As an atheist and citizen of Cape Town, I was most disappointed to see the acquiescing of Pic and Pay to the rampant attacks handed out by God's self appointed agent – Pastor Errol Naidoo. This week Pic and Pay pulled the UCT Rag magazine from its shelves as a result of an email campaign orchestrated by Naidoo on behalf of “Cape Towns Christian Community”. It was particularly distressing to see the Rector of a world class University, Thandabantu Nhlapo apologising to Naidoo for granting his students the right to free speech

Now I do understand, that Pic an Pay is foremost a business and must satisfy its customers first, but Errol Naidoo and his flock are not the only customers and they are not the guardians of our rights to speech. Their opinion of content is simply another of the many diverse views held by South Africans. Their God, or the means of describing him or debating his merits, holds no sway in the minds of the rational.

I have not read the contents of the offending SAX magazine, having now had the rights to purchase it removed from me, however the content is not relevant to freedom of speech. Unless it is publishing child pornography, inciting violence or producing hate speech, Errol Naidoo's opinion is of little lawful relevance and his actions are merely an encroachment on the rights of other Pic and Pay customers. Clearly any editorial in the magazine is not the opinion of Pic and Pay or its directors, any more than the selling of easter eggs is a commitment by Pic n Pay to the teachings of Jesus.

We live in a country of diverse cultural views. Alternative views are never comfortable, but granting another citizen the right to free speech, even accompanied by profanity, is a cornerstone of our freedom. No matter how important Naidoo's God is to him, it is simply an offensive fairy tale to me. It may come as a shock to Naidoo that selling easter Eggs or Hot Cross Buns in Pic and Pay is as offensive to me as blasphemy is to him. However I grant his flock the right to express their cultural religion, and sometimes even buy a bun myself.

I don't go running off to Jonathan Ackerman telling him to move the Matzos back off the shelf.

Philip Copeman

Views: 48

Replies to This Discussion

Yes, I also thought that UCT's actions were a bit lily-livered. I don't know though if I should be falling over my feet to support students' rights to call Christians "C.*.N.T.S'.
Like I said I did not read it. I don't think the content is relevant. The right to say it is what is more important.

Every time we allow someone like Naidoo to make a noise we give up a little bit more. What I am looking for is a way to respond to these actions, where I am not responding as myself, but rather representing a group.

It does not have to be me it can be someone else, but we should have a designated spokesperson who has brief of what issues are important.
Yes, I suppose that Christians would not like it if Atheists were to appoint themselves as censors of Christian books and take offense at hearing about how wicked non-believers are and how we are going to go to hell.

What could we do about it? Maybe an open letter in a newspaper to UCT and Pick 'n Pay?
Question is, if the students had done an equally offensive article about the Islamic faith, would we fight for the issue equally hard even if there were to be the same sort of violence as has happened in other countries? Is it worth it?
I live in country, South Africa with a significant population of Moslems. Many of them I know personally. My atheist views are always clearly spelled out to them. I have even lived for a significant period with a Moslem woman.

In theory this article (and I haven't read it) should be just as offensive to them as it is to the Christians. I don't see any Moslems jumping up and down here.

In my experience, Moslem intolerance of other religions is greatly overexagerated (Usually by Christians). Certainly I have found this to be the case in South Africa.
See my earlier comment that effective activism comes from picking the right battle. The UCT battle is not the right one, this issue comes and goes many times. I don't beleive that this is one to follow.

Let us choose our issues carefully. At the moment Brother Richard's cause of the President swearing an Oath to God looks the best issue to me. I am not familkiar with how this is law in South Africa. I was severley pissed watching Motlathe swear on a Bible.

The impolicatiosn of this are basically that an atheist can never be President. This is the de facto sitiuation in South Africa.
The Constitution provides that a person being sworn in has the choice of swearing an Oath, which refers to God, and doing an affirmation, which does not refer to God.
OK We have 3. (Me you and Deborah) Its not enough to form a pressure group, but time will bring it all out. Keep watching and soon a issue will come up that we shodul all follow.

Ideas would be:

1) Lets see which political party is sensitive the atheist vote:

2) Next tiem there some kind oif "council of priests" on media or TV, let us make sure that our position is heard.
i was also furious watching last nights carte blanche- the editor failed to even show his case as soon as he started apologising for doing almost nothing wrong! also did you guys know there are about 11 registered christian parties in sa? wtf!
Also please go to carte blanche s poll and vote blasphemy, not as hate speech, but as freedom of speech which is a right i also tried to show the believers that blasphemy wasnt a personal attack on them under the guise name of blackheart, which was completely pointless btw they just love playing victim!
oh yeah and they really have a strong firewall, half of my posts didnt even get posted
Chill out on this one. Our beef is not about free speech, but the fair rights to Atheist belief. We had this discussion about 10 days ago an decided that this is not the right issue for us. What we DO NEED TO DO is decide what the correct SINGLE issue is that most advances our cause and set about driving that one.

I am waiting for a government advisory council of religious ministers or something like that. Another possibility is to see if any of the political parties will take the advancement of secualr rights as a driving issue and therefore welcome atheist votes?




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