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In defence of U of O atheists
Re: “Atheist instigators” (Opinions, Oct. 13)

IN MY INTERVIEW with Kelden Formosa, author of “Atheist Instigators” in last week’s edition of the Fulcrum, I explained why I believed portraying the prophet Muhammad was legitimate. Freedom of speech doesn’t just involve one’s right to speak their mind; it also involves one’s right to be exposed to the opinions of others. The moment one wishes to constrain the free expression of other people, either by implying that it may be in bad taste or by enforcing blasphemy laws (which still exist in Canada), they are doing a disservice to themselves.

If depictions of Muhammad offend certain Muslims, then it should serve as a motivation for those Muslims to re-establish why they feel offence in the first place. If, after careful contemplation, they truly believe stick figures labelled “Muhammad” are sacrilegious, then it should reaffirm their beliefs about what is sacred to their faith. If not, then perhaps they will cease to consider such depictions offensive, like Muslim Student Association President Adam Gilani. Either way it will make them think; I don’t see how that could possibly be a negative thing.

Freedom of speech is a secular value that should be cherished by everyone; blasphemy is a victimless crime. The beliefs of Muslims (and everyone else) are fair game and should be an active part of public discourse. Atheists, secularists, and those who do not affiliate with religion are frequently offended by the metaphysical claims of monotheistic faiths, especially when we are told that our unbelief merits a one-way ticket to hell. No moral atheist could think of an offence that a person (religious or otherwise) could commit that would justify a sentence of eternal torture. The concept of hell is profane; it is the infliction of agony for agony’s sake.

Atheists also generally believe Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet and the Christian claim that Jesus rose bodily into heaven are preposterous. Irrational beliefs like these cannot expect to be isolated from caricature and lampoon. The drawing of Muhammad worked to attract like-minded students to our club, and to express the secular values we believe in.

When a Muslim tells me I am going to suffer in hell for eternity because I don’t believe Allah exists, it does no one any good if I attempt to silence them implicitly or explicitly, even though I consider that to be a grotesque and offensive belief. Instead, I see it as motivation to re-establish why I believe Muhammad’s claim that the inerrant word of God was revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel in the seventh century is nonsense—and I’m quite confident in saying so.

Scott Keith
President of the Atheist
Community of the University of Ottawa

Long live the Liberals

SEPT. 25 OUTLINED, for me, the revival of Canadian Liberal ideology. As many of you know, May 2 was a terrible day for the Liberal Party of Canada. Our candidates were crushed in the federal election a short five months ago. That being said, this is not a letter of destruction but of rebirth.

The University of Ottawa Young Liberals has seen an explosion in our number of active members, interested students, and participants. Sept. 25 was the first of many Young Liberals events, and we started out the party and our own revival with a bang. Sixty students joined the club executive at the Heart and Crown to listen to our local Ontario Liberal candidates and the Liberal Party of Canada’s interim leader Bob Rae. The event was awash with energy, vigour, and hardworking student support that did not jump ship.

I would like to finish off this letter with a thank you to those who did not support our party on May 2. You cleared away the party fat, the elites, the lazy workers, and the entitled that have since been dismissed from our party. The election has provoked a necessary internal reflection.

We are now a stronger and better party, looking to the people as intelligent citizens (not taxpayers) who do want to change the shape of and engage in their system of government.
Thank you to all of our supporters and members. We hope to see all of you again soon, perhaps at the amazing Liberal convention taking place in January.

Elliott Lockington
Director of University of Ottawa Young Liberals Communications