[Buddha-l] Return of blasphemy?
vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 4 17:06:07 MDT 2011
> As for your proposal to substitute denigration by the slightly more
> useful criterion diffamation, I am afraid I don't share your lukewarm
> enthusiasm. "Truth" and "true" are not exactly the first ideas that pop
> up when I see a religion.
That's true! One could restate the definition of defamation more bluntly:
""the offense of writing or saying something bad about someone
that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them,"
Using lies in print or orally to turn public opinion against someone (or
some group, etc.)
This is not about the "Truth" claimed by a religion, but about factual
statements made about a religion, e.g., the blood libel; or Hinayana
Buddhism promotes selfish nirvana devoid of compassion; etc. To accuse the
Vatican of conspiring to rule the world -- without being able to provide
evidence and proof -- would be defamation. If you have the proof, then not.
To point out that the Vatican has accomodated and shielded child abuse on a
massive scale is not defamation, since the evidence is overwhelming (as it
is for similar charges against Tibetan clerics in the late 19th-early 20th
c). Similarly, to point out that Muhammed's favorite wife was Aisha who was
six when they they were betrothed and nine when the marriage was
consummated, while, according to the Hadith, she was playing with her dolls,
is not per se defamation (numerous leading clerics today defend this as an
ideal worth emulation, though others have tried to push the age of
consummation up to age 13 or so, and some are reticent to discuss it, given
the negative impression it gives outside the muslim world), but to go
ballistic on it rather attempt to understand it in its context, i.e., to use
it polemically can become defamation, if observing the fact is accompanied
by a horrifying psychological profile that, in fact, has no basis except in
the modern imagination.
(which of the following is defamatory, and which is not?)
Similarly, viewing Buddha as a "deadbeat dad" for fleeing home just as his
pregnant wife is about to give birth straddles a line. This would be
denigration, if used to demean Buddha and or Buddhism, but not defamation,
since it is true to the facts as accepted by the tradition.
These sorts of historical/biographical matters are easier to sort out in
terms of facts and falsities (what used to be calumnies, etc.). Ideological
or theological matters would be harder to deal with, but there again, the
issue would hinge on whether one presents the opponent's position
accurately, or the degree to which one is distorting it or turning it into a
> Your conclusion sounds about right to me.
I still stand by:
>> "Which criticism is "fair" (and we should be even more afraid of a
> culture that does not tolerate criticism)?
But was sarcastic when writing:
>>Maybe in the post-modern
>> world, we all need to become duplicitous denigrators like Ramadan,
> finding a way to maintain a veneer of "tolerance" as we promote our lies.
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