Saturday, 2 January 2010

Blasphemy Matters

Atheist A few months ago the Irish Government passed a law making blasphemy illegal and blasphemers liable for a fine of €25,000.

The law officially went live on January 1, and Atheist Ireland have come out of the gate swinging, publishing a list of their favourite 25 blasphemous quotes.

Fun fact: the first two quotes on the list are by Jesus Christ himself.

Let’s be clear about this … protecting the right to blaspheme is not about protecting atheists’ right to poke the bear and make fun of religion.

The point is that free speech is sacred; so much more sacred than any religion.

And what’s more, the right to blaspheme is a cornerstone of freedom of religion. It protects religious believers.

All you Christians … don’t you realise that proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah is a blasphemy against Judaism?

All you Muslims, don’t you realise that elevating Muhammad above Jesus is a blasphemy against Christianity?

And Scientologists, don’t you know that L.Ron’s stories are a blasphemy against all the truly great science fiction writers out there?

Blasphemy is important. Blasphemy matters.

And this law needs to be repealed. Now.


Rob said...

As far as I can tell (from the 4th paragraph at this Guardian article), this law has always been in place, but has only been applied to Christianity.
So this is, I think, some kind of misguided attempt to bring the law into the 21st century.
In some ways, illustrated by your comments, it makes more sense for it to be about one religion only.

Also, according to that article, the law is specifically about comments which intentionally cause outrage, and has "some defences permitted". I would assume from this that upholding your own religious beliefs in favour of others' would be a permitted defence. That's an assumption but, I would expect, a reasonable one.

It amuses me that parliament decided the existing law was outdated, but then took it in this direction, instead of the more obvious direction of removing it altogether.

That atheist quotes website is down, too.

Rob said...

Among all the pro- and anti-religion comments on the Guardian, I found this:

Which seems to say that the existing constitution (which can be a bugger to change) is what says that blasphemy is bad, and in this legislation is introduced to more clearly define it so it doesn't get used willy nilly.

Matt said...

That's interesting ... I didn't realise the Irish constitution so explicitly and deliberately meshed church and state. It's not particularly surprising though.
It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially how the word "outrage" gets interpreted in practice.
I think the law still has the potentially to be used willy-nilly.
After all, some people are outraged at the drop of a hat, and such people are, I suspect, the type who might be looking to enforce this law.

Matt said...

That comment in the Telegraph mentioned the main point too, which is that this kind of law is used to support theocracies.
When the church and the state are the same thing, outlawing blasphemy equals outlawing political dissent.

Dave ~ said...

Jesus Christ! Jumping Jews of Jerusalem! Mohamed's sweaty jockstrap! Xenu sniffs grannies underwear! And other assorted exclamations.

Any Irish comedian worth his salt would be using this one. You can't tell me a left leaning 'edgy' comic wouldn't be wanting to challenge this baby in court.

Freedom of speech should be sacrosanct - yet here we have, in the second decade of the 21st century, a parliamentary LAW trying to reinforce some arcane make believe mumbo jumbo. Next they'll be back to burning witches at the stake, sacrificing oxen and stoning to death anyone that works on a Sunday.

Backwards is an understatement.

Quick Joe Smith said...

I hardly think so. Nobody is interested in burning witches or other silly Jewish laws; they only want outside criticism silenced so they can go about their daily lives without having to worry too much about the possibility that they might be completely wrong.