Saturday, 1 March 2014

Religion based Censorship

I'm sure you've heard by now that there was an outcry and petition regarding an image in the latest Katy Perry music video. 

It's the word 'Allah' written in Arabic hanging from a chain around the neck of a character who is then disintegrated by Katy Perry's character. 

In what is an almost expected response now, Muslims kicked up a fuss, started a petition and some 65,000+ signatures later reports say the YouTube version of the song has had the word edited out. See below for before and after: 

65,000 people signing a petition to remove this image is staggering - why would they care? Well they care because it's 'blasphemous'. Apparently. Now if they want to get upset about it, that's up to them. But how dare they demand to have it removed? Who are they to say what images can and can't appear in a music video? One hopes that these 65,000 people also signed petitions in favour of human rights or prevention of animal cruelty. But I doubt it.

This is close on the heels of the controversy caused when Maajid Nawaz said that Muslims shouldn't be offended by the below Jesus and Mo cartoon:

Mr Nawaz was harassed online - not because he called Mohammed a name, not because he drew Mohammed (something Muslims don't like) not because he insulted Allah. No, it was because he said Muslims shouldn't find the above offensive. That's all. Because of the outcry Channel 4 in Britain censored the picture and showed it like this: 

Again, who are religious extremists to say what cartoons can and can't be shown or drawn?

These are just two examples, there are many more and it's not just from Muslims. Monty Python famously caused controversy among Christians with their film 'The Life of Brian'.

The religious extremism here isn't the issue. Well it is, but that's not why I'm writing. Sadly, we've come to expect it. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be fought against, but it's just not a surprise now. 

No, the issue here is the pandering to it. Why should freedom of speech or freedom of expression be the casualty? Why is it more important that religious sensitivities be protected over freedom? There is no such thing as the 'right to not be offended'. 

If we allow this bit of religious extremism to have its way, where do we stop? Islam wants women to be covered in a Hijab or Burka. What happens if 65,000 Muslims sign a petition demanding that every woman appearing on YouTube or television wears a Hijab? Do millions of YouTube videos suddenly get removed? Does the look of television change forever? 

I know I'm leaning toward Slippery Slope fallacy here but the problem is the religious people who are offended by almost everything and I genuinely don't know at what point they'll stop trying to force their rules onto others. 

Censorship based on religious sensibilities is dangerous and is a real threat to the freedom of people who don't subscribe to the religion in question (and to those who do). It would be one thing to go into a religion's building such as a mosque and offend the believers, but no one is forcing anyone to watch the Katy Perry video. No one is being forced to read the Jesus and Mo cartoons. The only forcing here is being done by the religious extremists - forcing people to submit to their whims. They need to understand that they don't get to tell other people what they should find sacred. They don't get to tell other people what they should and shouldn't be offended by. 

If person x is offended by something but person y isn't the solution isn't to allow neither of them to see it - the solution is that person x doesn't watch. Simple. I don't expect laws to be made to protect my feelings

If you would like to voice your counter position to the Katy Perry video censorship, my friend Kevin ( ) has set up a petition at, which you can find here.


  1. word and sentiment, perfect.

  2. Who are muslims to call for censorship? Who the fuck is ANYONE to fucking kowtow to this fucking bullshit? THAT is the real problem. Fuck YouTube and fuck Perry's people for even responding to 65k fucking stupid assholes.

  3. Is it the fact that the religious icon is destroyed....or is it the fact that it is destroyed by a non-muslim?
    How many religious icons are being destroyed, by a Muslim government, in Damascus?
    How many icons are destroyed by a car bomb in Baghdad?
    I don't think this petition was about blasphemy.
    It was about headline grabbing.
    The fact that YouTube responded to it has given it gravitas.
    Ignore the extremists.
    Don't give them air time.
    Their cause gains followers with exposure.
    Suffocate that exposure and the cause collapses.

  4. We as muslims have our right to protect our sacred religion. We will always fight against anything desrespecting our religion. And we dont need exposure. Our cause will never collapse. Islam stands to be the strongest and most truthful religion today. Only because we stand by our beliefs. Who are you to tell us what to fight for and what not to fight for.

    1. Mohammed, you have the right to find whatever you like as sacred. Who are you to tell anyone who they can't and can't draw? Who are you to tell anyone what words they can and can't have in the music video?

      *You* can stand for *your* beliefs as much as you like. But you cross the line when you expect other people to believe the same things you do and then think you can censor them if they don't.

  5. My question is this ; why the heck would you look for things that you find offensive and then demand that it be removed/changed? If I find something offensive on Youtube - guess what? I won't watch it!

    Why don't you write a book about what you want to be done to people that offend or don't agree with you....oh, it's already been written!

    Well written piece MrOzAtheist!