Ireland to Vote on Removing its Blasphemy Law … or perhaps not.


blasphemy-cover_exact-small-sizeNow here is a small snippet of potentially good news, it has been officially announced that Ireland will indeed now hold a vote on their rather silly Blasphemy law. The report on this reads

Junior Minister Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin told the Dáil:

The Government accepts the main recommendation of the [Constitutional Convention], which is that a referendum should be held on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

Article 40 of the Irish Constitution states that:

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Furthermore, Section 36 of the 2009 Defamation Act outlines a fine of up to €25,000 for anyone convicted of the offence.

The law defines blasphemy as publishing or saying something “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matter held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

Well that is good news then, finally a glimmer of some common sense, and so all will be well …

… oh wait … sometimes utter stupidity can also potentially shine through as well …

The Labour TD said it hadn’t been decided yet whether the constitutional amendment would simply remove the crime of blasphemy, or replace it with a ban on incitement to religious hatred.

So in essence, the law they had that in effect banned criticism of religious ideas will potentially stay, this is simply a proposal to replace a word that has gone out of fashion, “Blasphemy”, with something else that is exactly the same.

(To express your views on all this this, about here is perhaps the right place to commence uttering a few rather blasphemous phrases that would get you finned €25,000)

Incitement to hatred should of could be a crime, and should not in any way be something that specifically relates to religion, for example inciting hatred against people for simply being from somewhere else is generally recognised as racism, or for having a different sexuality, that’s homophobia. However, where all this goes off the rails is when such laws take on a specific religious focus and are utilised to trample all over basic human rights. I’m not suggesting that actually happens on a daily basis in Ireland, but it really does happen in places such as Pakistan where simply expressing a view that is not aligned with a specific shade of Islam will potentially merit you a death sentence. When challenged about such laws, they simply point at places like Ireland and make the observation that having such laws is just fine.

Personally I’m still struggling to grasp who the actual victim of such a “crime” actually is. It basically works like this …

  • There is no god and jesus never actually existed – That’s Blasphemy, it’s a crime to say that or write that and so I am fined  €25,000
  • Evolution is false – That’s not Blasphemy, but rather is a rather silly anti-science statement, but there is no problem there.

So why is it that religious ideas get this special treatment again?

… and all I said was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!

If indeed Blasphemy is something that you find really is a crime, then please do not watch the following Life of Brian Documentary …

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