I wrote this today to answer the question “What is a hackerspace to me?”, to explain to my home hackerspace, Hackerspace Charlotte, exactly what I think a hackerspace should be . I thought I’d share it with a wider audience.
A few weeks ago, Red posed the following question to me: “What is a hackerspace to you?” With elections approaching and the likelihood that new blood on the board will bring changes to the hackerspace I’ve been taking some time to really think about what my answer is to that question.
When Red first asked me this question it seemed more like an intellectual exercise than it does now. Now the question seems like an important one to ask. I know several folks have been informally tossing around ideas for change and ways to improve the space, I think the open dialogue is fantastic and needed.
As I’ve been thinking about it, I realized the best way for me to answer ‘what the hackerspace was to me’ was to think about how I describe the hackerspace to other people. I have had the honor of speaking at several conferences recently and at each one, I’ve begun the talk by promoting my hackerspace. As a previous member of HackPittsburgh and now as a member of HSC, the second or third slide in my deck has always been to promote hackerspaces as a whole and my home hackerspace specifically.
So what do I say about hackerspaces? I talk first and foremost about the community. I talk about how I learn something every single time I visit my hackerspace. I talk about the free flow of information, the willingness of those in the know to share with those who don’t know. I talk about what I’d call cultural understanding for lack of a better term to explain an understanding and comfort with hackerdom. (lets face it, out in the ‘real world’ you get funny looks if you mention excitedly that last night you learned that you can fit four AA’s into a 5 hour energy drink bottle) I talk about community outreach to share what we know about building things and changing things with a world that is quickly losing those skills.
After thinking about this, I realized what is notably missing from my description. Not one mention of the selection of tools and equipment available to me. No mention of the 3d printer I have available or the laser cutter. Not one mention of a private workspace where I can bury my head in my project. Not one mention of the space as an incubator for my own private enterprises.
I realized that the tools are nice to have and an important part of the space, but honestly, if they were the most important thing to me, I’d buy my own. If I want to bury my head in my project I can do that at home as well, I don’t need to pay dues and drive to the space to get that.
So when it comes right down to it, the hackerspace to me is a community — a living breathing knowledge wielding solder slinging beast. I hope in an effort to tame that beast, we don’t lose the community that makes the hackerspace so important to me.
This past weekend, some friends and I competed in the Carolinacon 8 Capture the Flag (CTF). We learned a few things and I like to capture them here so they can help future CTF teams and so we don’t forget them next year when we stroll into Raleigh to try again.
1. A slightly offensive funny name is just fun. We couldn’t easily agree on a team name because the entire team wasn’t comfortable with the “offensive” nature of our name. However, I think it worked well for us. First, people had a good time with it and second, I don’t think we will be quickly forgotten.
2. Eating is important. It’s way to easy to get caught up in the hunt and forget to get meals. This happened to part of our team and it showed when the frustration level got high. Take the time to eat – even if that means sending someone out for food, do it. On Saturday, we invested close to 12 hours into the competition and that’s a long time to go without more than a bag of Doritos provided by the kindness of Mrs. Skydog.
3. Don’t be afraid to get up and walk away for a bit. We found ourselves afraid to walk away from the table to fear that the other team would pull ahead in our moment away. In retrospect and looking at the time line, we had plenty of opportunities to step away. It’s way to easy to get tunnel vision and sometimes that 15 minutes away is just enough to clear your head and give your mind a moment to work on the problem.
4. Sitting by the pool is a bad idea. It seems like a good idea, really it does, but it’s not.
5. You will NOT have the gear you need. Try to plan for every contingency, but be prepared that you will be missing something. Be prepared to improvise.
6. Team communication is crucial. No lone wolves. You are on a team dammit, act like it. I think we did this well, but we did have a couple of moments where we could have done this better. Listen to what your teammates are saying. You wanted to be on a team with them for a reason, don’t get smartest guy in the room syndrome in the middle of the battle.
7. Shut your pie hole. Okay, so this sounds like in contradicts number 4, but it doesn’t. We learned the hard way that the other teams are listening to each other and they sure are paying attention to what the lead team is saying and doing. So make sure you have some secure form of inter-team communication. And test it before you leave – but be prepared, it will break 2 hours before the CTF so have a backup plan.
8. Social engineering isn’t against the rules, unless it is. Use it to your advantage.
9. Act like you are being watched. Odds are pretty good that the pretty woman who strolls up acting like she is interested in making small talk with you, isn’t. She’s looking at your screen grabbing intel. Decide if you are in it to win or make friends. If you want to make friends chat away. If you are in it to win, have a copy of goatse or lemon party on hand to flash up on your screen whenever she comes near.
10. The network is hostile. Remember the other teams want to beat you and even if attacking other competitors is against the rules, sniffing the wire isn’t. Any bit of intel they can grab from what attacks you are running or services you are targeting will only help them. Use this to your advantage; throw them off your tracks. Heck maybe even dedicate a team member to launching bogus attacks, it’s an idea anyway.
11. Have fun and remember it’s a game. Yes, there maybe prizes, fame and fortune at the end of the game, but it’s still just a game. We met some very cool people doing the CTF, people we beat and people who beat us. If we had allowed poor sportsmanship to creep into the competition we would have missed the opportunity to meet these fine (and very intelligent) folks.
We had a great time and I had the pleasure of working on an excellent team with guys I’m lucky enough to work with on a daily basis. I’m really looking forward to doing it again.
Turns out that Cree.py is broken out of the box on BackTrack 5 R2, but it’s a simple fix:
apt-get autoremove creepy
apt-get remove libosmgpsmap-dev python-osmgpsmap
apt-get install libosmgpsmap-dev python-osmgpsmap
apt-get install creepy
I hope that headline got your attention. That was my goal. It’s offensive when someone generalizes about the overall intelligence and thoughtfulness of an entire group of people. And yet, that’s the habit we as an industry seem to have fallen in to. In IT and in InfoSec, over and over again I hear “Stupid users”, “those idiot users”, “my users are such dumb shits”. It’s almost a mantra; it’s uttered that frequently.
My focus here is in the security realm because that’s where I am and what I do. In the security community, I hear the sentiment echoed over and over again as well. Dumb users who repeatedly “click on shit” that ends up compromising my security. I’d like to turn that around a bit. Any time one of my users “click on shit”, I’d like to suggest that it is I who have failed and not them. Myself and my team have failed to properly educate them, I have failed to teach them how to identify the latest phishing scam, we have failed to teach them to type the URL themselves rather than blindly clicking on links. We have let the company down, not those “dumb users”. I feel very strongly that a big part of my job should be end user education. As tired as military analogies maybe, they are our front line, they are our border guards. Without their participation and involvement in securing our environment, we can’t ever hope to be successful.
So please stop looking down at those “dumb users” and make them a part of your security team. Educate them and make sure they understand that they play a vital part in securing the enterprise. In fact, as a whole, I could argue that they play a much more important role than you do, so please act like it.
Also, please consider bringing your expertise to the newly launched Security Awareness Training Framework (SATF). We are working to develop a framework (similar to what is being done with Penetration Testing PTES) that will help security programs and practitioners develop a complete and comprehensive security awareness program. This isn’t a small task but we are a small group of folks working on this in our free time and any extra set of hands would be appreciated.
P.S. I don’t think information security folks are dumb, in fact, I’m often awed and intimidated by the intelligence of some of my peers.
This is becoming a disturbing trend in Pittsburgh. My thoughts today are with the family, friends and fellow officers of Derek Kotecki.
My dad had a variant of this poem framed when I was growing up. I always found it very moving and it is appropriate for today.
A police officer stood at the pearly gate,
His face was scarred and old.
He stood before the man of fate
For admission to the fold.
“What have you done” St Peter asked,
“To gain admission here?”
‘I’ve been a police officer sir,’ he said,
‘For many and many a year.’
The pearly gates swung open wide
As Peter touched the bell.
‘Inside,’ he said, ‘and choose your harp.
You’ve had your share of hell.’
The first time I met Moxie Marlinspike was outside of a small Mexican restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh. He rolled up on his bike rocking his head full of dreads looking like perhaps he had just returned from some island trip. I admit, I was in awe. Here I was talking to a celebrity in my world, the guy who broke the Internet. This guy was the real deal, he brought it. His findings had called into question the very core of the trusted Internet, he had broken SSL. Not only was he doing this amazing research, dropping 0-days on the world, he was releasing some amazing tools. And here I was about to have a great lunch with this amazing mind.
The reason Moxie had agreed to meet with me was to discuss the possibility of him speaking at a fledgling organization I was trying to get started. I had it in my head that Pittsburgh needed a security community. So a couple friends and I had started PittSUG, the Pittsburgh Security Users Group and we were hoping to lure Moxie, bribe him if that’s what it took, to get him to speak at our event. So I sat there explaining to Moxie what my idea was for the Users Group. He seemed into the idea, but he wanted to make sure I understood that no one was going to come and drop 0-day at PittSUG. I was kind of surprised by this, it had never occurred to me to even think that someone would drop 0-day at PittSUG. Probably, because I don’t deal in 0-day, I don’t think there’s any risk of me uncovering some 0-day.
The goal of PittSUG was to deal in what I described that day as “commodity” security
information. In my career, I have encountered plenty of Information Security professionals who don’t understand the very basics — from being warned that I would infect my Linux box by running strings on a W32 binary to what I can only call a mystical belief about how TCP/IP networking works, as if once you got below layer 7, it all became black magic and could behave without rules and defy both logic and reason. Many of these Info Sec professionals not only didn’t understand what the tool was doing behind the scenes, they didn’t even understand the tool. With PittSUG, I hoped to fix this. Okay, not fix it, but at least make a dent in it. Unfortunately, the PittSUG experiment didn’t last long. We quickly ran out of people willing to speak and teach at the meetings. However, I know we were partially successful.
Our last event was a CTF, created by the core group of PittSUG. The goal was collecting flags hidden through-out various machines. We had totally outdone ourselves, the contestants really struggled and we watched with pride, we had really created a challenge. And then something great happened, all of us spontaneously sat down with the less experienced contestants and started leading them through the exercises. We didn’t really decide for this to happen, it just kind of morphed into a training session. Suddenly flags were falling and those frustrated faces became smiles. The folks at that CTF had really learned some things, we spent time not only showing them how to use the tools, but we also spent time explaining what was happening behind the scenes.
This afternoon I listened to the AIDE talk from Keith Pachulski (SecOps) on the failures of the penetration testing industry. A good portion of his talk was addressed at individuals like the ones I mentioned previously, the ones who think TCP/IP is a mystery and ICMP is a clown faced rap group. As he talked, I couldn’t help but wonder if we aren’t doing it wrong. As a community, we seem to raise up those who bring the 0-day, but not so much those in the trenches teaching the “commodity” security lessons. I understand why; 0-day is sexy. Explaining a MITM attack only to realize the person you are explaining it to has no idea what an ARP table is, is everything but sexy. I also think a lot of us are self taught, we do this not because we want a paycheck, but because we really love this, we love the challenge and the we love losing ourselves in the Matrix. I think in a lot of cases we expect the same effort and interest from our peers and we are frustrated and disappointed when we don’t get it.
So what’s the point of all this? My point is this, Adrian Crenshaw and those like him are doing it right. Irongeek.com has some great video’s and some amazing tutorials. Adrian will be the first to admit he isn’t an expert, but he’s turned that enthusiasm for Information Security into a great learning resource. Maybe if we had more Adrian’s in the community, we’d have fewer people who only know Metasploit for db_autopwn and more who know how to find targeted and specific attacks. And just maybe they will not only be able to chose the right attack for the right target, they might even be able to explain what it’s doing under the covers.
We need those like Moxie and Tavis Ormandy dropping those awesome 0-days because we need those flaws found and brought to the light of day by the good guys, but we also desperately need the Irongeeks who aren’t afraid to teach the stuff so many of us take for granted. Next time your local con or Bsides event has a call-for-papers, please don’t be afraid to submit a talk about something you think everyone knows, because you might be surprised how much your talk will benefit those in the audience.
In this case, I’m the hairless monkey and the teacher was Matthew Beckler and Andy Leer of HackPittsburgh. Matt is one half of Wayne and Layne which is a company that produces open source hardware kits. Andy Leer, on the other hand, is 100% of Andy Leer.
When I signed up for the class I wasn’t sure what to expect. My experience with a soldering iron was limited to ruining my Dad’s iron by repeatedly melting my little green army men and filling the basement with the toxic black smoke of molten plastic.
Luckily, in the able hands of Matt and Andy, I was able to turn my toy soldier torturing abilities into a useful skill. The entire class assembled and soldered the Tactile Metronome kit from Wayne and Layne. I left the class with a functioning “Syncopation machine.” Both Matt and Andy spent enough time circling the class and making sure that everyone one was on the right track and even took the time necessary with each individual if they needed a little one-on-one attention.
I left the hackerspace with a big smile on my face and a new toy in my hand. If you are looking for a good beginner’s soldering kit, I can’t recommend the Tactile Metronome enough. The kit was easy enough for a newb like myself, but also a complete enough project that I felt like I was leaving with a finished product.
Special, thanks to Matt and Andy for being such patient and able teachers.
If you are a newbie solderer or even if you’ve never touched a soldering iron before — I’m confident that a beginners soldering class at Hack Pittsburgh can get you melting tin in no time.
I have always held Verizon’s Business Security division in rather high regard, primarily because over the last several years I’ve found their Data Breech Investigations report a useful and very telling document. I’m often in the situation in my career of explaining the “real” threat that X poses. This document has always provided something for me to point at and say here is why you, Mr. BusinessMan need to care about securing your enterprise. Having Verizon’s name tied to it gave it some additional weight.
However, this morning I read the article entitled “Redefining Security Researcher” by Wade Baker. In this blog posting the author suggests that the InfoSec community suffers from the “ridiculous yet long-standing inability to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys”. I have several issues with Wade’s terminology and his logic.
First, as Wade suggests the headlines do often read “Security Researcher Breaks This” and “Security Researcher Exposes That”. However, the author of the article or his/her editor picks that headline not the “Security Researcher”. Just like the television reporter gets to decide if the term “World’s Number One Hacker” appears underneath Gregory D. Evans when he mugs for CNN. We in the industry have only limited influence over the terminology used. A perfect example of this is death of the term “cracker” and the changing of the word “hacker” to be synonymous with criminal.
Also, let’s not forget that even the Narcissistic Vulnerability Pimp is doing research. It’s not like they have some secret vulnerability hole where they can pull vulnerabilities from. While you might object to their methods of disclosure, that doesn’t mean that their efforts are due anything less than being called a “Security Researcher”. They are in fact researching security issues.
Finally, as Wade points out in his later comments on the post, several analogies do fall flat when used to further explain disclosure. Admittedly no analogy is destined to be a perfect fit; however I do feel that I’ve found an analogy that works well enough – Bullet-Proof vests. Imagine someone discovered that a certain brand of 9mm ammunition could easily pierce a standard bullet proof vest. They contact the manufacturer and inform them that the vest fails to stop this particular brand of bullet. The manufacturer says “we don’t believe that to be a real issue”. How should this be handled? Hundreds perhaps thousands of vests with this vulnerability are deployed in military, police, and civilian circles. If the bad guys get wind of this, you can be sure this brand of bullet will become the round of choice. I think the only responsible thing to do is go public with this information. This allows each person to make an educated decision when they put on a vest – like wearing some additional layer of protection. Hopefully the public outrage will force the vendor to look into the problem and fix the issue.
Vulnerability disclosure is a touchy subject and will always be a balancing act between being responsible and doing what is best to protect the consumer, allowing the consumer to make an educated decision about what software provides the level of security and functionality necessary to get the job done.
I present a repost of the 25 blasphemous quotes.
Please consider reposting this on you site or linking to it to show your support! We’ve lived with religious tyranny long enough.
From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.
This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.
We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.
Publication of 25 blasphemous quotes
In this context we now publish a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, James Kirkup, Monty Python, Rev Ian Paisley, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Bjork, Amanda Donohoe, George Carlin, Paul Woodfull, Jerry Springer the Opera, Tim Minchin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict XVI, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Ian O’Doherty, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Dermot Ahern.
Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.
Campaign begins to repeal the Irish blasphemy law
We ask Fianna Fail and the Green Party to repeal their anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act that is included within the Act. We ask them to hold a referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.
We also ask all TDs and Senators to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Irish Constitution, including the clauses that prevent atheists from being appointed as President of Ireland or as a Judge without swearing a religious oath asking God to direct them in their work.
If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.
List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland
1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.
2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.
3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.
4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.
5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”
6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”
7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.
8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”
9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”
10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”
11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”
12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.
13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”
14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”
15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”
16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”
17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.
18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”
19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”
20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”
21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”
22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”
23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”
24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.
25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.
Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.