The idea is to encourage free speech, allowing us to stand up to those interests which demand that we cease from criticism by virtue of ‘respect’ for their particular beliefs. Now, I’m not one to insult people just for the sake of it. All I said was that this piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.
It is interesting, though, that IBD blows in as an eructation of relief after Yom Kippur, during which observant Jews spend the entire day begging forgiveness for the sins of the past year.
Some rabbi or another, in a fit of archness, once referred to Yom Kippur as Yom Ha’Ki’Purim – the day that is like Purim. Arch indeed, as Purim is almost, though not quite, entirely unlike Yom Kippur. Purim is a revel, the closest thing to a Jewish pantomime, in which there is much eating and drinking and noise and God is not mentioned at all. Contrast with Yom Kippur, which is a fast; God is front and centre; and it’s all so solemn that you’d shit marble, if you’d had anything to shit. Why the comparison?
My take on it is as follows (I suspect that it’s not original). Given that the world isn’t perfect, everyone will have committed some kind of sin in the past year, no matter how small. Even in the best regulated socialist utopias households, there is always room for improvement. So, nobody’s perfect, and Yom Kippur will always be needed. If everyone were truly without sin, then we might as well do away with God and have a party.
This line of argument looks like it might be in danger of straying into the dangerous waters of the relationship between sin and atheism [don't even go there - Ed.]. But I digress. [Thank Christ for that - Ed.]
What strikes me most about blasphemy is how many of the words we use to insult – the words which in most places are regarded as taboo (the playground at Cromer High School excepted) – refer to the urogenital system. They are so taboo that it’s hard for me to even type some of them – and if I did, they might get snarled up by one’s morally upstanding web browser. Small children find jokes about bottoms, willies, poo and farts so funny that they are reduced to hapless fits of giggles (some adults, too). Older children and adults discover the rich, archaic fruitiness of the many words used to refer, sometimes in deprecation, to the genitalia.
Why, though? Why the urogenital system? Why is there not a corpus of insults based on – oh, I don’t know – the toes? Elbows? It could be that in many societies, the urogenital system is concealed and thus imbued with an almost religious mystery. That there’s some basis in this is the fact that breasts – also concealed – are mysterious, and attract a sizeable lexicon of epithets. Perhaps it’s because the urogenital system is seen as dirty. But religious mystery? Oh, come off it, Mr Crox. What has the urogenital system got to do with religion?
In his novel The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke has an atheist alien joke that religion is only possible in species that have a mammalian reproductive system. Think about it – the endless, endless hang-ups that religions have about sex and genitalia. It all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve saw each other’s Dangly Bits. However, I have never worked out why Christianity, in particular, is so hung up about sex, and sexual orientation. Jews are hung up about sex, too, but more positively. Somewhere or other in the Talmud are proscriptions of how often people should have sex, broken down by occupation. Intellectuals get to have sex the most, which seems like a good reason to be both Jewish and an intellectual. And we Liberal Jews, who are used to having lesbian rabbis, can only be amused at the constant stream of tzores attending the Anglican Communion as it wrestles with gay bishops. Metaphorically, at any rate. But we Jews have questions to answer. For example, why, on Earth, or anywhere else for that matter, should one’s covenant with Jehovah be marked by the ritual genital mutilation of newborn children? I mean, what would be so wrong with a nice earring, huh?
Blasphemy, then. My contention is that because religion is a mammalian thing, regular urogenital insult has got entwined with religious blasphemy. Abraham’s Arsehole Holy Shit, that’s a big subject.
Er … dick’s cuss discuss