In America, there's nothing less powerful than an atheist with a blog. In Bangladesh, though, apparently it's a real threat. I started a blog when I was 16, along with some other writer friends I knew. We were frustrated and angry with the status quo, like basically all teenagers everywhere. We wanted to live in a moderate, liberal society where women could do what they wanted with their faces, and that's the kind of thing we wrote about. The worst we should have faced were some aggressive ASCII dicks in our comment section.
Or something along these lines.
But there was a massive Islamic uprising late in 2012, and they came after my friend Thaba Baba and beheaded him in his own house -- he was the second blogger killed that month. We'd had a meeting just two days earlier saying we needed to deactivate our blogs. We didn't act fast enough. Most of my co-bloggers left the country after that, and now I live somewhere free enough that no one cares when atheists complain on the Internet. We don't blog in Bangladesh anymore, though.
See, it's easy to be ballsy and provocative when your friends aren't literally losing their heads over it. We'd all like to think we'd stick around and make a stand for what we believe in were it ever threatened. But think real hard: What do you believe in hard enough to have your goddamn head severed over it? My guess is "Not much, and even less with the actual saw in front of you."
Courage doesn't fare well against serration.
Not that any of this stopped me from throwing a concert.
Farjana Khan Godhuly / AFP / Getty
I was in a black metal band as a kid, and when I was 16 we did underground shows. The whole country was under a curfew at that point, which basically meant "If extremists blow up your party, it's on you." We gathered money, rented an auditorium, and sent out the invitations via private Facebook messages. One dumbass printed posters once, and someone in the printing company blabbed and brought down enough heat that the guy had to pull out of music entirely.
Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images
When you can't trust the printing press, who can you trust?
The show I got shot for was supposed to be just 20 to 30 people, and we had a no-camera policy. It was us and one other band, and we trusted everybody in the audience ... but of course word still got out. Blame the fact that we were teenagers. You want people bragging about your concerts in America. That's ... not the case there.
Somebody videotaped me holding a goat head and saying some pretty negative stuff about the local extremists. It was metal as fuck. But the day after that, we were stuck in traffic and this guy walked up to our car, knocked on the window, and told me to get out or he'd shoot me in the face. That's the kind of request you listen to. So I got out of the car and he shot me in the knee instead. That part was also metal as fuck, come to think of it.
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty
It sure wasn't rubber as fuck.
My dad called the cops, but they were like, "There's not much we can do about it." They said they couldn't find a "motive" behind it. My dad didn't want this to get out and lead to more people shooting at us, so he hushed it all up. You have to cut your losses at some point, and that point is the tip of a bullet entering your kneecap.
At the height of all the violence, I had three blogs going. I was anonymous in two of them and used a pseudonym for one. Well, one day I came home and the secret service was there waiting. They told me I'd made a list of atheist bloggers to be "dealt with" and were there to take down my blogs for my own protection. But "If you're not going to be careful, we can't protect you."
And that was that.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Plus a cranapple soda.
I got a student visa and moved to America. It's a wonderful place. You've got freedom of speech here. That is the most wonderful thing you can have as a human being. I think the rest of the world sees things like the Duck Dynasty guys as a portrayal of America, but it's not like that at all -- some of the population is backward, but you can argue with them. They don't shoot you in the knee (and I lived in Oklahoma for a while). TV censorship is rampant in Bangladesh. Throughout the '90s, we had lots of TV, but after the conservatives won in the 2000s, they blocked HBO and banned the American shows. The Internet is heavily censored, too. Porn is pretty well blocked unless you use a proxy. So, yeah ... I love being in America (and Canada).
The whole free world of porn, really.
But I might not get to stay much longer. As I said, I'm on a student visa right now. Those don't last forever, and I'm already feeling pressure to return. The most extreme party in the country was just banned, which you might take as a sign of hope, but 18 people died at polling stations this January alone, and that's almost never the sign of an improving political climate.
For now, I'm going to enjoy my unfiltered Internet, hope no one deports me, and try to appreciate the fact that my local pigeons can poop in utter freedom.
Related Reading: We've also talked to an actor in one of those weight loss infomercials and gotten the whole dirty truth behind that business. Cracked got the inside scoop on growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household and also spoke with a 911 dispatcher. We've learned some ugly (and heartwarming) facts about working at Disneyworld and also interviewed a Dominatrix.
For more ridiculous ways you can get busted, check out 22 Insane Laws You Won't Believe Exist in the Modern World.