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The politics of distraction

by Frank Schnittger Wed Apr 29th, 2009 at 06:38:37 PM EST

Today a Government think tank has issued a report forecasting that Irish GDP will decline by 9% in 2009 and by 14% in the period 2008-2010. New figures show that unemployment has doubled in the last 12 months, and tripled in the past 2 years to 11%, and will rise to 17% next year.  New car purchases are down 64% and the value of share transactions on the Irish Stock Exchange is down 75% on last year. The general Government deficit will be 12 per cent of GDP this year and next - not counting the cost to the State of buying toxic assets from the banks by way of the National Asset Management Agency. (This transaction will add a substantial but as yet unknown amount to Government debt and to the State's annual interest bill).

So obviously the main focus of today's radio talk shows is a Government Bill to bring in a new crime of blasphemy.  Yes, books like The Satanic Verses and the Da Vinci code, cartoons depicting Mohammed and irreverent comedians like Tommy Tiernan could be the ruination of the country. What we really need is a Charter for religious fundamentalists to make sure the rest of us keep our mouths shut.  

I kid you not...


Crime of blasphemous libel proposed for Defamation Bill - The Irish Times - Wed, Apr 29, 2009

A NEW crime of blasphemous libel is to be proposed by the Minister for Justice in an amendment to the Defamation Bill, which will be discussed by the Oireachtas committee on justice today.

At the moment there is no crime of blasphemy on the statute books, though it is prohibited by the Constitution.

Article 40 of the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of speech, qualifies it by stating: "The State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality or the authority of the State.

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

Last year the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, under the chairmanship of Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ardagh, recommended amending this Article to remove all references to sedition and blasphemy, and redrafting the Article along the lines of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with freedom of expression.

The prohibition on blasphemy dates back to English law aimed at protecting the established church, the Church of England, from attack. It has been used relatively recently to prosecute satirical publications in the UK.

In the only Irish case taken under this article, Corway -v- Independent Newspapers, in 1999, the Supreme Court concluded that it was impossible to say "of what the offence of blasphemy consists".

It also stated that a special protection for Christianity was incompatible with the religious equality provisions of Article 44.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern proposes to insert a new section into the Defamation Bill, stating: "A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000."

"Blasphemous matter" is defined as matter "that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage."

Now there are certain things I hold pretty sacred, and which cause me to be very outraged when they are satirised by others.  What I need to do now is organise a religion around these beliefs so that I can criminalise all who would beg to differ.  The key test of whether a criminal offence has been committed is the degree of outrage true believers can attest to.  

Can you be outraged too?  Because another test appears to be that the outrage has to be caused to a "substantial number".  So we can insult small minority religions as much as we like, apparently. (That pretty much writes off the small 3% Protestant minority in the republic, and the even smaller Jewish and Islamic communities).

So I wonder which religion this new crime of blasphemy is supposed to protect.  Could it be the Catholic Church which has been so blasphemed by allegations of child abuse?  Could you now argue that a history of sexual repression and celibacy could lead to institutionalised abuse without causing outrage and being criminalised as a result?  

And if similar laws were enacted in an Islamic country which prevent one noting that Mohammed seemed to have a predilection for very young sexual partners, something that might be termed paedophilia nowadays, and if one were criminalised as a result, would the "enlightened West" not be outraged?

The most charitable interpretation I can put on today's events is to assume that it is all a ruse to distract people from the truly awful and exponentially terrible economic news which dominate so much of the airways these days.

But I have a nagging suspicion there might be more to it than that.  Don't non-religious people have a right to be outraged?  Who is to define what is sacred and what is not?  This could be the most pernicious piece of covert legislation to protect an almost defunct religious establishment since a previous Fianna Fail Minister, Michael Woods, concluded an agreement with the Catholic Church which made the state liable for over 90% of the costs arising from sexual abuse of children in Roman Catholic run institutions, a figure now well in excess of €1 Billion.

Why do recessions always seem to bring out the truly revanchist, sectarian, and reactionary elements in a society?  Why are we even talking about this crap?

Display:
[...] a previous Fianna Fail Minister, Michael Woods, concluded an agreement with the Catholic Church which made the state liable for over 90% of the costs arising from sexual abuse of children in Roman Catholic run institutions, a figure now well in excess of €1 Billion.

I bugger your kid and you pick up the tab? Fucking geniuses. Let's not forget to pray and forgive our brothers who have strayed.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Apr 29th, 2009 at 06:50:47 PM EST
In fairness, much of the abuse occurred at a time when the state provided virtually no social services and the Churches were left to look after orphans, "delinquents", children born out of wedlock, unmarried mothers and other "reprobates" and so the state should take some responsibility.  It didn't supervise such institutions properly and was only too glad to offload the problem.  However 90+%!!!  Genius negotiuation all right.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 29th, 2009 at 06:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re Italy, the Church has always sought to maintain its social services networks largely because it is a major economic resource and offers structures for prosyletism. The bottom line is that the secular Italian state finances Catholic social services, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals and clinics all to the exclusive advantage of the Church and its image. Like many things Italian it is beyond effective legal control and a hotbed of corruption.

There are of course very efficient and valid Catholic initiatives to help the poor, immigrants, etc. It's difficult to reconciliate these organizations with the rest of the Church where sheer greed is policy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 01:11:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So no more of this then.

Well, if you are going to blaspheme, don't discriminate - say "god does not exist" and offend them all. Would such a law make public expression of atheism an offense?

by det on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 06:31:05 AM EST
Excellent link!

No I don't think there is any direct threat to atheists in this unless they go around deliberately insulting believers in a provocative way "likely to lead to a breach of the peace".  This is probably more about, as I suggested, the politics of distraction, and a desperate attempt by a Fianna Fail in serious decline to perhaps make up with some of the conservative religious vote - which they were losing when a separated Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern) living with another women - whom he "flaunted" as his partner - and who ended up declaring himself to be a socialist.

The practical effect of such a law might be more to prevent the publication of very provocative pieces by the MSM anxious to avoid prosecution for libel.  It will probably inspire a lot of anti-religious tracts by non-MSM - in an attempt to render the law ridiculous and unenforceable.  

But we are in danger of returning to a battleground we thought we had won - only to find we have to fight it all over again.  It could thus become a serious distraction from the fight for a more equitable civil society.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 07:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? A similar law was used against Jerry Springer: The musical, in the U.K., though charges were later dropped. And a film of Panizza's Der Liebeskonzil was banned in Austria in 1985 on similar grounds, with the ban subsequently upheld by the ECHR (at least they didn't put the director in jail, which I suppose counts as progress).

BTW, since I mentioned Panizza, I've just been reading his book "Die unbefleckte Empfängnis der Päpste" - highly recomended, though discussing it may now get you into trouble in Ireland. Even translating the title may be risky.

by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't libel the dead.  So how is it possible to libel God?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 10:53:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a day when the ESRI issued a report forecasting that Irish GDP will decline by 9% in 2009 and that unemployment will rise to 17% next year,  the main focus of today's radio talk shows is a Government Bill to bring in a new crime of blasphemy.  

Yes, books like The Satanic Verses and the Da Vinci code, cartoons depicting Mohammed, and irreverent comedians like Tommy Tiernan could be the ruination of the country. Do we really need a Charter for religious fundamentalists to make sure the rest of us keep our mouths shut?

The key test of whether a criminal offence has been committed is the degree of outrage true believers can attest to, and that the outrage has been caused to a "substantial number".  So can we continue to insult small minority religions like Anglicans, Methodists,  Jews and Muslims?

Could you then argue that a history of sexual repression and celibacy has led to institutionalised sexual abuse without causing outrage to a "substantial number" and be criminalised as a result?  

Do non-religious people not also have a right to be outraged?  What if, indeed, they are outraged by this preferential treatment for those who claim legal protection for their definition of the sacred?  Are they not being legally forced to recognise a Sacredness in which they do not believe?

This could be the most pernicious piece of covert religious legislation since a previous Fianna Fail Minister, Michael Woods, concluded an agreement with the Catholic Church which made taxpayers liable for over 90% of the costs arising from sexual abuse of children in Roman Catholic run institutions, a figure now well in excess of €1 Billion.

Why do recessions always seem to bring out the truly revanchist, sectarian, and reactionary elements in a society?  Why are we even talking about this nonsense? Or is this all about the politics of distraction?



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 08:26:28 AM EST
Can we have a change of government, please?

<thinks happy thoughts>

<thinks happy thoughts>

<thinks happy thoughts>

<thinks happy thoughts>

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 08:43:09 AM EST
I don't want to burst your bubble, but do you think an Enda Kenny led Government would be any better? - even with a significant Labour input?  Just how many heavyweight thinkers and doers are there in both parties?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 08:58:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Couldn't be worse, and at least they wouldn't be personally committed to the idiot policies of this government.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A change is probably good in itself, but their recent proposals on health care are the first time (to my limited knowledge) that they have staked out a significantly different policy position on an issue.  Even on this issue of Blasphemy, Gilmore has waffled about excluding works of artistic merit from the scope of the Act.  The courts are to adjudicate on "artistic merit"? We need a more principled stand.  Even Obama represents a more principled change from the Bush era.

You are probably closer to party politics than I am and so I will defer to your superior knowledge, but I have seen little enough evidence from the opposition that they would take a very different approach to running the country.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:36:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm nowhere near party politics and have no knowledge: at the moment though, the people "fixing" our problems are precisely the ones who got us into them, and they're going to be naturally reluctant to accept they spent the last decade digging us a deep hole, jumping in and picking  up their spade again.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:43:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that the focus is still on fixing the banking system and restoring it to its former pristine perfection.  The problem is there appear to be very few people around with the capability of articulating an alternative strategy, and my fear would be that Kenny et al would be even more in the pockets of the financial establishment.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 09:54:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland is screwed.....

But with words like balasmephy , the life of Brian comes to mind.

"blasphemy? what are you going to do, fire  me?"

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 12:51:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, just a 100k fine...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 01:09:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should this legislation pass an interesting challenge could be made from persons claiming to follow the teachings of Buddha, who neither claimed to be a god nor acknowledged the existence of such entities except as the flawed creations of human minds.  One man's blasphemy is another man's religion and supreme truth.  A Google search of buddhism and atheism gives the following link, among others.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 12:55:19 PM EST
The problem is that the offence is not defined in terms of denying the existence of God, but in intentionally causing outrage to a substantial number of religious believers.  So you have to prove the intent, the outrage, and the substantial number.  Thus it might be enough to accuse the pope of being a protector of paedophiles,  Nothings to do with God....

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 01:06:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But pointing out that existing religious beliefs are sops to men's fears that cloud their thinking and inflict unnecessary suffering while serving the control agendas of the churches and publicly advocating to undermine such beliefs could be prosecuted under such laws.  I realize that Buddhist organizations do not engage in such activities, but concern for such reactions is one reason why.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 03:39:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That said, it probably is, at least in part, intended as a distraction or a wedge issue.  Would it be a bad thing if it passed?  Would people feel impelled to devote energy to preventing passage?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 03:42:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Would it be a bad thing if it passed?  Would people feel impelled to devote energy to preventing passage?

Yes and No.  The very concept of blasphemy is retrograde.  People are punch drunk and more concerned about bread and butter issues.  Which is another reason why it may have been slipped into a Bill which was supposed to be about making libel laws less restrictive.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 04:43:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I read crap like this, the happier I am that Denmark already has an article against blasphemy in our criminal code. Because:

  1. It is criminal, not civil, law. This means that it has to go through the police atty's office. And they usually have better things to do than prosecuting sacrilege (I imagine that civil suits would be a different matter, because there'd be money in it for tort lawyers).

  2. There is a long and happy precedent of not actually enforcing it. In all the time it has existed, I think there's been only two actual cases brought before the courts - one of them from before I was born. Both of them were chucked out almost summarily.

But if anybody makes noises about banning a particular blasphemy, we can just point them at the article and say "that's already illegal. No need to double-outlaw it. Go file a complaint with your local police department, if you think you have a case. And RTFM next time."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 04:34:28 PM EST
Perhaps, but we already have a lot of laws which are only enforced very rarely and only against those the establishment wants to punish.  I prefer a less capricious system myself, and whilst generally Police and Judges can be relied upon to go good sense, you never know who might be looking for a Papal Knighthood...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 04:48:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree that new blasphemy laws are A Bad Idea. They might actually be enforced.

That's why I like having one on the books already, that has such a long precedent of non-enforcement: It makes it more difficult to make a new one that actually has teeth. And it's very, very hard to go up against fifty-plus years of legal precedent. Particularly on something as silly as blasphemy...

Obviously, since we're talking about a new law in Ireland's case, this logic does not apply.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 05:36:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For God's sake, why have blasphemous libel? - The Irish Times - Thu, Apr 30, 2009

EVERY SATURDAY a group of young people, their faces hidden by masks or scarves, gathers outside the office of the Church of Scientology in Abbey Street in Dublin with leaflets and placards making serious allegations about the sect.

If the new law prohibiting publishing or uttering blasphemous matter becomes law, as proposed yesterday by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, they could face fines of up to €100,000 and have their homes raided by members of the Garda Síochána in order to seize the offending material.

For that to happen, a court will have to be satisfied the matter published is "grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion", and that the outrage was intentional. These provisions came unannounced in a proposed amendment to the Defamation Bill, which was before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice yesterday (but was not discussed). The proposal from Ahern does not define "religion", so there is no reason to imagine the Church of Scientology would not be protected by it from the publication of "abusive or insulting matter".



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 08:00:16 PM EST
For God's sake, why have blasphemous libel? - The Irish Times - Thu, Apr 30, 2009

Last December, there was a vote on a resolution on "combating defamation of religion" at the UN, which was adopted by 86 votes to 53, with 42 abstentions. The resolution was tabled by Egypt on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Ireland, in common with all other EU countries, voted against.

However, at the Durban Review conference in Geneva last week (reviewing a 2001 UN conference on racism) references to "defamation of religion" were removed from the final document. At the same meeting, the human rights organisation Article 19 launched the Camden Principles, defending freedom of expression combined with the right to equality. They were drawn up with a high-level group of UN officials, representatives from other intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and academic experts.

Explaining Ireland's vote at the December UN meeting, in response to a question from Green TD Ciarán Cuffe in the Dáil last month, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said: "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."

He went on to distinguish between this and discrimination based on religious belief and incitement to hatred, pointing out that Ireland supported a UN resolution on "Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief." Has our policy on the defamation of religion changed since last December and, if so, why?



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 08:02:08 PM EST
New blasphemy laws - Free speech is not up for discussion

JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern has defended the move to establish a crime of blasphemous libel, stating only that a definition was required by the Constitution. It is difficult not to be disturbed by the development.

Whose needs does it serve? What problem does it resolve? At the very least a more comprehensive explanation must be given for regulations that carry severe penalties - up to €100,000 - that are, like it or not, based on subjectivity.

One man's blasphemy is another man's comedy classic. One man's revelatory moving statue is, according to another, the rock we all perish on.

by det on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:22:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The worrying thing is that Ahern seems to think there is political mileage in this sort of thing.  The rest of the Government have been quiet on this so it is difficult to know what the play is.  It could just be a kite being flown.  No Churchmen (to my knowledge) have spoken publicly.  Did they ask for it? I would imagine that many would think this could be more trouble than its worth.  There are too many unpleasant reminders of nasty battles over divorce and abortion fought in the 1980's.  That is when the Churches began to lose theri hold on Irish society.  I would be surprised if they wanted to be reminded of those times.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:30:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A solo run by Ahern? Could he possibly believe it might give him an edge in a tilt at the Crown?
by det on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 07:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't rule it out, though some of the rest of the Government might not thank him for it...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 09:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well as an atheist,I would say that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by my religion of non-beleif, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion..

did the minister intend to cause outrage amongst my community? if so can we puth him up for trial as soon as the act comes in? On the other hand, is he willing to say that it is accepatable, and thus a defence that he did not care and had not considered that it would cause such consternation in my community? creating a precedent for this defence to be used in court whenever a prosecution is attempted? and thus making the law in effect null and void?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Apr 30th, 2009 at 11:18:43 PM EST
Some vox pop commentators on the radio have actually suggested that atheists should form their own religion if they hold freedom of expression to be so sacred.  But that rather misses the point if you oppose the concept of religion in toto, and the courts would give such artifices short shrift.  The whole point of my opposition is that rights are hereby being conferred on believers which are by definition not available to unbelievers because their beliefs - if they have any - would be considered to be political rather than religious and thus not enshrined by this law.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 1st, 2009 at 06:07:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No place for blasphemy law - The Irish Times - Mon, May 04, 2009

IT IS tempting to think of punishment for blasphemy as a mediaeval anachronism. In fact, it is very much a contemporary reality. The Pakistani Supreme Court recently upheld a judgment that the only fit punishment for blasphemy is death. In Afghanistan, the journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh received such a sentence last year for distributing an article critical of the status of women within Islamic societies. In Sudan British teacher Gillian Gibbons was convicted of insulting Islam by allowing a child to give the name Mohammed to a teddy bear. As an instrument of repression, the charge of blasphemy is very much in vogue.

All of which pushes the decision of Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to propose legislation on the crime of "blasphemous libel" beyond the realms of mere misjudgment and into those of dangerous folly. An amendment to the Defamation Bill would outlaw the deliberate publishing or uttering of anything that is deemed by members of any religion to be "grossly abusive or insulting" to anything that they hold to be sacred. Such speech or writing would be punishable by a fine of up to €100,000.

We should be clear that blasphemy laws have nothing to do with the protection of religious freedom. The founders of most of the world's major religions were regarded in their own times as blasphemers against the then-established spiritual truth. Jesus Christ himself was, according to the Christian Gospels, tried for blasphemy by the Jewish judiciary, the Sanhedrin. One of the first Christian martyrs, Saint Stephen, was stoned to death for blasphemy. Given the diversity of religious faith, it is almost axiomatic that one person's sacred truth can be another's gross insult to God. For the State to legislate against such subjectively perceived insults is to take sides in spiritual and intellectual disputes that are none of its business.

What the State should do - protect people from discrimination or incitement to hatred on religious grounds - is already done through our laws. Anything else is an absurdity, a crank's charter that makes an ass of the law and a censor of the State. This is why, in 1991, the Law Reform Commission said that a law of blasphemous libel has no place "in a society which respects freedom of speech". It is why, just last year, the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution recommended that the current (extremely vague) prohibition of blasphemy be deleted from the Constitution.

Instead of following this eminently sensible advice, the Minister has chosen to regard himself as being under an obligation to legislate for that ill-framed constitutional ban. This position might be more convincing if the Minister felt himself similarly obligated in relation, for example, to the X case constitutional judgment on abortion - an area in which the State has steadfastly refused to legislate. It is, however, the height of folly to propose that there is a constitutional imperative to bring in bad laws for which there has been no substantial public demand. If Mr Ahern really feels the need to make Irish law on blasphemy coherent, he should move for a constitutional amendment to get rid of it altogether.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 3rd, 2009 at 07:41:30 PM EST
Absurdity of blasphemy law revived by Ahern - The Irish Times - Tue, May 05, 2009

How brilliant of Dermot Ahern to mark this important event in Irish intellectual life by reminding us of the absurdity of blasphemy laws.

Does he really think that it should be a crime to offend members of the Jedi church (from census returns that includes 70,000 people in Australia; 50,000 in New Zealand; 390,000 in the UK) by saying that a light sabre makes you look like a dork? Of course not.

With one satiric touch he has honoured the memory of Shaw, Yeats and Gregory and reminded us that blasphemy laws exist to protect, not religions, but bigots.

For his next trick, he will mark the Darwin bicentenary by threatening to make creationism compulsory



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 5th, 2009 at 11:23:09 AM EST


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