfish reasons, History and eye witnesses, and last be not least, the fact that Religion has always be the excuse for war, like burning Rome, not the reason, Religion does not in it self create evil, man uses religion to explain evil, and although many will not only close there eyes but also close there ears when the truth is spoken, Jesus mentioned that. So who cares what he thinks, Bill is therefore disqualified to speak on the subject because his facts are not backed up by anything but his ego. Sorry! Oh! and another one third of the world is Muslim which also believes in God and they want to kill Bill for not believing them so who's got your back Bill?

  26. #26 scooty-cat says:

    Everything, every possibility, and every moment in its total sum is God.

    My perseverance is my faith. It is the driving force behind what I do.

    The right to judge is not mine.

    No one gave me permission to force my beliefs upon you.

    I can't change you, only myself.

  27. #27 J says:

    "How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not." Total bullshit. I dont disagree with all of the points in that quote but that reasoning right there is bullshit, you cant just force everyone to be on your level, especially in something as subjective as the mind

  28. #28 JT says:

    Bill's main problem is that he is a comic. Not a political expert (although a politically apolitical animal). He has yet to understand it is not religious doctrine per se, nor religious belief, or even the philosophy of religion (let alone the "religion" of philosophy) that is the problem. It is the nature of the human in question.

    Indeed, Mahr confuses logic with rational thought, belief with religion, and fact with experience. If scientists can find that indeed there are particles that exceed "c" the speed of light (yes, they have), or that the "beginning of the universe" preceded the big bang (again, they have, just recently determined their previous "belief" or rather "first principle" might be incorrect), then surely such simple words written some thousands of years ago should be considered.

    "suspend judgment about each belief -
    neither affirm as true, nor deny as false;
    for therein lies the crux - a belief is not
    based in reason or eloquence of the
    mind, but the non-rational experience
    of nature. An incommunicable delight.

    "Hence, one who criticizes beliefs as
    not rational is correct, but the criticism
    is meaningless. Truth and Belief coexist
    in harmony."

    The crux of the problem in America in particular, is that the great melting pot is not exactly that. Instead, its a stew of sorts, where political capitalists capitalize on deconstruction of society into segments that can be manipulated through mass media efforts. Bill Mahr is actually part of this "establishment", although not exactly as effective.

    No longer, it seems, do media moguls hold politicians and political manipulators to account - not really. Only when its expedient. Like Mahr. I've never heard a rational basis for his criticism of belief. Perhaps there's a good reason for that. He's not 100% sure.

  29. #29 Thelma says:

    This really wowed..

  30. #30 Calyptratus says:

    The most interesting thing in my view here, is that you can replace the world "religion" with "politics" or "government" or "capitalism" and it would be exactly as good an argument against those fanatical religions. With that view-point Gary's comment scares the shit out of me. He's imperial stormtroopers training poorly educated people to become sheep and violent opressors of another, even more evil end destructive myth.

    JT: Ironically enough, polls have shown that Maher's viewers knows notably more about the world, and has a better grasp of reality than their peers watching corporate "actual" news media. There is a nice study showing how people are much more inclined to be open to new ideas and adjust flawed thinking, when approached via humor than via propaganda from the violence monopoly, or more traditional political activism. Maher is precisely in the spot he should be.

  31. #31 AMDG says:

    "Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us..." - the key assumption in Bill Maher's original post on which the whole logic hangs. (Eg: what if "God", leaving aside for a moment the question of his existence, is not "a being" but IS "being" itself? As shakespeare noted, there is more in heaven and earth than are contained in our philosophy.)

    We are human beings, not apes. Let us rise above throwing mud to use our power to reason, wherever it came from, with dignity. What marvellous beings we are! We have the ability to try to understand not only how, but WHY it is that we have such an ability. Thank you, Tom T.

    (And thank you, Giorgio, for NoScript!)

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