Heather Wilhelm argues that Christians should get comfortable with blasphemy. Allahpundit reports with some alarm that a majority of Americans don't think they have the "right" to blaspheme. It's a ticklish subject, even when no one is threatening to shoot up the place. Where it most often goes off the rails is in the muddiness surrounding the word "right."
I'm sure I have, and should have, the legal right to blaspheme. No matter who thinks I'm blaspheming, I don't want him to have recourse to the government to come and shut me up by force, nor do I want him to get a free pass for killing me to stop my intolerable threat to his peace of mind. I should think we'd had enough centuries of bloodshed to settle that question of policy by now. Nevertheless, I don't think I have the moral right to be intentionally offensive about someone's religion for no better purpose than to put a stick in his eye. If I hold an opinion of some aspects of his religion that strike him as less than flattering or orthodox, I expect him either to get over it, or at least confine himself to nonviolent retaliation--preferably in the form of reasoned discourse, though he's free to snub me socially and professional as well. Good manners and charity should lead me to express my disagreement as tactfully and unhatefully as I know how. But if the problem is that no doubt or contradiction can be brooked, I can't help the guy. He may not be capable of living in a free society.
So I decline to participate in campaigns to keep pigs and sausage out of children's books, while upholding the right of anyone who doesn't like them to decline reading them, even to the point of taking their kids out of school if it comes to that. Although I wouldn't dream of drawing a race-baiting caricature of a Semite, whether Arab or Jew, or of a black man, I also wouldn't lift a finger to prevent someone else from doing so, beyond refusing to support his effort with either my own patronage or tax revenues. Nor will I accept "religious rage" as a defense to murder any more than I've ever been impressed with defenses like "homosexual panic." Maintaining a free society means expecting grownups to control their emotional impulses, not parade them.