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 In today’s paper Fintan O’Toole added a light satirical touch to proceedings, along with an historical reference.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!