SkepSun #121 (01_11_2015)

This week on Skeptical Sunday, in the wake of the horrific murder of 17 people in Paris this past week by Islamic extremists seeking to “avenge their prophet” from his cartoon depiction in the magazine Charlie Hebdo, we stand with the people of France and say “Je suis Charlie /nous sommes Charlie.” We reflect on the precious right to free expression we have in the West and the nature and motivations of those who’d like to take it away. First, on Freethought Radio, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker honor the slain French cartoonists by talking with the irreverent Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson. Then they chat with Marshall Brain, the founder of “How Stuff Works,” about his new freethinking book, How “God” Works. Perhaps the most eloquent defense of the right to free speech in the face of religious intolerance I’ve ever heard was a speech by journalist Johann Hari, given a few years back entitled “Free speech vs. Islamic free speech.” Hari describes how a column of his critical of religion that was reprinted in an Indian newspaper, nearly got the editor of that paper killed. Then in hour two, Gordon Bonnet of Trumansburg , author of the Skeptophilia blog, recounts the stories of two Middle Eastern bloggers who may pay with their lives for dissenting from Islam and religious authorities. Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and 600 lashes for criticizing the religious establishment in his country and creating a network of freethinkers. Similarly, in Shia Iran, Soheil Arabi  was convicted of “insulting the prophet of Islam” and will likely be hanged. Finally we’ll hear Ed Brayton, author of the “Dispatches From the Culture Wars” blog interview ex-muslim Islamic scholar Ibn Warraq on a variety of subjects concerning the clash of Islam and Western democratic values and they discuss Warraq’s book “Defending the West.”



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