How It Will Be Done

In some countries “wounding religious sentiments” is already a criminal offence. To what extent the terms are carefully defined in the legislation, or whether the meaning of the expression is considered too obvious to lay out, I cannot say. Perhaps different jurisdictions have chosen different approaches. I would expect, however, that they have all been very selective about who gets to have the wounding of his sentiments criminalised and who does not. Different cherries for different folks to pick.

This lack of unity is remiss. An enormous opportunity is being squandered, the opportunity to criminalise everything and everybody. All we need to do is four things. One, to define “religious” widely, so as to embrace the political, social and pseudo-scientific spheres, down to and including flat-earthery. Two, ditto for “sentiments”. We may note that this term already falls well short of the concept of “ideas”, so that when we put the first two items together we can cover transitory mental phenomena on any subject. We will then have protection for the most fleeting neuro-endocrino-hormonal states. Three, we can define “wound” not to mean what it does in battlefield medicine, but rather the mildest conceivable distress or the most trivial inconvenience. Hearing whatever I do not wish to hear will be enough – unless, of course, you are objecting to noise, the infliction of which on lovers of quiet is the closest we get to a single world religion.

This brings us to the fourth step. Clearly it is not practical to criminalise the causing of distress or inconvenience to absolutely everybody. That would cause “the war of all against all”, and with seven billion offendees on the planet, the only way to keep up would be to put an expert legal system on every smartphone and let them fight it out. Which will probably happen anyway, but a stopgap might be to designate a single authority that could pronounce on who has had his religious sentiments wounded and who has not. Only when two pals of this supreme authority tread on one another’s toes would it be necessary even to discuss the issue. All other voices can be eliminated, which in the coming world will be done at the press of a button. All your accounts is belong to us!

(Actually written in 2009)

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