Blasphemy Now Illegal In IrelandComplications Ensue
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Friday, January 01, 2010

[POLITICS] As of today, blasphemy is against the law in the Republic of Ireland:
From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed.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.
Wow, that's kind of medieval, isn't it? Except, of course, the medievals protected only one religion per place. You could blaspheme against Islam all you liked in Dublin; and against Catholicism all you liked in Damascus.

In a free society, no idea should be treated as special, and exempt from attack. I find the origin story of Mormonism to be farfetched -- "the Word of God was handed down to our founder on these magic golden plates, but we can't show them to you because he had to give them back." Scientology has it worse -- L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer at the time, actually told people he was going to invent a religion. But in Ireland I'm not allowed to insult Scientology? How do you arrive at the truth if you can't subject ideas to contradiction?

The moment you start setting boundaries where people start getting outraged, you are at the mercy of people who are easy to outrage. And some people are all too easy to outrage. And they get easier and easier to outrage the moment you pay attention to them. Some people get outraged when little girls go to school, for example.

Personally, I think God can take care of Herself.



...seriously? The mind boggles.

You know who else blasphemed? Galileo. (Though technically he stood trial for heresy under Church law.) That the Earth revolved around the sun proved Scripture wrong. The Pope was outraged by his Dialogue, the work was banned, and he was forced to recant and put under house arrest for the remainder of his life.

The point, of course, is it's not just religious speech that gets shut down. It's amazing the array of things that fall under such laws, once they're put into effect. As you noted, the education of girls is outrageous to some. Closer to home, teaching that little theory of evolution gets all sorts of people riled up.

In a free society, no idea should be treated as special, and exempt from attack.


By Blogger kimshum, at 7:16 PM  

Well, I talked to god and it disagrees with this law.

By Blogger Tim W., at 10:21 PM  

Really, if they wanted a law governing spiritual respect, such a law should have been based on respect for humanity, and counted as blasphemy, among other things: the denigration of women or gays, the advocacy of religious hatred or violence, and the protection of criminals based on the laws or teachings of any religion.

By Blogger CitizenWhy, at 2:56 AM  

Why not start a religion with a single doctrine: that any law against blasphemy is blasphemous? This divine formulary conforms to the kind of circular logic characteristic of religion, so that makes it a legitimate religion.

By Blogger CitizenWhy, at 2:58 AM  

Most of us here in Ireland are bewildered as to how this law was drafted and implemented without a public debate. It was a law noone except a handful of extremists in the catholic and islamic community here demanded. Amazingly they got their way too.

By Blogger Thomas Sheridan, at 12:26 PM  

Quite frankly I like it. I appreciate when the powerful systems of the world tramples in one direction someone pulls in another.

The mood of the times seems to be very atheistic and antagonistic, such that people with any amount of spirituality feels the need to be on the defensive (or even denial).

I remember at the start of the decade when something like homosexuality was regarded with disdain (maybe not in cities like NY, LA or Montreal, but certainly on national and local tv and film) now you will be run out of town if you even say something against them marrying(see Prejean).

So it's refreshing to see someone pushing back.

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 1:24 PM  

Incredible. I suspect it will be repealed ASAP though; I can't see how any free nation could remain free while upholding a law so restrictive towards general freedom of speech or expression. With this law Scientologists could go after psychologists, piles of religions could go after evolutionary biologists, pro-lifers could get abortion clinic signs removed, and religions could go after each other for espousing religious beliefs that conflict with one another. It's the sort of ludicrous law that's destined to fail in the courts the instant someone really tries to make use of it.

By Blogger Unknown, at 11:19 PM  

Whoops! Phil Hudson wrote this comment, and I hit the wrong button on it:

Tyranny of the minority.I find it interesting to live in times as we do. I'm actually LDS (Mormon), and I applaud any freethinking man or woman on the Earth who can say "You know what, I don't agree with that BECAUSE..." That because says it all. You can't really live your life believing what you do simply because it's what you have always been told/taught. We must decide for ourselves.
We are all entitled to our opinion. That is the beauty of free agency. Whether you believe in God, a Higher Power, or simply the beauty of freedom, we have to respect our ability to choose for ourselves. Anything that prohibits our ability to express ourselves for "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" is inhumane.
I consider myself a freethinker. I hold my religion dear to my heart, having received PERSONAL confirmations of it's validity. I do not look down or judge any other for not having that same confirmation. I live in Utah, a state Redder than the Red Sea and I support Barrack Obama (A Democratic President), something 'liberal' and frowned upon by many members of my church. But I'm proud to say that I make choices based on principles, and I feel I am in the right on my political decisions.
I don't mean to make this a political/religious comment, I just feel despite religious background or social outlook, we should be respectful of others, yet maintain our freedom to think and decide for ourselves.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 6:39 AM  

A short film detailing the history and context of the Irish Blasphemy Legislation.

By Blogger BlasphemyIreland, at 5:16 AM  

I'm guessing it has to do with the usual blasphemies. Priests having sex with altar boys ... blasphemous. That Mohammad was a pedophile ... blasphemous. Stem cell research ... blasphemous. Pointing out translation mistakes in the bible ... blasphemous. Noting that most attacks in the western world for the past 20 years have been made by moslem terrorists ... blasphemous. South Park ... blasphemous. Any movie that has an evil protagonist that is attached to any religion ... blashpemous. Telling a joke poking fun at religion (even your own)... blasphemous.

I wonder what qualifies as a permitted deference and who qualifies it?

By Blogger Hugo Fuchs, at 2:39 PM  

Hey, let's lighten up. This is probably a jobs scheme, requiring the hiring of thousands of judges, experts, ex-clergy, clergy, homeless, drug addicts, all to sit down and reviews tens of thousands of items to determine how they should be rated on the Blasphemy Scale. In fact, Ireland could become the Blasphemy Ratings Center for YouTube, among other web sites and media. Lots of jobs!

By Blogger CitizenWhy, at 2:54 PM  

Quickly a kind favor please... click over to see our article... : ) your very-helpful post is great. Cheers from Ireland!

By Blogger Unknown, at 10:38 PM  

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