Pharyngula

Orthodox Jews are rioting in Jerusalem. The reason: because the city allows a parking lot to remain open on Saturday, which means people are able to drive on their holy day, which they consider sacred. Anne Barker was there to record the event as a journalist, and she switched on her recorder to document it all — when the protesters turned on her.

I found myself herded against a brick wall as they kept on spitting – on my face, my hair, my clothes, my arms.

It was like rain, coming at me from all directions – hitting my recorder, my bag, my shoes, even my glasses.

Big gobs of spit landed on me like heavy raindrops. I could even smell it as it fell on my face.

Somewhere behind me – I didn’t see him – a man on a stairway either kicked me in the head or knocked something heavy against me.

I wasn’t even sure why the mob was angry with me. Was it because I was a journalist? Or a woman? Because I wasn’t Jewish in an Orthodox area? Was I not dressed conservatively enough?

In fact, I was later told, it was because using a tape-recorder is itself a desecration of the Shabbat even though I’m not Jewish and don’t observe the Sabbath.

This is something too many religious people fail to understand — you can practice your religion, other people can practice their religion, but you don’t get to tell other people that they must practice your religion. If your crazy superstition says you aren’t allowed to push a button on a certain day of the week, then don’t. If your old myths claim that your god turns into a cracker when the right ritual is carried out, go ahead and believe that. If your dogma dictates that you should visit a certain magic rock before you die, then go ahead, make your pilgrimage.

But excuse us, everyone who doesn’t have these wacky ideas has a perfect right to push the button, disrespect your cracker, or stay home and skip the crowds…and we also have the right to point and laugh at you. And if you are so intolerant, so irrational, and so vicious as to try and impose your foolishness on others, especially in such disgusting ways, then we have an obligation to use civic law and the power of the state to protect those others’ liberties.

Unfortunately, some states become so entangled in the religious absurdities of a segment of their society that they lose the ability to protect every citizen’s rights. That’s happening in Israel, and it’s happening to a lesser degree here in the US.