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Oh, we have much worse laws than that. You got that disturbances of a ceremonial atmosphere of non-religious associations are under the same protection, right? And, recognisable political action (as opposed to PR's emitting of obsceneties) likely would not be punished under that law. The trouble with giving you a history of convictions is that I can't find anything younger than the 1920's. The Cologne case is going to be a bit exotic, apparently.
by Katrin on Thu Aug 30th, 2012 at 05:21:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmmm. So it turns out that "special protection" laws aren't all that necessary or useful, in a sensible jurisdiction. I wonder what was so different about the Cologne case that made the prosecutor choose to prosecute based on ideological privilege?

Incidentally, if activists interrupted a neo-Nazi gathering where they were all stiffly saluting each other, presumably the Nazis would be able to invoke the protection of this law?

Is it a good or necessary law, do you think?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 03:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except in many European countries (and particularly in Germany) a neo-Nazi gathering with Nazi paraphernalia or salutes would be a flagrant violation of the law.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 03:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, this law doesn't say anything against disrupting criminal behaviour such as a nazi gathering.

It's not a particularly good law, because it is unclear what behaviour is meant. This depends very much on the zeitgeist then. The fact that this law is rarely used is not necessarily a bad sign: it's possible that the law just catches the consensus so well that few people violate it anyway. Ideally the effect of a law should be that people know and respect the rules, not that breaking the rules is punished. Mind, we are not in France here, this stuff is fairly uncontroversial in Germany. I think these attitudes concerning religion belong to the topics where different European countries differ most from each other.

"I wonder what was so different about the Cologne case that made the prosecutor choose to prosecute based on ideological privilege?"

Different from what?

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 05:33:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
I think these attitudes concerning religion belong to the topics where different European countries differ most from each other.

i wonder what reaction if they had tried this caper in the vatican...

since this sin't a conversation about religion per se, let's focus on the political aspects.

jake's right in that it's undemocratic to claim special preciousness when you are willing to dip into politics, it's like having your cake and eating it too.

katrin is right that believers constitute a non-trivial part of the left's conscience, though obviously not exclusively, many atheists are as or more moral than religious people.

if we had had to wait for atheists to make enough noise about civil rights in the 60's, rosa'd probably still be riding at the back of the bus.

likewise with many of the environmental protests in germany.

jake's acerbic jibes at religion, hilarious as i find them, don't unite the two factions, and therefore come across as hard, uncompromising and judgmental as any churchman.

yet i'd trust that rigor more than any number of soapy platitudes that are the daily pablum of the institutional churches, though i don't share the atheism.

the left needs to unite and leave behind division, there are two few of us to be able to afford squabbling.

i would not appreciate PR bothering my concentration field if i were composing with a friend, for example, (my form of worship) and i think people should have some protection from invasive events like that, whatever they are doing.

i do sympathise with those protesting against putin, but i think this was too puerile to really matter much. putting them in prison is absurdly over the top.

the reaction on the other hand proves that the symbolism has too much power over people, from the icons of the church, to the media-fanned fury over those symbols being desecrated, they're just symbols.

too much fuss over nothing, and putin looks a fool for being so easily irked. his persecution of PR shows him for a humourless autocrat, big surprise!

church and state are ugly bedfellows and PR were right to protest... the way they chose is questionable, but not the impulse or the guts to follow through.

my beef with religion is not just the astonishing pettiness, boring, redundant theology and endless moralising, it's how it's used as whitewash to try and make scoundrels look better as they do the devil's work, and how it serves as cheap opium to keep the people passive under oppression.

all the pomp and circumstance of modern christianity is repugnant, but nuns on a bus, MLK and the berrigans deeply inspiring. it's not so simple.

spirituality doesn't need heirarchy, patriarchy or monuments, icons, canons or pomp. it just needs to be real. luckily there are some who realise that, just as we are lucky many atheists have empathy, compassion and nobility of character. this can be a win-win, if we want it to be.

does this get the record for longest ET argument ever yet?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 06:07:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The law protects the exercise of religious freedom against the intervention if non-state actors. an dinsofar it is an neceessary laws.

legal assemblies of all kind sre protected agianst disruption, too, bt the way:

Gesetz über Versammlungen und Aufzüge
(Law on assemblies and demonstrations)

§ 21
Wer in der Absicht, nicht verbotene Versammlungen oder Aufzüge zu verhindern oder zu sprengen oder sonst ihre Durchführung zu vereiteln, Gewalttätigkeiten vornimmt oder androht oder grobe Störungen verursacht, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu drei Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.

Prison up to three years or fine.
You non-religious activities are protected too.

by IM on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:02:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
convictions because of § 167 StGB are rare, but not that rare.

Two semi-recent cases:

Five months because of § 167 I S. 1 - disruption of service (and vandalism).

In this case the two men disrupted ca. 50 events earlier.

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/schnellgericht-schickt-kirchenstoerer-ins-gefaengnis/529208.html

A conviction of a couple to a fine of 1,800 Euro because of § 167 I S. 2 - insulting nonsense.

They posted photographs of themselves being naked in  an empty church. A catholic "accidentally" discovered the photos in an erotic forum and made an anonymous complaint.

http://www.all-in.de/nachrichten/allgaeu/rundschau/Rundschau-basilika-gericht-verurteilung-geldstraf e-Paar-wegen-Nacktfotos-in-der-Ottobeurer-Basilika-zu-Geldstrafen-verurteilt;art2757,926433

The two serial disruptors were somewhat religious motivated, so in both cases we don't speak about political actions .  

by IM on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 05:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably the religious disrupters could have been prosecuted under the "normal" legislation protecting assemblies.

So the usefulness of the German law seems to hinge on whether or not it is useful or necessary to punish people who photograph themselves naked in a church.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Presumably the religious disrupters could have been prosecuted under the "normal" legislation protecting assemblies"

No, the threshold of what is no longer tolerable is higher in ordinary assemblies. Violence, the threat of violence or other severe disturbance. Take the test case again: Putting a pig into a synagogue wouldn't fall under this law.

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:28:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which raises the question of why religious assemblies should enjoy protection from disturbances that any other public assembly does not.

Why is your religious observance more important to the public purpose than, say, a porn fair? (To take an example of an activity that religious groups have very often gotten away with disrupting.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:33:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Why is your religious observance more important to the public purpose than, say, a porn fair?"

Because activities that persons choose are entitled to more protection than mere commercial interest?
Because many people stand up for religious rights and only few stand up for the consume of porn?
Because the Churches are firmly integrated in the exercise of power?

Take your pick.

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:53:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because activities that persons choose are entitled to more protection than mere commercial interest?

The Catholic and Orthodox churches, and many Protestant sects, are mere commercial interests, as far as any outside observer can discern. Well, that and a side order of misogyny and child rape. Why should commercial interests that brandish a cross enjoy greater protections than any other commercial interests?

Because many people stand up for religious rights and only few stand up for the consume of porn?

Many people stand up for the right of racists to spread their venom. Few people stand up for the right of communists to not be monitored by the political police.

Because the Churches are firmly integrated in the exercise of power?

Well, that's what I'm protesting.

In a democracy, the churches cannot be any closer to the halls of power than any other social gathering or commercial enterprise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 08:14:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Catholic and Orthodox churches, and many Protestant sects, are mere commercial interests

I'm trying hard to take you seriously. Please don't make it harder than necessary.

Christian organisations (what about other religious communities, I wonder?) are mere commercial interests? You don't find it a tad arrogant to tell people they aren't in a Church for spiritual reasons, as a community of shared values, or simply because they want rites to accompany their lives, but just members of mere commercial interests, perhaps?

Btw., I find it interesting that Catholics and the Orthodox are Churches, while Protestants have sects. Care to explain where the difference comes from?

Many people stand up for the right of racists to spread their venom. Few people stand up for the right of communists to not be monitored by the political police

What are we to conclude from your words? That you believe everything that has a large support is wrong and therefore setting religious rights over the rights of the porn industry is wrong too?

In a democracy, the churches cannot be any closer to the halls of power than any other social gathering or commercial enterprise

Now it's becoming interesting. Church members and people who value the Churches form a very large proportion of the population. Why do you think you can teach them what democracy is? I think we have dismissed the commercial enterprise bullshit, so let's call it social gathering, if you must. Suddenly you discover that there are other "social gatherings", and that they are playing a role in political powerplay. Allottment gardeners, for instance. They are well organised and usually have no problem to get their point across. Astonishing how much influence they have. Does that make you as excited as influence of Churches? I think not. So what is it?

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 09:03:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Christian organisations (what about other religious communities, I wonder?) are mere commercial interests?

Can you tell me honestly that you look at a televangelist and not see a crass commercial venture?

You don't find it a tad arrogant to tell people they aren't in a Church for spiritual reasons, as a community of shared values, or simply because they want rites to accompany their lives, but just members of mere commercial interests, perhaps?

I'm not saying they're not members of the church for all those reasons. I'm saying that the church they are members of is run like a transnational corporation.

If they don't like that being pointed out to them, then maybe they should find a church that, you know, isn't run like McDonald's or McDonnell-Douglass.

Such churches do exist, you know.

But they don't have a turnover comparable to the GDP of a moderately sized Central Asian republic.

Btw., I find it interesting that Catholics and the Orthodox are Churches, while Protestants have sects. Care to explain where the difference comes from?

The Catholic and Orthodox churches are also sects - but some Protestant sects don't have churches, in the sense of a well-defined organization.

Many people stand up for the right of racists to spread their venom. Few people stand up for the right of communists to not be monitored by the political police

What are we to conclude from your words? That you believe everything that has a large support is wrong

That appeal to popularity is a bullshit argument.

Church members and people who value the Churches form a very large proportion of the population. Why do you think you can teach them what democracy is?

Because apparently a lot of them think that their particular parochial prejudices deserve some special protection from criticism and insults which is not extended to anybody else's parochial prejudices.

I find this inconsistent with democracy.

Suddenly you discover that there are other "social gatherings", and that they are playing a role in political powerplay. Allottment gardeners, for instance. They are well organised and usually have no problem to get their point across. Astonishing how much influence they have. Does that make you as excited as influence of Churches? I think not. So what is it?

I don't see them claiming any super-special prerogatives that are not available to other organizations or social groups.

In particular, I don't see them getting their undies in a twist about people "offending their allotment gardener feelings" or "insulting the pumpkin cultivation instruction manual."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 10:10:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you tell me honestly that you look at a televangelist and not see a crass commercial venture?

I needn't treat them as representative for all churches though. Especially not here, where they are completely unknown.

So you claim that religious organisations have significantly more influence per member than other organisations? I doubt that. Perhaps you underrate how many people identify with churches. I note that there are some privileges of churches that are becoming controversial and that will have to go--in Germany it's the funding by the state that's highest on the list. I don't see that there is support for scrapping legislation against defamatory acts, though.  

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 11:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you claim that religious organisations have significantly more influence per member than other organisations? I doubt that.

Yes.

Trade unions do not have laws against mocking their feelings.

Perhaps you underrate how many people identify with churches.

No. I just oppose laws that privilege churches over other social gatherings on no other basis than that they are popular.

I do, however, note that churches often lie about how many members they have.

I note that there are some privileges of churches that are becoming controversial and that will have to go--in Germany it's the funding by the state that's highest on the list. I don't see that there is support for scrapping legislation against defamatory acts, though.

I'm not asking for a revocation of libel laws.

All I'm asking for is equal treatment. If it is legal to say that comparing Bill Gates to a pestilential, cock-sucking gutter rat is an insult to gutter rats, then it should also be legal to say that comparing the Pope to a pestilential, etc.

Religious people need to grow the fuck up and realize that every other organization with a comparable turnover and public profile to the Russian Orthodox Church has to deal with punkers like Pussy Riot protesting their activities.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 12:08:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is legal to say that comparing Bill Gates to a pestilential, cock-sucking gutter rat is an insult to gutter rats, then it should also be legal to say that comparing the Pope to a pestilential, etc

Well, and I know of no law that treats the two different, so what exactly do you want to prove?

by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 02:07:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a few posts ago, you supported the existence of different, looser, definitions of defamatory speech when the subject of the speech is a religious group or creed than when it is any other group or creed.

But, OK. You don't see a problem with comparing the Pope to a diseased rodent. Then what's your gripe with making mimed punk-rock in a church that's open to the general public and was not being used for any church-related purposes at the time?

(Denmark has such a law, by the way, although nobody has actually been convicted since the Interbellum.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You happily jump between offending the Pope (a person), political speech on religion or behaviour of clerics, and defamation of religion/religious groups.

Can you make clear what you are talking about?

by Katrin on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 04:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Offending the Pope is political speech, because the Pope has decided that he wants to be a political figure.

Calling out the behavior of clerics is political speech insofar as that behavior is sanctioned by the Church, because the Church has decided that it wants to be a political actor.

Defamation of anybody is a crime. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about whether there should be a lower standard for what constitutes defamation of religious groups than of non-religious groups. And about whether religious groups should get to decide whether the insult constitutes defamation. Because that's the prerogative you want to arrogate for religious communities. It's a prerogative no other group has - not even under the absurdly frivolous British libel law - and which is deeply corrosive to democracy (again, the best example of how frivolous libel law hurts society is the UK).

Religious people sometimes, erroneously, believe that either of the first two is defamation of themselves and their faith. This is obviously horseshit. But the frequent assertion makes it extremely relevant to a discussion of whether religious people should be allowed to set their own standards for defamation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 1st, 2012 at 05:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that your argument shifts to saying that Churches exercise too much political power, while we started with the protection of religious feelings and the space they are expressed in, and the freedom to base political decisions on them.
by Katrin on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 11:11:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My argument has always been that religious groups should expect no special treatment.

That means, among other things: Their prayer-spaces are not protected in any way that a concert hall or strip mall is not. Their religious texts are not protected in any way that any other piece of literature is not. Their prejudices have no political weight that is not equally granted any other random prejudice. Their organizations should have no privileged access to politicians, or to schoolchildren, or to hospital patients, or any other vulnerable group. And "you hurt my religious feelings" is no more a valid argument than "you offend my taste in music."

As long as religious groups obey those strictures, I have absolutely no problem with their activities, political or otherwise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 11:56:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The CoE is still one of the largest property owners in the UK.

The Vatican is an entire country and no one knows exactly how much it is worth. But when you count up the buildings, art treasures, land, and 'investments' it's not a small number.

Oddly, very little of that wealth is spent on the poor.

Even more bizarrely, the poor are encouraged to donate generously every Sunday.

How much is the Mormon church worth? How much are the various Islamic and Jewish religious organisations around the world worth?

How much does the IRS not claim each year in the US because religious and spiritual organisations are tax exempt?

Clearly we're not in a world where people of like mind gather in each others' houses for a communal shared experience and mammon is of only passing interest.

God regularly gives preachers in the US their own private jets, almost as if they were executives of their own corporations.

God seems remarkably generous like that - especially to mainstream religious leaders.

All of this is possible because of special pleading by religionists, and less special organisations find it hard to match the economic history of established churches.

Now - clearly the roots of religious privilege (let's call it what it is) have nothing to do with actual spirituality, which is a nebulously meaningless concept at worst and an entirely personal and subjective one at best.

Religions are privileged because they tell stories about tribal morals and identity. They dress up the stories with some theatre, which impresses the easily impressed. But at root it's political theatre designed to modify values and behaviour to whatever ends the church in question happens to have. (And as someone else pointed out, most have authoritarian values rather than progressive ones.)

Secularists don't have the same privileges because they don't do the theatre, they (mostly) don't claim to have the weight of centuries of tradition on their side, and they're not in the business of defining morals - although corporates and pols certainly go out of their way to try to influence beliefs and behaviour, which is not entirely different.

(Although usually they're a bit clumsy at it.)

That's really the only difference. Otherwise churches have an interesting history as economic entities which make a nice profit by soliciting and/or demanding donations from the faithful.

Of course your personal beliefs are different etc, etc, but I covered that earlier.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 10:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:

Religions are privileged because they tell stories about tribal morals and identity. They dress up the stories with some theatre, which impresses the easily impressed. But at root it's political theatre designed to modify values and behaviour to whatever ends the church in question happens to have. (And as someone else pointed out, most have authoritarian values rather than progressive ones.)

the reaction to OWS camping at st paul's was so... christian, not!

'official' religions are bought and sold out reps for capitalism inc., a new global umbrella 'religion' that displaces all others in its grisly wake.

the best favour man could do to god would be to send them all down the river and start again.

...this time without the hate and fear as tools to divide and subjugate people.

no beef with the gullible adherents, but i'm sure they'll find some other form of solace/entertainment that doesn't have so much infidel blood on its hands.

universe wants us to wake the f up, and that includes freeing ourselves from the chains of false beliefs like 'my god kicks your god's ass', 'our avatar is the only avatar', and 'who would jesus bomb?'

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Sep 2nd, 2012 at 04:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A pig in a synagogue doesn't fly.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading some articles, it seems the guys in the first case fit that bill: they also disrupted a TV show and punched a security guard in the process.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:45:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reading the article, the key point for the judge seems to have been the uploading of the photos in a forum with 5 million users, which she judged not to be private use.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 31st, 2012 at 06:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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