“WE ARE awful eejits really..”

The Irish Times has carried a number of articles, including one by John Waters, in response to the decision by Irish Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, to seek to introduce an operable law against blasphemous libel – including the Minister’s defence of that decision. [This same John Waters? – Ed] Indeed. The ministerial defence, though, doesn’t appear to consider whether introducing such an operable law against the “defamation of religion [which] is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights” undermines the very constitution he claims to seek to defend. In today’s paper Fintan O’Toole added a light satirical touch to proceedings, along with an historical reference.

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.

And Speaking of satirical touches.. Here’s Newton!

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  • bollix

    its a wonderful article by fintan o toole and i thoroughly recommend it to all.

    organised religions have not only said some pretty horrendous things, they have done them. so i think it is fair enough that they be fully challenged, even if it tends towards abuse.

    organised religions have also suffered some pretty horrendous things and survived. verbal abuse should be a small concern by comparison.

    that said, abuse for abuse’s sake is pretty lame. i don’t want to listen to stupid people say stupid things about religion, but that is no reason to make it illegal.

  • sj1

    Good debate on prime time last night about this.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    So the US finally got rid of a President that had overtly biased christians views and who endorsed the opinions of the religious christian fundamentalists. But such views are no longer as popular anymore with Obama in power.

    However, we here in Ireland, who up to our eyes with the credit crunch and rising numbers of unemployed, and who have one of the most unpopular governments that draws up such a futile and obsolete law.

    Definitely a load of old bollix!

  • Oiliféar

    Why the sudden itch for a blasphemy law?

    I’m suspicious.

    Fianna Fáil support at an all time low. Local elections coming up. Dear old biddies see Fianna Fáil as doing good by religion. Dear old biddies go soft on Fianna Fáil a election time?

    Am I paranoid?

  • A generic blasphemy law would tend to ban all non-universalistic religions. It has left [url=http://www.forthefainthearted.com/2009/05/01/will-the-gardai-seize-our-prayer-books/]The Rev Ian Poulton[/url] wondering if the Gardaí will confiscate his Book of Common Prayer. Catholics should have similar concerns.

    This is a liturgical prayer for the Good Friday MOTP from my 1962 Missal:

    LET US PRAY also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would rescue them from all their errors (…)Almighty and everlasting God, who savest all and wouldst that none should perish: turn Thy gaze to souls deceived and led astray by the devil; may they cast off the evil of their heresy and in true repentance of their errors return to the unity of Thy truth. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, Forever and ever. Amen”

    I think a court would be hard pressed not to find that prayer “grossly abusive or insulting” in “matters held sacred” by a Protestant. The proposed law even gives the authorities the right to intrude into churches to confiscate the ‘blasphemous’ material:

    Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court may issue a warrant authorising the Garda Síochána to enter, if necessary using reasonable force, a premises where the member of the force has reasonable grounds for believing there are copies of the blasphemous statements in order to seize them.

    Failure to pay the whopping €100,000 fine would inevitably result in a fairly stiff prison sentence. This is a new Inquisition.

    Also interesting (and somewhat revealing) that the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, the UK and Ireland’s leading Islamic ‘civil liberties’ group, have [url=http://www.mpac.ie/content/view/249/1/]called[/url] this blasphemy law “an excellent idea”.

  • Here’s another take on this story.